MPs’ Expenses

28 May 2009

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

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 similar flat.

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.

back to expenses

back to topical issues

Topical issues...

On the web...

Created by GMID Design & Communication

Home | Contact me | Articles | Events round up | In parliament
Links | Local issues | Policy issues | Press releases | About me