The furious heat of public feeling

EITHER John Penrose, our local MP, is displeased with last week s report for its shortcomings and lack of clarity, or we the public have cause to be displeased with him. The report implies, but does not clarify, that Mr Penrose bought a fresh property i

EITHER John Penrose, our local MP, is displeased with last week's report for its shortcomings and lack of clarity, or we the public have cause to be displeased with him.

The report implies, but does not clarify, that Mr Penrose bought a fresh property in London shortly after his election around the time he disposed of his previous London home, resulting in a four minute reduction in journeying to the House of Commons.

We know that mortgage interest incurred to acquire a property needed "wholly, necessarily and exclusively" for an MP to perform his Parliamentary duties is an expense which the taxpayer must meet and that it is an expense which would not have been chargeable had he retained his former London property.

The question, therefore, is whether the house moves satisfies that same test of absolute necessity and whether he was aware at the time that a significant financial advantage would come his way as a result of the changeover - he gained the capital coming from the sale of his former home along with the use of someone else's capital, newly borrowed at public expense, to acquire the substitute property.


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Only he knows the truth of the matter and he should be invited to declare that he was unaware of the advantage he would gain when the house move took place or that he was aware of it but believed) wrongly, given the requirements of the test) that as it was in accordance with the rules it was not something he needed to justify to himself.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that large numbers of people living in Weston, being unable to afford to live closer to their work, have to commute long distances and incur the expense of doing so out of their after-tax incomes: that is at the opposite extreme of taxpayers meeting their costs of getting to work and partly explains the furious heat of public feeling.

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PHILIP BINDING

"Monk's Haven", Winscombe

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