George Osborne faces inquiry

George Osborne, the Conservative MP for Tatton who is currently caught up in a row resulting from his claim that the Government refused him permission to see information related to spending, is facing an inquiry into irregularities amongst his expenses submissions. Previous accusations made by the Daily Telegraph, which claimed that Mr. Osborne had deliberately avoided paying Capital Gains Tax, will not be investigated.

George Osborne says that he is "relaxed" about the investigation.
Image adapted from one by M. Holland at Wikipedia, used in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.

The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner will look into claims made by the chairman of Mr. Osborne's constituency Labour party chairman, Laurie Burton, that the MP wrongly designated a property that - going by Commons rules - should have been desiganted his main residence as his official second home. Those actions, already discussed on this blog, allowed Mr. Osborne to personally benefit to the tune of £748,000.

Mr. Burton also alleges that Mr. Osborne claimed to cover the cost of mortgage expenses which were, he says, "not necessarily incurred" - virtually a direct accusation of deceit. The MP became a figure of fun shortly after the Commons published details of expenses claims, which revealed that he had claimed £47 to pay for two CDs of a speech given by himself on the topic of "value for money."

That Mr. Osborne "flipped" the designation of his home for the purpose of personal financial gain seems unarguable. That may not have been strictly against the rules - though the second home allowance is intended to cover the cost of a home closer to Parliament than the MP's constituency home, there has in the past been no regulation stating that the second property need be anywhere near Westminster, only that the MP should spend less time there than at the main home - it seems obvious that he did abuse the system to satisfy his own greed, as have many others. Had any of the £749,000 been paid into the public purse, things would be very different; but thus far Mr. Osborne has paid back just £1195.49, including what the Conservatives' website calls "the cost of a particularly expensive car journey" - a £440 trip in a taxi, late one night. As a result, we can only hope that Mr. Osborne will find himself subject to the strictest punishment the Commissioner can use should he be found guilty.

In the meantime, David Cameron is so keen on being seen to be doing more in response to the expenses scandal than Gordon Brown, it would come as no surprise whatsoever were Mr. Osborne to be forced out of the Shadow Chancellor's office - even if only temporarily and until proven innocent - by the beginning of next week. We'll just have to wait and see.

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