The House's Standards Commissioner, John Lyon has expressed his intention to look into the subject of Jack Boot Smith's 'second home' fiasco. I reckon she's right at it, but no doubt Lyon will decide that nothing untoward has gone on, or that something is a little queer, but it has all been down to a 'misunderstanding'. Ministers owning up by saying 'oversight' or 'mistake' when it comes to trousering large amounts of our cash, contrasts starkly with how these people never, ever make a mistake when it comes to policy. Funny, eh?
Of course this whole situation could easily be avoided, mainly by shooting anyone who decides to submit a form for their nomination for election to the office of MP, but I appreciate that some people may not find this an agreeable policy.
So perhaps a more moderate solution is the following, find a building (perhaps kicking RBS out of their London pad, we're paying the rent anyway) and fit it out with 646 little flats, standard one bedroom apartments, with a standard bed, desk, chairs, sofa, TV, radio, internet connection, decor and shower room. Actually, not 646, there's no need for the London MPs or any MP living within an hour's train journey of central London to have one. I'm thinking Travelodge or similar budget hotel, not Claridge's, not a cardboard box under the Hammersmith flyover and certainly not a free bloody house.
These will be owned by the taxpayer and will be available to the MPs for the duration of their tenure as a sitting MP, lose your seat, lose your flat. To get a second home, wherever, paid for by me purely because a group of people were silly enough to put an X next to your name, frankly is taking the piss. Especially as you still own it when everyone else has decided you aren't to be trusted and kicks you out of office.
It doesn't really matter what John Lyon finds or decides, it'll either be a whitewash or another example of how these people are regulated by a system designed to ensure that they will never be penalised or held to real account.
Jacqui Smith, MP for Redditch. Cash spunked on second home: £116,000. Constituency majority: 2,716. I know which of those stats is likeliest to be taken back from her. If only it were both.