I've got a little supplementary to the Tam Dalyell bookcases story. Remember, he put in a claim for £18,000 for new bookcases only two months before he retired from Parliament in 2005. In the event the Fees Office only paid him £7,000. Poor chap. Must have been on his uppers after that.
So hard up was Mr Dalyell that he decided to spend a few more taxpayer pounds - admittedly only about £30 that I can prove, but as we have seen, every penny counts, doesn't it? How did he do this?
Well, if you have bookcases which cost that amount you need some nice books to fill them. Clearly, just as ordinary book cases weren't enough for Mr Dalyell, nor were ordinary books. So he set about sending them out to authors to get them signed. Nothing wrong with that - except he used House of Commons postage to do it. And not only that, he enclosed a House of Commons franked SAE for the authors to send them back to him in.
I know the names of two well known authors who received books in this manner from Mr Dalyell and there were at least two others. But if there were four, there were probably more.
OK, it's not exactly on the scale of Duck Island or Elliott Morley's mortgage, but when the Telegraph can devote half a page to Jo Swinson supposedly claiming for a 29p eyeliner when it only devoted about 6 column inches to two Labour Peers being chucked out of the House of Lords, I don't think I will be taking any lectures about proportionality!