David Gauke, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is a former solicitor at a City tax avoidance law firm. He has been criticised for claiming expenses to cover stamp duty on a second home and for offering unpaid jobs at his constituency office.
Gauke was elected as an MP in 2005 for Hertfordshire South west.
He has been at the centre of several minor controversies since then.
In 2013, Gauke was reported to his own department, HM Revenue and Customs, after advertising an unpaid six-month “training” post at his constituency office. At the time HMRC had launched a crackdown on employers not paying the minimum wage.
Gauke had already been criticised for advertising the same unpaid post in 2012, on that occasion calling the position a voluntary internship.
No action was taken against Gauke.
In 2006, Gauke claimed over £10,000 in expenses to cover stamp duty on a second home in London to allow him to carry out his duties as an MP. However, his own home was less than an hour’s travelling time from Westminster.
Before becoming an MP, Gauke worked for Macfarlanes, a City law firm which helps clients create “tax efficient” systems. Gauke’s wife is also a solicitor specialising in corporate tax law.
As a Treasury minister, Gauke famously said it was “morally wrong” for householders to pay tradesman cash-in-hand because it allowed working people to avoid paying tax.
He argued that “ . . . if people do that they have to do so with the recognition that means taxes will be higher for the rest."