I have been contacted by the
Telegraph asking me questions about my expenses claims. Their email is
marked private and confidential and specifically prohibits any unauthorised disclosure.
My response to them is posted below and their Chief Reporter emailed to thank me
for my comprehensive reply:
I have already posted details of, and comments on, my claims (including
on the pictures) on my website http://www.lynnejones.org.uk/expenses20May.htm.
I think I submitted the claim for the plumbing bill in August because I believed that
the claim I had submitted as a supplementary to the July claim was not paid or maybe
I did not keep a record of the supplementary claim. The invoice with both claims was
identical. When I went through my claims online some weeks ago, I did not pick this
duplication up so thank you for drawing it to my attention. I had picked up other
errors including £1000 underpaid (see my website). As these balanced out to my
detriment, I have taken no action. However, I will now contact the Finance Dept.
to find out whether I was paid twice for the plumbing work.
The expenditure on bathroom refurbishment was for the same bathroom and I paid in
instalments as the work progressed. The work included replacement of all sanitary
fittings; provision of over-bath shower; tiling and decorating; tiling floor; reglazing to
replace non-functioning window fan and installation of new fan. I was not aware of
any limit to such expenditure (nor had I been aware of the existence of the John
Lewis list) though I considered I got a good price for the work. I did not
consider this an improvement, rather the refurbishment of a tatty and unhygienic bathroom.
I did subsequently have a new toilet/shower room installed (as referred to work to be
commenced by the builder on one of his invoices in your possession) but I did not claim
for this as I regarded it as an improvement.
You will also see that I stopped claiming for ground rent. This was because (along with 38
other residents) we collectively bought the freehold. I paid for this myself.
I am aware that my flat has increased in value since I bought it in 1992, though I bought
it in a market in which prices were still falling. I have not sought to make claims
for capital enhancements as, I think, illustrated by the above. When capital gains
tax is due, I will pay it. My mortgage claims (currently £125 a month due to low
interest rates) will have been considerably less than the costs of claiming for renting a
I have tried to submit claims that are in both the spirit and letter of the
rules as I understood them, using the benchmark that, in order to carry out my
parliamentary duties, it was reasonable for me to expect that the home I live in in London
would be of a similar standard of comfort and décor as my family home. I have
claimed for items that I consider to be of good quality rather than luxurious eg
wallpaper. I have an estimate for decorating work that is considerably in excess of
that which I claimed. As I considered this estimate excessive, I sought another
quote which made considerable savings. I had previously decorated my main
home using the same make of wallpaper. There is a considerable amount of
furniture (and pictures) in my flat that I brought from home as when I was first elected,
the additional costs allowance was insufficient to cover all my costs.
If all this is of interest to your readers, they might also like to know that, for several
years, I contributed from my own salary to the salaries of my staff. The first two years I
did this, I transferred £9000 a year, the third year £6000 then decreasing as the
staffing allowance improved to better reflect the costs of fair wages and reasonable
staffing levels. Even so, I still have to transfer money from the incidental costs
allowance to the staffing budget. I have four members of staff, three full time.
I also purchased a risograph for £7500. Even though it is used for parliamentary
work as well as political work, I have not claimed for any portion of its purchase price.