Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Beckett Is Found to Be Profiting from Three Homes Cash Loophole

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Beckett Is Found to Be Profiting from Three Homes Cash Loophole

Article excerpt

Byline: NICHOLAS CECIL Chief Political Correspondent

EXPENSES ROW HOUSING MINISTER RENTED OUT PROPERTY WHILE IN GRACE-AND-FAVOUR FLAT AND

CLAIMED FOR CONSTITUENCY BASE

HOUSING minister Margaret Beckett today became the latest Cabinet minister to be engulfed in the "three homes" row.

Chancellor Alistair Darling, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon and Mrs Beckett, who also attends Cabinet, were accused of renting out London f lats while living in grace-and-favour homes and claiming expenses for another home.

All three deny breaching any Commons rules and there is no evidence that they have done so, but they faced calls to repay thousands of pounds they have pocketed for second homes.

Mrs Beckett was given a grace-andfavour home in 18th-century Admiralty House in late 1997 -- the first president of the Board of Trade to benefit from such a perk for 20 years.

She is understood to have lived there for just over eight years, after the home had been given a [pounds sterling]65,000 refurbishment.

She then moved into Carlton Gardens for a year following her appointment as Foreign Secretary in 2006.

Derby South MP Mrs Beckett has claimed [pounds sterling]106,000 in expenses for a second home in the six years from 2001/02 to 2006/07. She has also declared in the Commons Register of Members' Interests a flat in London as "residential rented property". Tenants are said to have included Labour MP Gillian Merron and a Home Office civil servant.

Mrs Beckett, who no longer has a graceand-favour home, said she did not make money from renting out the Westminster flat, and was simply "covering costs".

Her spokesman said: "Nothing has ever been done outside the rules of Parliament." She stopped renting out the London flat in February last year after losing her Cabinet post the previous year.

Mr Darling is letting a flat in London while living in Downing Street and claiming the second home allowance for his house in Edinburgh. …

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