Just a few little factoids I picked up today in conversation with MPs about, what else, expenses. One MP told how when it came to setting up a second home in London she called the Fees Office to ask what they considered to be a reasonable amount to spend on a TV. They wouldn't tell her. All they would say was that it was whatever you would normally spend on such an item. So, she said, if I spend about £300-400 which is what my TV at my family home cost, would that be OK? After some consultation they came back: yes. OK then, she said, how about if at my family home I had a £3000 plasma TV? Would it be OK to claim £3000 in London? After some consultation, another yes. So - if you've already got one big TV you're allowed another one, but if you've only got a small one, you're not. Which means you end up with the scenario where one MP is claiming for a chandelier while most of us are shopping in Ikea. (Haven't read tomorrow's stories about the Tory grandees yet, but I hope you will excuse me for quite looking forward to it. Actually have just found it on the Telegraph website. £14,000 for a housekeeper? How on earth was that ever allowed through? And clearing the moat around his manor house? And work to his stables and for his piano to be tuned? That's the aptly named Douglas Hogg.)
Another MP told me this tale. Apparently you're not allowed to claim for items for children under the second home allowance. So although he quite understandably wanted his family to be able to spend time in both places with him, he couldn't claim for a child's bed. However.... he was told it would be perfectly in order for him to buy another double bed, on the grounds that he could in theory choose to sleep in either one. So - a little bed not allowed, a big one is fine. Mad, isn't it?