‘Pay what you owe’ MP won’t pay interns

David Gauke, MP for South West Herts.
David Gauke, MP for South West Herts.
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THE Treasury minister says tax avoiders should ‘pay what they owe’ – but pays his constituency interns nothing for their work, and claimed back the stamp duty on his second home in London from the taxpayer.

David Gauke, who is also the MP for South West Herts, this week said it is “morally wrong” to pay tradesmen cash in hand in return for discounts.

Speaking on BBC Two’s Newsnight on Monday, Mr Gauke said: “The specific point I was making is where a tradesman says, ‘Here’s a 10 or 20 per cent discount on your bill if you pay me cash in hand.’

“That is meaning that revenue is not being paid that should be paid.”

But internet bloggers were quick to highlight the £10,248.32 he claimed in expenses for stamp duty and fees spent buying his second home in London. They said this was tax avoidance, too.

They also said Mr Gauke employs interns, but only pays their travel expenses – depriving them of the cash he owes them for their work.

When the Gazette phoned Mr Gauke’s constituency office, his intern, who refused to give her name, answered the phone.

She said she was only being paid travel expenses and was recruited for a three-month internship.

But she said: “There’s not going to be one after me.

“We do get decent expenses and it’s good working for David Gauke. I’m at university at the moment and needed the experience.”

Mr Gauke refused to speak to the HeraldExpress, but one of his Treasury spokesmen issued a statement.

It said: “The tax minister was clear that it is fine to pay in cash, but where that is done in order to artificially reduce a tax bill that is, of course, wrong.

“While this is clearly not in the same league as multi-million pound tax dodges - and our priority remains to tackle large-scale aggressive avoidance by the richest in our society - the hidden economy does cost the exchequer and it does mean other people have to pay more in tax to fund our public service.

“That is not fair.”

David Gauke later emailed the HeraldExpress.

He said: “On the intern point, in short, this is a role helping out in my constituency party.

“As with most constituency associations, South West Hertfordshire Conservatives relies on volunteers and cannot afford to pay a large number of staff.

“Most of the role involves working with the local party on matters like council election campaigns rather than working for me.

“In addition to work in the constituency office, there is also a chance to spend some time in Westminster learning about Parliament.

“It provides an opportunity to do some interesting voluntary work and learn something about politics.

“It is the type of work experience offered by many MPs, constituency associations and media organisations.”

Are you a tradesman who has something to say about Mr Gauke’s comments? Phone us now – 01442 898451.