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First Secretary, second home?

Betsan Powys | 14:10 UK time, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Listening to the radio first thing this morning I learned that we've just entered the official hurricane season, the Atlantic hurricane season at least. I wasn't wide awake but gathered that each season brings with it half a dozen or so 'named hurricanes' - you know, those rather inappropriate names that sound more like women from chapel than destructive forces of nature.

Let me add to the list.

This morning Hurricane Jacqui has been followed by Hurricane Hazel and the Prime Minister must be wondering whch named hurricane hits next. One Welsh MP suggested, only partly in jest this morning, that I should be heading off the bookie to put a fiver on an election next month.

The list of MPs forced to defend their expense claims continues to grow too. BBC Wales will soon be publishing an online list of what's been claimed by and about Welsh MPs along with their responses to those claims.

Alun Michael has been on the hit-list most recently for designating his family home in Penarth as his second home.

In a statement to the BBC this is what Mr Michael has said:

"My main home has always been in Penarth but - in common with all Ministers - the system defined Ministers as being London-based and required Ministers to claim on the constituency home as the "second home" irrespective of any personal arrangements. That kicked in immediately when I became a Minister in 1997. Being able to change definitions is a quite recent development following a rule change, and I have now used that choice - now that I am out of Government and a back-bencher - to designate Penarth as my main home and to reflect the reality of my situation. That choice wasn't there in the past. During my time at the Assembly I was still an MP but I was intending to stand down at the general election and the question of designation never arose".

Nobody has Alun Michael down as keen to grasp more than his fair share of expenses. From what I know of him, that is not the man's style.

But it does seem as though his first home was in London even when he was First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales. He led the government and led the country but his first home wasn't in that country.

Strike you as odd?


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