Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett has come under fire for renting out his London home to a Commons’ colleague while claiming public money to rent elsewhere in the city.
Mr Trickett has been criticised in the national press for letting his three-bedroom property in Barnes, south-west London, to fellow MP Kevin Barron while claiming rent on a one-bedroom flat near Westminster.
While the practice of letting property to other MPs is not banned by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) – which pays and regulates MPs’ expenses – it means Mr Trickett can claim for a second property while Mr Barron can claim the cost of renting Mr Trickett’s house.
Mr Trickett told the Express: “The decision to rent out the Barnes property, at less than the market rental value, resulted from a change in the nature of my parliamentary responsibilities.
“As a result of being a shadow cabinet member I needed to be more accessible and closer to parliament.
“While it is correct to say I did not receive any direct payment it is however the case that IPSA paid my accommodation costs and the costs of my colleague, in line with the rules laid down for non-London MPs to carry out their role and function as MPs.”
MPs were banned from making mortgage claims by IPSA this year and can now only claim expenses for renting.
But Mr Trickett – along with 26 other MPs – have been accused of exploiting a loophole which allows MPs to let properties to each other while claiming rental expenses on a second property in the capital.
Mr Trickett said: “Before renting out the property, I submitted all the legal documentation to IPSA for prior approval and complied to the letter with all the relevant rules.
“I now occupy a flat close to the House of Commons and I ensured that the rental is paid directly by IPSA to the owner of the property rather than to myself.
“At all stages I have followed the rules set out by IPSA to the letter.”
Mr Trickett – who also has a family home in Ackworth – bought the property in Barnes in 2007 and lived there until 2011 but said he did not claim any expenses during that four year period despite being entitled to.
After a “change in circumstances” he said he struggled to sell the property and let it to Mr Barron for a fixed period between September 2011 and September 2012.
The property is now back on the market.