There's one aspect to this that doesn't seemed to have attracted much attention. There's been plenty of hooha about whether she should pay back £50k or £5k. And rightly so.
What hasn't been so widely discussed is the fact that her MP's (Basingstoke) expenses paid the mortgage for a 5 bedroomed property in Wimbledon which has accrued £1.2m in equity since "she" bought it.
This bothering me for the following reasons:
1. Wimbledon isn't especially handy for Westminster and is, apparently, only 15 minutes by public transport closer to Westminster. Why did she need a property at all if the time saved was so minimal?
2. Why did she require a 5 bedroomed house?
3. Why does she get to keep the equity in the house when the taxpayer has paid for it?
I'm not especially singling her out here. I'm sure many MPs claim for properties in London it's just that I can't name them and Miller has been widely covered lately.
So what is to be done about this?
Rules are horribly difficult to draw up because an MP representing a far flung constituency can hardly be expected to commute whereas the MP for Westminster certainly could.
So here's what I propose:
Every current MP should be given a notional budget to acquire a property to their satisfaction. This would mean that Parliament has to buy 600-odd houses/flats. These would then operate as tied cottages in perpetuity. Once the MP resigns or is de-selected he loses the residence along with the job and the new MP takes over.
The MPs whose constituencies are so close to Parliament that they do not require anywhere should not take up residence and return the property to Parliament. At any given time this means that there may be, say, 50 properties empty and available to act as a pool (think pool car usage for a company). A new MP, as a result of a by-election, would then have the choice of the empty properties from the pool.
At a general election, I'm guessing here, 250 MPs must be voted out and replaced. The new MPs should then tick boxes (I have 3 kids and so need 4 bedrooms and an office etc) and then be allocated from the "tied cottage" from the pool that best suits.
If an MP ends up with a property they can make a case for being inadequate they should then be able to sell it and use the proceeds for a property they are happy with.
But at all times ownership of all of the properties should remain with Parliament.
OK it's complicated. I'm sure MPs will hate it. But why anybody should be allowed to keep £1.2m from increased value of a property they did not pay for is clearly absurd - even if it is completely within the rules.