Toilet paper. A garlic peeler. Work on a bell tower. A ‘duck island’. In 2009 The Daily Telegraph’s revelation that all these items had featured in recent MP expenses claims caused widespread outrage. It was not just the size of the claims (some substantial) that made headlines but often their frivolity. Claims for duck islands and moat cleaning illustrated the gulf between the lifestyles of some MPs and their constituents, while others for more mundane items like dog food and toilet seats simply appeared petty. A more serious criticism was of the apparently widespread practice of MPs ‘flipping’ their main residence and second home to maximise their expenses and minimise their tax bills. The House of Commons’ Speaker Michael Martin was effectively forced out after his perceived mishandling of the crisis.
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