Entirely within the spirit

YOUR editorial last week suggested that some might react to the laudable disclosure by John Penrose of his expenses claims as Weston s MP, by questioning his explanation for moving his second home nearer to Westminster. This would be most unfair. As someo

YOUR editorial last week suggested that some might react to the laudable disclosure by John Penrose of his expenses claims as Weston's MP, by questioning his explanation for moving his second home nearer to Westminster. This would be most unfair. As someone who used to live in London I can entirely subscribe to Mr Penrose's assessment that living in Pimlico would make much more sense for an aspiring politician than living by King's Cross. Pimlico is a short walk from Westminster, a journey from Westminster to King's Cross might take 15 minutes by London Underground's rosy reckoning but would take significantly longer than that late at night.

The idea that our politicians' lives must stand still (and that they should not move house) after they get elected may have some short-term resonance in the current recession, but does not withstand serious consideration. Mr Penrose, as Shadow Business Minister, has already shown that he has better prospects of giving Weston a serious voice than either of his predecessors. He has been busy in the constituency since he was elected, but his house move shows he has thrown himself into the life of the Westminster Village too. He already seems to have made more impact that Brian Cotter ever did, and I suspect at no greater cost to the taxpayer.

It is entirely understandable that many will be questioning the whole system of MPs' expenses. Nevertheless, on the basis of both the existing system and that proposed by the main party leaders, Mr Penrose's claims are entirely within the spirit as well as the letter of the rules. Indeed, they stand up to scrutiny rather better than those of Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg. I doubt there are many people in the constituency who have been helped by Mr Penrose who would doubt his honesty, good faith or determination to do the best by the people of Weston.

J ORMOND


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