Sir Alan to pay back gardening expenses

PUBLISHED: 10:55 26 May 2009 | UPDATED: 21:47 31 May 2010

SAFFRON WALDEN MP Sir Alan Haselhurst has today announced that he will pay back some of the money he claimed on expenses for the upkeep of his Essex home. The 71-year-old was singled by The Daily Telegraph for claiming £142,119 in second home allowances s

SAFFRON WALDEN MP Sir Alan Haselhurst has today announced that he will pay back some of the money he claimed on expenses for the upkeep of his Essex home.

The 71-year-old was singled by The Daily Telegraph for claiming £142,119 in second home allowances since 2001, despite having no mortgage on the Duddenhoe End property.

The expenses claims also show he has charged the taxpayer almost £12,000 over five years for gardening bills.

Despite last week ruling out paying any money back as it could imply that he was "guilty of something", in a statement released today, he said: "My claim for gardening help has caused concern. Out of respect to my constituents I am this week repaying the sum of £12,000."

While the MPs expenses claims scandal has rocked the nation, Sir Alan has maintained that his claims "have been strictly in accordance with parliamentary rules".

He designated his Essex property as his second home, as was obligatory, on becoming Deputy Speaker in 1997. Since then, he has claimed the House of Commons' Additional Cost Allowance on his second home - his Essex farmhouse.

After a change of rules in April, he now classes his London flat as his second home.

In terms of total expense claims, Sir Alan - who last week threw his hat into the ring to become Speaker of the House of Commons - currently ranks 582nd out of 646 MPs.

However, he admitted that the system of claiming expenses used by MPs is flawed.

"I deeply regret the public anger which the expenses revelations have understandably generated. The rules governing them are no longer acceptable," he said.

"The process of reform has already begun. In the meantime the claims of all Conservative MPs are being urgently reviewed by a Scrutiny Commission set up by David Cameron.

"The claims made by all MPs will be further examined by an independent audit body announced by the Speaker last week.

"I will naturally abide by whatever recommendations are made".

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