I suppose if I was being naughty I could say that the fact that Jacqui Smith's husband needed to "entertain himself" by watching pornographic moves, adds weight to the argument that she spends more nights in her rented one bedroom London residence than she does at her second home in her constituency. After all, what's a boy to do...
The thing is. While entertaining Rosie Palm and her five daughters, Richard Timney hasn't, in theory, done anything wrong. The rules allow MPs not just to claim for mortgage interest on a second home, but also to furnish it and pay for "services". These include Cable TV and Sky. Perhaps individual PPV films don't qualify, but in the rules there is nothing to stop film and sport packages being claimed for, as well as news channels.
From 1 April even these rules are being replaced with some vacuous policy which takes all responsibility away from the Fees Office and puts it entirely on the shoulders of MPs. Even if the Fees Office advises them that a claim is acceptable, it is left to MPs to decide "how this would look if it appeared in a newspaper". Incredible. This can only make matters worse and give the Mail on Sunday even more fun at politicians' expense.
But if you think this episode is embarrassing, just wait until July, when the expenses of all MPs are revealed, down to the very last detail. Sky is reporting today that Jacqui Smith claimed for an 88p bathplug. Of course she did. The rules allow her to. They also allow for lightbulbs to be claimed for, doormats, knives and forks, and indeed anything else which a second home requires.
I take the view that MPs from outside London should indeed be allowed to claim for a second home. But they should only be allowed to claim for mortgage interest, rates and utility bills, and possibly a one off initial relocation cost of, say £5k. The rest of the furnishing and upkeep of that home is down to them. If you want a TV, you pay for it. If you want to have cable TV you pay for it. If you want a bathplug, or any other kind of plug, you pay for it.
UPDATE: Headline hattip to Davidodavido