Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MPs Defend Lavish Lifestyles to Public; Expenses Were Claimed for Everyday Items

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MPs Defend Lavish Lifestyles to Public; Expenses Were Claimed for Everyday Items

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson ;William Green

MPs who charged the taxpayer for everything from spoons to redecorating bedrooms last night defended their lavish lifestyles.

Across the North East elected members from all parties have made expenses claims for the kind of daily living costs their constituents have to fund themselves.

Bills were handed in every month for TV licences, newspapers, light bulbs, taxis and food costs. And while the receipts published by Parliament yesterday reveal the vast scale of seemingly inexpensive everyday items MPs are not prepared to pay for themselves, they also show the large housing costs they passed on to the taxpayer.

Many of the region's Labour MPs, who defend large majorities in some of the UK's safest seats, have refused to pay for fridge freezers, DVD players, and the cost of redecorating bedrooms.

Many have claimed for bedroom furniture, including draws, closets, bed covers, bed pillows and even the beds themselves.

Tyne Bridge MP David Clelland even claimed pounds 470 for an oriental rug.

Few appear to do any cleaning, with lots of North MPs hiring a cleaner at the cost of up to pounds 220 a month.

With the truth behind their lifestyles finally out, attention last night turned to the changes needed to bring trust back to politics.

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, who invited The Journal to view her unedited expense claims before they were published by Parliament, said she wanted to see changes introduced soon.

"I have always said we should be more transparent about what we are claiming, that is why my expenses are on my website. But we have to realise there will be cost involved when we send people to London as a representative." Sir Alan Beith, the Berwick MP who wants to clear up British politics as the new Commons Speaker has charged taxpayers thousands of pounds for cleaning his second home, and for laundry. …

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