Bob Neill tops MPs' spend perk list

PUBLISHED: 17:24 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:59 12 August 2010

PENSIONERS say MPs have their noses in the trough amid revelations they spend thousands in taxpayers money on buying and furnishing their second homes.

PENSIONERS say MPs have their 'noses in the trough' amid revelations they spend thousands in taxpayers' money on buying and furnishing their second homes.

The fury was sparked by the publication of a 'John Lewis list', used by House of Commons officials to determine whether an expenditure claim submitted by an MP is reasonable. It details items MPs can claim in an Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) to maintain their properties, including £10,000 kitchens, £750 television sets and £200 blenders. MPs can claim items up to £23,000 per year.

Pensioner Joe Starling, said: "There is so much dishonesty about, it's very sad. They all have their noses in the trough. They must be struggling with their huge salaries. Perhaps they'd like some more of my 25p a week pension raise."

Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill, (pictured above) who lives approximately 12 miles from Westminster in Chislehurst but owns a second home in London, came joint first out of a total 645 MPs for the highest ACA in 2006/7. That year he spent £22,110.

Mr Neill attributed his expenditure to the purchase of his home in Chislehurst - his first constituency address. He said: "People demanded in the by-election that I should have a home in the constituency. The majority of the expenses went on legal fees and stamp duty."

Critics have accused MPs of profiting from public money and argued they should live in properties owned by Parliament, moving out when they are no longer elected.

Campaign director of the Taxpayer's Alliance Mark Wallace said: "There is no other job in the world where you would be allowed to do that. MPs are doing very well from investing our money in their properties."

Asked whether he would consider house sharing with other MPs, Mr Neill said: "It's an interesting idea."

The publication of the list provoked calls for all expenses to be made public and backdated to 2004. Currently MPs can spend up to £250 on items and £400 per month on food without providing receipts.

Beckenham MP Jacqui Lait, who also owns a second home, defended the allowance and said she didn't think £200 for a blender was excessive. She said: "If that's the price in John Lewis then it's fair enough. It's irrelevant what my constituents pay for things."

Mr Wallace lambasted Mrs Lait's comments. He said: "That is a very arrogant and quite remarkable thing to say. MPs are meant to be in touch with their constituents."

"They need to realise that this money doesn't come from thin air. It comes from hard-working families and pensioners who wouldn't dream of buying a £200 blender. I have never even seen one.

"Comments like this will fuel suspicion that our politicians live in a parallel world and are increasingly out of touch.

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