MPs called to book over expenses

MPs IN Comet country have replied to a call to reveal details of their expenses claims. All five MPs were asked for the details by The Comet in light of the controversy surrounding MPs expenses. Only Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, supplied d

MPs IN Comet country have replied to a call to reveal details of their expenses claims.

All five MPs were asked for the details by The Comet in light of the controversy surrounding MPs' expenses.

Only Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, supplied details of his additional cost allowance claims, while Nadine Dorries, Barbara Follett and Oliver Heald said theirs were currently being reviewed.

North East Beds MP Alistair Burt has refuted allegations that he over-claimed �1,000 in rent and was allowed to keep it.

This week Mr Burt said many of the claims against him were "nonsense" and that a TV movie he bought for �4.50 at a London hotel was an adventure film although he could not remember its title.

Also, after it was revealed he claimed �220.45 for sundries like alcoholic drinks, nuts and soft drinks during his hotel stays he agreed to pay the money back saying: "I do accept that the climate has changed, and although I thought these were perfectly fair subsistence charges I will repay them immediately."

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Mr Burt was accused of over-claiming payments for his flat in south-east London by �200 a month for five months in 2006. He also denies this in a letter to the Daily Telegraph saying: "There was no over-payment, and the Fees Office has never suggested there was.

"I kept my hotel costs as modest as possible. A daily allowance was available to cover food and drink, and at the end of the day my receipts show that I tended to have a soft drink more often than not and either a packet of crisps or nuts, which I do not regard as excessive.

"No issues were raised by the House authorities in relation to them."

The only receipt he could provide to The Comet was for the past month covering rent of �1,890 and council tax of �206.

North East Herts MP Oliver Heald said it was not possible to produce any copies of his House of Commons accounts or receipts saying: "My accounts for the past four years are in five bundles and with the Cameron review body after being redacted by the Fees Office. It is just physically impossible to provide any documents at the moment."

Mid Meds MP Nadine Dorries was also unable to provide any documents or receipts of her expenses, with her office saying: "We have been in contact with the Fees Office and Ms Dorries' expenses are in the process of being redacted. Therefore, we will be unable to provide you with copies at the moment."

A spokesman for Barbara Follett, MP for Stevenage and minister for the East of England, said: "At the moment, we don't actually have them. They are with Number 10, where they are looking at all the ministers' expenses."

The spokesman said once the claims are returned to Mrs Follett, and any personal information has been removed, someone will go through the paperwork with a Comet reporter.

Peter Lilley MP has exclusively revealed a breakdown of his additional cost allowance claims including a bill for over �3,000 for food.

In papers supplied to The Comet for the two financial years from 2004-05 and 2006-07 the member for Hitchin and Harpenden claimed a total of �41,877 for his second home in Clarendon Street in London.

Over those years Mr Lilley claimed �24,502 in mortgage repayments, �3,300 on food, �2,866 on utilities, �2,108 on council tax, �700 on cleaning, �2,569 on maintenance and �2,558 on repairs, insurance and security.

He also claimed an additional 'other' expense of �3,274 in 2006-07 for "Repairs and making good following repeated leakage from drain which traverses the upstairs rooms".

Mr Lilley said: "The latest reforms are a considerable improvement on the present system but it needs to go further so that MPs are given a flat allowance, substantially smaller than at present, set independently and subject to taxation, to reflect the reasonable cost of having to have a second home and MPs should have to live within it."

He said his food costs were for meals as he rarely got back to his wife for supper more than once mid-week and has to attend lunches and dinners at his own expense.

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