Chris Grayling – should I have defended him?

Voicers may recall that back in February I raised a sardonic eyebrow at the outrage surrounding Chris Grayling’s immolation at the hands of the Mirror.

The issue at stake was his second home allowance, when his constituency (my home town of Epsom and Ewell) is only 17 miles from Westminster. Not so fast, said I!:

“Only” 17 miles, eh? Ever tried negotiating it on the train? Oh, but of course not. You all live in Islington, don’t you.

One of my favourite pet facts to come out of the Policy Exchange report Cities Unlimited was that commuting times in London’s hinterland are the same as they were in 1945, and slightly slower than they were in 1971 (p 33).

I pointed out that in terms of time, his commute was actually comparable to that of other MPs who lived 50 or 60 miles away from London on faster rail links. So he was as much entitled to a second home allowance as they were (i.e. if at all).

But Mr Grayling is getting harder to defend. The logic of a second home allowance is surely that you don’t have to spend so much time on the hoof. If you’re frequently trapped in your office till late signing letters (like many I greatly enjoy Norman Lamb’s midnight tweets), the point of having a second home is that you don’t have to peg it down to Waterloo in order to catch the last train and be in your bed by two, if you’re lucky. You can just totter off to your town flat.

So higher second home expenses, lower travel expenses, right?

Wrong. According to this neat little gadget (discovered by Dr Pack) Grayling is one of only two MPs in the whole of the south-east who claimed more than £10,000 in travel expenses in 2007/08. His little pob is, indeed, an island of green (£10,000-£15,000) in a sea of blue (£5,000-£9,999) and purple (<£5,000). The taxpayer is paying for both a second home and over-the-odds travel expenses.

Well, I did my best by him, damn it. Some people just won’t help themselves.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Evan’s seems a bit high – also green, compared to those around him.

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