..and MP bought carpet on expenses
PUBLISHED: 18:10 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 23 August 2010
A CONSERVATIVE MP has confessed there may be some eyes popping after admitting he used taxpayers money to buy carpets and kitchen tiles. Under tough new rules unveiled by the Commons Speaker Michael Martin after he quit on Tuesday, claims to refurbish
A CONSERVATIVE MP has confessed there may be some 'eyes popping' after admitting he used taxpayers' money to buy carpets and kitchen tiles.
Under tough new rules unveiled by the Commons Speaker Michael Martin after he quit on Tuesday, claims to refurbish second homes will be banned.
Although Gravesham MP, Adam Holloway (pictured right) acted within the rules when he was elected in 2005 he said the expenses scandal had forced change that he would abide by.
The member of the defence select committee spoke to the Reporter moments after the rules were announced on Tuesday night.
But despite the change he maintained the claim was fair at the time, saying it was necessary in order for him to do his job properly because he needed a second home in the borough. He said: "When people see my receipts and they see I have bought carpets and kitchen tiles then there might be some eyes popping. But you spend that money on carpets and tiles because you already paid for them in your first home. Every single item in my receipts I feel comfortable with because I used it to do my job."
He also confirmed he would not give up his second home allowance, a measure taken this week by Dartford MP, Dr Howard Stoate. Following a Parliament vote earlier this month, MPs living less than 20 miles away from Westminster can no longer claim the £24,000 a year second home allowance. Mr Holloway's constituency falls several miles outside of this area and he says as commuting is not practical he will continue to use the allowance. He currently owns a home in Gravesham and rents a flat in Westminster.
"I'd love to sleep in the same bed every night. I'd love to work a normal week but I don't have a normal job. I tried commuting from Gravesham when I sold my London flat five months ago. Some weeks it was doable but most weeks it was a nightmare. Without a second home I wouldn't be able to do my job," he added.
On Tuesday Michael Martin quit his post at 2.30pm, with the Reporter there to witness the historic moment. He returned to the House of Commons at 7.30pm were he released a raft of tough new measures.
They include capping claims on rent or mortgage interest payments on second homes at £1,250 and limiting other household claims to gas, water and electricity bills and building and contents insurance. It means MPs will no longer be able to claim for furniture, cleaning and stamp duty. The practice of 'flipping' designated homes will also be banned following the scandal of MPs who changed addresses for their second home allowances more than once to maximise their claims.
Details of MPs' expenses will now be published quarterly online and a clear test of 'reasonableness' will be applied to all claims by the Department of Resources to weed out anything deemed to be unnecessary.
Since 2005 Mr Holloway has claimed a total of £418,000 in allowances. This includes £246,000 on staff, £66,000 on office costs and £65,000 in second home allowances, at an average of £21,890 a year.
An independent review headed by sleaze watchdog Sir Christopher Kelly has been launched to clean up the system since the scandal in to MPs expenses was revealed.
But with Kent County Council (KCC) elections and European Parliamentary elections both scheduled for June 4 Mr Holloway urged voters not to let the expenses scandal affect their judgement.
He said: "People need to focus on what they want for KCC and what they want for Europe.
"You can't blame the good people who are in the Labour Party and the Tories in Gravesham who are up for election in the Kent County Council elections or for European Parliament who have nothing to do with any of this. It's not their fault."
On the same day Tory leader Mr Cameron announced he plans to hold a public meeting for his constituents in Witney to allow them to question his expenses claims and urged all MPs to do the same. But Mr Holloway refused to confirm whether he would hold a similar meeting.
Mr Holloway also defended Speaker Michael Martin and Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, saying: "I do feel that while this went on while he was presiding over the system there has been an air of 'let's blame him'.
"When he was standing up there I just saw a person under the most extraordinary pressure and I felt a lot of sympathy for him.
"It's the same with Gordon Brown, he's under an enormous amount of pressure. You have to remember they are human beings as well and not just the Prime Minster or the Speaker.