Vince Cable and Nick Clegg defend Danny Alexander against tax claims

Danny Alexander: Insists he did 'nothing improper' over expenses.
Danny Alexander: Insists he did 'nothing improper' over expenses.© STV

The new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, was under renewed pressure on Tuesday as his expenses claims came under fire.

Mr Alexander was promoted to the post after just 18 days as Secretary of State for Scotland, as a result of his predecessor David Laws quitting over an expenses row.

However, Mr Alexander then came under fire himself when it emerged he had avoided paying Capital Gains Tax when he sold his tax-payer funded flat in London and bought a new house in Scotland. Then, on Tuesday, the Daily Mail hit out at Mr Alexander, revealing he claimed more than £13,000 in expenses for his wife's travel costs between London and Inverness.

Mr Alexander has yet to comment on the newspaper's claims about train costs, but has strongly denied any wrongdoing with regards to CGT. He insists the tax only has to be paid if someone buys a second home and still owns two properties after three years.

The Inverness MP said: "I have always listed London as my second home on the basis set out in the parliamentary rules as I spent more time in my constituency than I did in London.

"I sold the flat in 2007 and moved to another flat but was advised that CGT was not payable because of the operation of final period relief, which exempts homes from CGT for 36 months after they stop being the main home."

In Detail

On Tuesday, Business Secretary Vince Cable used his first Governmental visit to Scotland to back Mr Alexander, insisting: "Danny Alexander is an exceptionally able politician and will be very good at the job."

Mr Cable also insisted the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury had done "nothing improper", with regards to CGT. He said Mr Alexander had never "flipped" designations and simply followed tax rules, adding: "Danny Alexander made a very clear statement he hasn't done anything improper he's going to get on with the job."

Critics have also suggested that Mr Alexander lacks the financial experience necessary for his new role, but Mr Cable said: "He's extremely able and a tough negotiator and I think he will do that job every effectively."

Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also stepped up to support Mr Alexander, his former Chief of Staff, describing him as "extremely gifted".

He said: "The departure of David Laws is, of course, a very sad thing but it doesn't alter one bit our determination as a coalition Government to get to grips with a huge black hole in our finances.

"The partnership between George Osborne and Danny Alexander is an excellent one and they'll now set to work to fill this black hole so we have sustainable public finances and can do the good things that this coalition Government wants to do in the years ahead."

He added: "Mr Alexander is "as determined as anybody else is" to get to grips with Britain's financial crisis.

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