Loophole lets MPs beat crackdown on expenses

A LOOPHOLE in new parliamentary expenses rules has left some MPs thousands of pounds better off than they were before the crackdown which followed last year's scandals, it was claimed yesterday.

Under the rules being phased in over two years after the general election, MPs will be barred from claiming back mortgage interest payments on their second homes but will instead be able to receive expenses to pay for rented accommodation.

It was reported yesterday that some MPs have increased their income by letting out their formerly taxpayer-subsidised second home, while moving into a rented flat on which they can claim expenses.

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Any MP taking this course of action will also avoid a clawback mechanism which would require them to pay back large sums if their second homes gain in value during the transition period ending in 2012.

There is no suggestion that the practice breaches the rules introduced by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

However, former Independent MP Martin Bell said: "It is clearly out of order. They mustn't do it, and I am surprised that they are doing it.

"The public will demand that the rules be changed so they are subject to the same constraints as the rest of us."