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MPs lift lid on expenses

PUBLISHED: 15:42 21 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:13 07 September 2010

Ham&High Series Reporters POLITICIANS from the Ham&High area opened their doors this week to prove they aren t part of the gang of MPs on the gravy train pocketing luxuries paid for by the taxpayer. Glenda Jackson, Frank Dobson, Rudi Vis, Lynne Featherst

Ham&High Series Reporters

POLITICIANS from the Ham&High area opened their doors this week to prove they aren't part of the gang of MPs on the gravy train pocketing luxuries paid for by the taxpayer.

Glenda Jackson, Frank Dobson, Rudi Vis, Lynne Featherstone and Karen Buck all revealed their receipts this week, and despite the odd extravagant gadget, the MPs were all far from the thousands of pounds in excesses which have been claimed by some of their parliamentary colleagues. The only politician to refuse to let us in was MP for Cities of London and Westminster, Mark Field.

The Conservative said: "The itemised list of my expenses will be published during July and I am maintaining that proper deadline in accordance with the wishes of parliament.

"I do not expect to have to grant journalists the opportunity to visit parliament as part of an inquisition."

The other local MPs opened their books this week.

Rudi Vis is the only MP in the area who claims the second home allowance, where taxpayers' money is used to pay the mortgage on the MP's London or constituency home. The payments have been received by the Finchley and Golders Green MP for his Finchley home since July 2006, when he and has family moved to Suffolk because his wife became ill and was told to live outside the capital.

He has claimed none of the decorating materials and furniture he was entitled to under the allowance and he hasn't claimed for his telephone bills or other luxuries.

He said: "When we moved to Suffolk in 2006 we had to buy new furniture but I didn't charge that - I think it is wrong.

"I wouldn't have a house in London now if I wasn't an MP and I wouldn't have moved from London if my wife hadn't been ill."

However Dr Vis, who is standing down at the next election, has been paying the mortgage since April rather than claiming it on expenses in the wake of the scandal.

"A lot of people think we are swines and we obviously need to repair that," he said.

Lynne Featherstone MP has claimed for impressive office equipment such as a paper folding machine and office walkie talkies, but has been restrained in the parliamentary allowances open to her.

As representative of Hornsey and Wood Green she is entitled to the second home allowance but doesn't take it. She also pays her own mobile phone bill.

She said: "I wouldn't dream of trying to claim anything personal on expenses.

"It's not a great day to be an MP. The general atmosphere is one of sadness, anger and huge disappointment with those who are supposed to set an example."

Other MPs have been commended for saving money.

Glenda Jackson doesn't claim any travel expenses as she uses her freedom pass. The Hampstead and Highgate MP hires her niece in her constituency office but only as a parliamentary intern.

She has made her expenses available on her website www.Glenda-Jackson.co.uk.

Holborn and St Pancras' representative Frank Dobson has had similarly low expenses claims in the past four years although the taypayer does cover his mobile phone.

He, Ms Jackson and Ms Buck are not entitled to a second home allowance because their seats are in central London.

He said: "As a central London MP I've not had the temptation of the second home thing. When I was first elected you could claim rent or hotel bills so you couldn't get any of this other stuff. My own view was I always thought the second home allowance was wrong."

Karen Buck, MP for Regent's Park and Kensington North similarly didn't claim anything for her personal benefit.

She said: "I completely understand why there's public anger however, it's important to remember that many of us have not been making personal gain.


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