Saffron Walden MP in expenses revelations
SAFFRON Walden s MP Sir Alan Haselhurst has defended recent revelations about the money he has claimed on expenses to pay for the upkeep of his Essex home. The Deputy Speaker has claimed more than �142,000 for his home near Saffron Walden over the last se
SAFFRON Walden's MP Sir Alan Haselhurst has defended recent revelations about the money he has claimed on expenses to pay for the upkeep of his Essex home.
The Deputy Speaker has claimed more than �142,000 for his home near Saffron Walden over the last seven years, despite having no mortgage to pay.
The expenses claims - which have been made public by The Telegraph - also show he has charged the taxpayer almost �12,000 over five years for gardening bills.
Sir Alan said that MPs were expected to keep homes in their constituency as well as in London and that all his claims were legitimate.
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"To maintain two homes out of the net tax income is expensive and you need help - we are not all millionaires," he said. "I pay a gardener for eight hours a week and for a cleaner and if you roll it all up into seven years it seems like a lot, but I don't pay over the odds."
Sir Alan, who has had a flat in London since 1973 and a home in Essex since 1977, said that when he became Deputy Speaker in 1997 his main home was deemed to be in London.
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Since 1997, Sir Alan has claimed the House of Commons' Additional Cost Allowance on his second home - his Essex farmhouse. After a change of rules in April, Sir Alan now classes his London flat as his second home.
"We need a fair expenses system so that parliament is open to everyone," said Sir Alan. "We don't want to go back to an age when only the rich could become MPs.
"Personally I think that MPs should be paid a higher basic salary and have their expenses reduced, but this isn't going to satisfy all the critics.
"Clearly the expenses system will change and MPs will be the poorer for it, but whether this will help the flow of ordinary people into parliament, I'm not sure."
Cllr Peter Wilcock, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman said: "Ordinary people are struggling because of the recession. How can you claim over �150,000 for the upkeep of your family home at the taxpayers' expense? I hope that Sir Alan will now consider repaying these expenses.