Expenses for MPs’ second homes leave bitter taste

A Guildhall vigil for victims of the Manchester bombing. Picture: Keith Woodland

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As temperatures begin to drop and we finally start to get a real autumnal nip in the air, thoughts and fingers are starting to turn to thermostats.

Considering most of us did not turn off our central heating until May, the mild start to the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness has come as welcome relief – for our wallets if nothing else.

For we all know that once the heating goes on the meters start spinning crazily and our beloved energy companies’ eyes begin to boggle at the thought of all that lovely profit.

It’s hard enough managing the household budget to pay one of these utility bills.

So imagine if you had two properties to heat and power. You might think it would be tricky. Others, quite reasonably, might think that if you had enough money to run two homes you would have enough cash to pay two sets of bills.

And then there are our MPs.

As our story on page 11 today reveals, four of them, all Tories, have claimed back the cost of their heating and light from their second homes in London.

Havant’s David Willetts tops the Portsmouth area MPs’ table with a £2,596 expenses claim for gas and electricity.

Others are Portsmouth North’s Penny Mordaunt, Gosport’s Caroline Dinenage and Fareham’s Mark Hoban. Portsmouth South Independent Mike Hancock and Meon Valley Tory George Hollingbery claimed nothing.

Let’s be clear, those who have been reimbursed these second-home expenses have done nothing wrong.

But if these MPs represented constituencies hundreds of miles from Westminster, it would be more understandable.

Mr Hoban points out that Mondays in the House of Commons run from 10am until 10.30pm.

But there are many Portsmouth area commuters who recognise those hours yet return to their one home each evening.

When the rest of us are struggling to pay these bills, and many will have no choice but to turn off their heating in the winter, this issue leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

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