Coffee House

Ann Keen in dire expenses trouble

24 June 2009

The married Labour MPs Ann and Alan Keen are in real trouble with the news that Hounslow council is threatening to repossess what is, according to their expenses, their main home because it has been unoccupied for so long; seven months according to one council source spoken to by the BBC. Just to compound the Keen’s problem, Ann—who is a junior health minister—has also, Paul Waugh reports, billed the taxpayer for private health care. The health care claims are relatively small, £232. But it is obviously not going to go down well in the Labour party that a junior health minister is using private medical care. 

It is very hard to see how the Keens can survive this if what they are calling their main home really has been unoccupied for seven months. Hounslow is a Tory-run council but the pictures the BBC are showing do strongly suggest that the house is unoccupied and has been for some time.

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  • TeaTea

    Sadly for Feltham and Heston, Hounslow and Brentford, the other alternate *would be* MP’s are equally as bad – they would have done the same expenses rips.

    It has been so much fun watching the mighty fall though, I was wondering when they’d get round to them.

    As far as Victor..well, you should recognise our language as still evolving, not dead, The Oxford English does.

  • Nick

    Paul Harper, TomTom and other Labour apologists, whether it is undergoing construction work or is up for sale is irrelevant. They are claiming it is their main home when they have clearly not lived there for months, so they can maximise the expenses on the place where they actually live (which is only 10 miles away). If it’s up for sale it makes things worse, because it looks like they’re trying to pass it off as a main residence to avoid capital gains tax.

  • biggestaspidistra

    @PaulHarper 1:10

    Do you mean the law is inapproriately applied? Whatever next, anti-terrorism legislation used to stop parents sending their children to the school of their choice?

  • Publius

    @Sir Graphus
    Absolutely. It is a vile law, though it serves these Labour creatures right that it is now being used against them.

  • stygian

    prosecutions must follow

  • Carlos

    How is it possible for any MP to bill the taxpayer for private health care? What a scandalous abuse of public money!

  • Sir Graphus

    This law is totally iniquitous, being fundamentally at odds with the basic right to own property.

    It is only a small consolation that it is being used against 2 people responsible for passing the law in the 1st place.

  • TomTom

    which was unoccupied for 6 or more months could be taken into council control.

    Only if it was not currently FOR SALE or undergoing CONSTRUCTION WORK

  • Nif

    It’s not a council house, but is owned by Mr & Mrs Expenses.

    LB Hounslow is threatening to take possession of it under the provisions of Housing Act 2004, which allows local authorities to take grab properties unoccupied for more than 6 months, and bring them back into occupation. With more than 3 million people on councils’ housing waiting lists, that seems like a jolly good idea, from the great leader and his team.

    As a constituent of one half of Mr & Mrs Expenses, I feel obliged to mention that not only has she proved to be an absent resident (preferring to enjoy the cosmopolitan delights of SE1 to the grittier suburb of Brentford (30 minutes away from Waterloo by the four times an hour excellent South West Trains service)) but also an absent MP, with few local surgeries, and rare local appearances mostly of the photo-op type, rather than anything which might result in her being asked pertinent questions by the local electorate. As far as I can recall, she didn’t appear in any hustings before the last general election. We won’t miss her as we’ve never seen her.

  • Ian Walker

    It’s called an Empty Dwelling Management Order.

    Housing Act 2004, Chapter 2 Part 4. Requires a very long process including an interim order and a tribunal, so unlikely to actually come to fruition. You can stop the order simply by making a “genuine effort to sell or let” the place.

    Like most bad Labour laws, it’s designed to punish the rich, but actually will punish the poor. Anyone who can afford (or who can expense!) a decent solicitor will be entirely unaffected.

    And of course, like all bad Labour legislation, it only applies to England.

  • Road_Hog

    This is NOT a council house. This is their original home. They bought another house in central London which they call their SECOND home, i.e. NOT their main residence. This has allowed them to claim £138K for the upkeep.
    So, supposedly, their original house is their main home, but it is boarded up.
    As to the repossession, this is legislation tha LABOUR brought in that allows them to take your privately owned house and rent it out to council tenants. It was mainly aimed at rich (read Tories) people who left properties empty. However Hounslow council have turned the tables on Labour and are using on the Keen’s empty property.

    BTW, as Ann Keen as a junior minister, their combined salary is £160,000.

  • Rainer Unsinn

    I think that this is just a case of the Tory council sticking it to Labour MPs and enjoying every second of it. The fact that the legislation that they are using is Labour’s own makes it all the more tasty.

  • Another Englishman Abroad

    As the Coffee House National Debt Counter has just reached the grand sum of 26000 GBP per family share…

    Ann Keen MP ?
    In dire trouble ?
    Really ?

  • john miller

    How very Animal Farm.

    After running the NHS for 12 years, spending an additional £50 billion a year on it, it’s so bad that a government minister can’t bear to use it.

    Right up there with the ridiculous Diane Abbott, the rabid communist who sends her son to private school after years of pouring venom on Tories who did the same thing.

    Socialism, dontcha just lurve it?

    It might be an idea if Gordon, instead of trying to make MPs pack in their outside interests, made MPs honour their commitments.

    So Milliband would ride a bike and get a bus, Ann Keen would have to use the NHS and Abbott would have to send her son to the local comprehensive.

  • Paul Harper

    I was under the impression that the Spectator was a journal of record. Almost everything here is wrong and is taken from the Standard who in turn have taken it from a poorly-researched local newspaper article.

    Take a look at the Housing Act 2004. The Act gives local authorities the ability, if they choose, to enter into a dialogue with the owners of homes that have been empty for six months to discuss how the property could be bought back into use. This can include the use of the property as temporary accomodation, with rents etc payable to the owners.

    It’s not designed for cases such as this, caused by incomplete building work following a contractor disappearing off the job.

    And to be very clear, pay attention everyone, it’s not a council house.

    Now, can James Forsyth tell us if he is happy to be the author of a story built on such shaky foundations?

  • egh

    Victor @ 6:55 – they do it to accustom us to a ‘real’ language – like the really sophisticated bloke who posted after you! He simply can’t find a word in English to say what he means. Ultimately, nobody knows what anybody else means, of course.

    Seriously, I think the marxist strategy is to deconstruct language so as to place us ‘beyond communication.’ Thus our cultural invaders establish dominance by preventing dialogue: for which, cf Freire.

    As for the expenses smokescreen…

  • Silent Hunter

    Englishman Abroad:

    Er? . . . because they’re both LABOUR and both CROOKS . . . the two things go together.

  • Percy

    When all this furore started, Old Pa Broon while addressing a nurses conference promised he was going to sort it all out. Sitting on the podium behind him nodding away vigourously in total agreement with the dear leader was one Mrs Keen. I wondered then how long it would be before things caught up with this ghastly woman.

  • Nick

    Didn’t Frank Dobson continue to live in a council house while he was in the cabinet?

    Between them the Keens claimed over £38,000 in each of the last two years for what they claim is their second home, tax free of course. Is this not a clear case of fraud?

  • Anoneumouse


  • Silent Hunter

    Is that the clang of cell doors I hear?


  • Englishman Abroad

    I am just curious as to why a couple with a joint income of £125,000 – before expenses, of God only knows what – justify being allocated a council house.

  • Moraymint

    Well, I can’t believe we’ve reached the end of the whole expenses saga anyway. Not if the DT is doing its job properly.

    I’m still baffled about the Balls/Cooper situation though; are they clean then? Shurely shum mishtake?

  • Battle 2807

    It is my understanding that this government brought in legislation that ANY property (council or privately owned) which was unoccupied for 6 or more months could be taken into council control.
    Talk about ill-thought-out legislation, and ha ha ha to the Keens. I hope they lose an awfull lot of money….
    (…as well as their pensions, salary, additional cost allowance, perks, and yes their freedom.)

  • Cath

    Is this a council house?

    If not, what business is it of Hounslow Council whether the house is occupied or not?

  • Alan Wesson

    ‘Just to compound the Keen’s (sic) problem’… Come on, Spectator – there are two Keens being mentioned in this article, so the apostrophe should come AFTER the S, not before it. O tempora! O mores!

  • Peter

    Well we haven’t had a ministerial resignation since last Wednesday.

    It’s been a stable week for the bunker.

  • David

    This is hilarious.

  • Kevyn Bodman

    More details needed.

    Is it a council house rented by the Keens?
    If so how did that happen? Are they eligible to be council tenants?

    If it isn’t rented from Hounslow council what has it got to do with them, whatever the political control of Hounslow council is?

  • jaydeeaitch

    So, they lose their house, followed by their jobs and possibly their liberty, all because of laws introduced by their own party.

    I don’t know these two, but there is schadenfreude about.

  • Victor, NW Kent

    Pedantically, the Council cannot repossess the Keen home since it did not have original possession.

    The BBC is now becoming infamous for errors in its use of commonplace words.

    The council can expropriate the property. That means to change its ownership by lawful force.

    These blogs are getting like Lemony Snicket – one has to explain the correct use of language.

    Ex-Grammar School boy.

  • Sally Chatterjee

    Second home in Hounslow? That’s on the Picadilly line plus there’s the express into Paddington. Cheeky!

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