Well, first of all I would like to express my total lack of surprise at this "revelation". Every MP who has a constituency outside London does this. They get £22,000 a year each to help them fund a pied-a-terre for those evenings when they have to be in London. Rather disgracefully, many MPs with constituencies very close to London also take advantage of this subsidy. Guido has been chipping away at this particular trough for a good while, and he knows more about it than I do.
In principle, I can see the necessity of MPs having second homes in London. If I was regularly sent away as part of my job I would expect my employer to foot the bill, even if I had known in advance that there might be a lot of travel. If I travelled weekly to the same place, I might even ask my employers to buy a flat for me to use. But would any company pay me the cash and tell me to get on with it in whatever way I fancied? Surely a company flat would be chosen, bought and paid-for by the company. This is the key difference between what "regular" people could expect and what our very special MPs get.
Do go and read the whole thing, as Ed rather pertinently addresses just what reasonable flat would cost an MP £22,000 per year.
However, let us also contemplate your humble Devil's situation: I live on my own in a fairly spacious one-bedroom flat at the top of Brixton Hill. It takes me thirty to forty minutes to get from my sitting room to Westminster and there are plenty of amenities (including a dry cleaner) within five minutes walk.
I rent this flat so I am paying my landlady's mortgage plus a reasonable profit on top: this costs me £10,200 per annum (this includes central heating and water rates). MPs also claim for Council Tax, of course, which (with my discount for lone living) costs about £750 per year. Except, of course, that my lone living discount is only 25%: second homes attract a 50% reduction. So, we'll call it £500 per year for an MP.
So, my total claimable costs would be £10,700. So what the fuck are they spending the other £11,300 on, eh? Either they are fraudulently claiming expenses, or they are renting or buying places which are far more luxurious than they need—let us not forget that their second home allowance alone is only just less than the median wage.
Further, these corrupt bastards use our money in order to buy flats which they then get to keep the profit on. It is high time that we put a stop to this.
Let me suggest a really simple solution: MPs may not pay a mortgage with their expenses. They may only claim for rent and they may only claim for rent on a flat in London (to stop the inevitable troughing bastards who will attempt to use their salary to buy in London whilst claiming rent on their constituency homes).
Anyone object? Other than the corrupt MPs*, that is?
* That is to say, "all of them."