I think that this then allows anyone who is claiming some sort of welfare benefit to claim for their dependant parents – even though they may be claiming their own pensions. It’s highly unlikely that they don’t have a pension of some sort, if not a State Pension?
So we now have to pay for their parents. It’s true – its worse than it was before the expenses scandal and they promised to reform, ha, ha!
MPs' expenses: Maria Miller likely to avoid punishment over expense claims
Expenses watchdog finds Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, was entitled to make claims on behalf of her elderly parents
By Steven Swinford, Senior Political Correspondent
10:00PM GMT 17 Feb 2014
Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, is likely to avoid punishment over her expenses after the parliamentary watchdog found she was entitled to make claims on behalf of her elderly parents.
In 2012 an investigation by The Daily Telegraph found that Mrs Miller claimed more than £90,000 over four years for a second home where her parents lived in South London.
After a year-long investigation Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, has advised MPs that while Mrs Miller should not have claimed against the property for part of that period, she did not make a "financial gain" from her claims.
She has also found that Mrs Miller was entitled to claim taxpayers' funds against a property where her parents lived because they were her "dependents".
The Commissioner's findings will be assessed by MPs on the Commons committee on standards, which has the power to suspend Mrs Miller or order her to repay her expenses.
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However, sources close to the committee said that in preliminary discussions earlier this month MPs suggested that she will only receive a "terribly mild reprimand" because she did not profit from her expense claims.
Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, said Mrs Miller should be required to apologise to the House of Commons.
He pointed to that she stands to make a significant profit if she sells her taxpayer-funded second home in London, which she bought for £234,000 in 1996. Houses on the same street have sold for in excess of £1million.
He said: "We expect our senior politicians to take a lead on their expenses. While she might argue this is an unfortunate misunderstanding, the general public might take it more seriously, particularly if it can be demonstrated that she could make a capital gain at the expense of the taxpayer.
"When the MPs come to look at this they should look at it in more depth and probe the commissioner on this issue of a long term capital gain. At the very least she should be required to make an apology to the House of Commons."
He added that the ability of MPs to claim on behalf of their elderly relatives is likely to be viewed with concern by the public. He said: "We have got an ageing population in which large numbers of people would like to claim public funds for housing elderly relatives."
The lack of a reprimand could secure Mrs Miller's political future, amid speculation that she could lose her post as part of a reshuffle by David Cameron in the summer. A spokesman for the Prime Minister yesterday said that Mrs Miller retains his confidence, pending the committee's findings.
In 2009, Tony McNulty, the Labour Home Office minister, was severely reprimanded for letting his parents live in his second home and subsequently resigned. Sources close to the committee said that Mr McNulty faced censure because his parents were not his "dependents".
Between 2005 and 2009 Mrs Miller said her main home was a rented property in Basingstoke, which meant the taxpayer was liable for the second home in Wimbledon where her parents lived.
The Parliamentary Commissioner says in her 100-page draft report that Mrs Miller's main home for part of that period was not Basingstoke, as she claimed.
Under the expenses rules at the time, an MPs main home was considered the property that they spent the most days of the year in.
Mrs Hudson advised that in the absence of hard evidence about where she spend most of her time, the London address was likely to have been her main home because it was bigger and had a mortgage on it.
She found, however, that Mrs Miller's expenses would have been similar if she had claimed against the homes in Basingstoke, and therefore concluded that she did not make any "financial gain".
Mrs Miller has repeatedly maintained that her claims were "entirely above board", insisting that they had been "audited twice independently".
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