Mr Andrew Mackay and Ms Julie Kirkbride - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents

2.  Extract from article in the Guardian, 14 May 2009

MPs' expenses: Why Andrew Mackay had to resign


[Mr] Mackay had designated his London home as his second residence, allowing him to claim more than £1,000 a month in mortgage interest payments for the property from the annual £24,006 Additional Costs Allowance (ACA). That was in line with many other MPs.

His mistake was to designate as his main home a flat he shares with Kirkbride in a large listed building in her Bromsgrove constituency. Mackay says there is nothing wrong with this because he was brought up in the Midlands and has strong connections with the area. He designated no property in his Berkshire constituency. Kirkbride designates the Bromsgrove flat as her second property, on the basis that their London flat is her main home. This allows her to claim more than £900 a month for the mortgage interest on her constituency flat.


... the leadership pointed out to Tories that MacKay's resignation marked a significant moment in setting out the parameters for the committee which will examine the expenses of all Tory MPs with questionable claims. This is because Mackay's arrangements were entirely within the rules, and had been approved by the most senior officials in the Commons Fees Office. Mackay and Kirkbride's arrangements date back around nine years following their wedding in 1997. They went to the Fees Office and asked what they should do about designation of their homes. The most senior official in the office approved the arrangement.

"This was all transparent, it was all approved and frankly until it was drawn to my attention it did not occur to me it didn't pass the 'reasonableness' test," Mackay said. "Looking back now, it does look strange, I have clearly made an error of judgment for which I profusely apologise and I've done what I think is the right thing."


14 May 2009

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