MPs rules mean newsreader presents show naked?
MPs eh? It’s not enough that they get a fat wedge £65,738, rising to £134,565 for cabinet ministers, but they also get an expense allowance of £20 grand, providing, of course they claim for legitimate expenses (not duck castles, or porn) as well as the whole summer off and that bulging public sector pension to look forward to.
But it’s not that I’m bitter (well, not much) it’s just that MPs seem to have one rule and every other British subject (with the possible exception of the Royal Family) have another.
You see, MPs claim expenses for a variety of things that ordinary mortals cannot. If you tried to claim your lunch as an expense, the tax man would laugh at you while sticking a big fat tax bill on your plate. But David Cameron has…
You see, the thing with lunch is that it cannot be said to be wholly and exclusively for business purposes. If you work full time, you are always out of the house at lunchtime, and have to feed yourself every day. You can therefore bring food from home and there is no ‘additional’ cost caused by your employment. If you choose to go out to lunch- even if it is with a client- that is your choice, and it’s your dollar. Your employer may choose to refund you, but that is up to them- YOU cannot claim it back as an expense of your employment.
For most employees, an expense will also be incurred only where every employee would have to incur that cost- that’s why childcare is not allowable, as not every employee needs childcare. However, for MPs, the requirement is one that “each and every MP or Minister would have to meet”. This is helpfully not defined anywhere, and even in the secretive MPs, Ministers and Tax booklet available only upon request in writing (which the BBC have helpfully scanned here), there are details of all the other allowances they can claim but no specific guidance as to whether these ‘parliamentary expenses’ are considered allowable for tax. I am sure all MPs would naturally consider their (hefty) mortgage interest charges to be allowable. If only we were allowed to do the same…
But perhaps the most fun could be had if we could instead claim for business clothing- or not as the case may be. Last year, newsreader Sian Williams (presenter of BBC Breakfast) took the taxman to court claiming that she should be allowed to deduct several thousands of pounds in hair, clothing and make up costs, being as she was on the telly. Previous cases had failed on the grounds that clothes were not exclusively used for a job, as they also provided warmth and decency. Ms Williams argued that the studio was warm and she was quite prepared to present Breakfast naked.
We think they should have held her to it. They didn’t and she lost her case. Perhaps another TV presenter should take up the gauntlet and offer to remain naked all the time in support of a claim? Cheryl Cole perhaps?