Local MP paid £35,000 a year for second home

Keens claim expenses for maintaining Covent Garden flat

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The recent publication of MPs expenses has revealed that local MP Ann Keen receives over £35,000 each year towards the cost of a Covent Garden flat.

Despite having a home in Brentford, along with her husband Alan Keen MP, she claims £17,669 as an 'additional cost allowance'. This is a reduction on the amount claim by the pair last year which was just below £40,000.

The additional cost allowance is paid to reimburse Members for necessary costs incurred when staying overnight away from their main home for the purpose of performing parliamentary duties.

The practise is widespread among MPs classed as outer London with 32 of 49 such MPs making a similar claim for expenses. Both of the Keens claim over £100,000 expenses a year, most of which relates to staffing costs for their constituency offices.

Alexander Northcote, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Brentford & Isleworth commented , “While these expenses are within the letter of the Parliamentary rules, you have to question whether the claim meets the spirit of those rules. Ann Keen has an appalling speaking record in the House itself. According to the official Parliament web site, she has only spoken on the floor of the house twice this year. At the same time the Keens refuse to attend local meetings – including the Police Community Consultative Group."

There are concerns that the financial benefit of having a constituency classed as an outer London area which entitles MPs to a housing allowance, as opposed to a much smaller London weighting that inner London MPs get, creates a potential conflict of interest. The outer London allowance for a teacher in a Hounslow Borough School is considerably less than the inner London allowance that a teacher in Ealing Borough would get.

The MPs' home in Brentford is a 40 minute journey away from Westminster on public transport. Ann Keen made no claim for transport expenses during the year although her husband was paid £2,767.

October 26, 2004