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Gravy train MP may regret buying saucepan on her expenses

PUBLISHED: 18:03 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 12 August 2010

UTENSILS: MP Jacqui Lait spent £160 of taxpayer’s cash...on a saucepan!

UTENSILS: MP Jacqui Lait spent £160 of taxpayer's cash...on a saucepan!

BOROUGH MPs have defended their expenses following the long-awaited publication of their receipts. Beckenham MP Jacqui Lait maintained her expenses were not excessive despite detailed forms showed claims including £160 for a pan, £96.99 for a rubbish bi

BOROUGH MPs have defended their expenses following the long-awaited publication of their receipts.

Beckenham MP Jacqui Lait maintained her expenses were not excessive despite detailed forms showed claims including £160 for a pan, £96.99 for a rubbish bin, £90 on "replacement mugs" £89.99 on a radio alarm and £3,950 on re-carpeting.

She charged the taxpayer between £150 and £200 per month for her flat to be cleaned and sends her bed sheets to the laundry service on a weekly basis.

The former shadow planning minister said: "I have always been horrified at the cost of a waste paper bin."

A waste paper bin on the Ikea website costs £9.99, but Ms Lait said: "I don't shop at Ikea."

Asked why her pan was so expensive, she said: "Oh for goodness sake. It was so long ago I can't remember. I would spend that much if it was my own money. If I thought it was excessive I wouldn't have claimed for it."

The backbencher maintains she finds it "easier" to have her bedding sent to the laundry instead of using her washing machine.

She said: "I get my bedding sent to the laundry every week. I do use my washing machine, but one of the things involved here is the time. It is much quicker and easier to send it to the laundry. Do you know how long it takes to iron sheets? It takes a long time."

Ms Lait did show a more frugal side in claiming £2.55 for staples in January 2008, allowed under her Incidental Expenses Allowance.

The MP said she would not hold a group meeting for residents to question her claims because she didn't see "the point" but denied she was scared to face their wrath.

She said: "I will reply to letters and e-mails. What would be the point of having a public meeting? I can't see any point. I wouldn't be afraid. I look forward to receiving letters and e-mails when I can explain in detail."

But she did promise to give the Times an "edited" version of her diary when she "has the time" so residents can know what she is doing on their behalf.

Ms Lait again rebuffed the idea of living full-time in Beckenham and not having a second home.

She said: "As you know my husband is the leader of the council in East Sussex and is required to live there. Do you want me to get a divorce? Because that is the logic of what you are saying."

Meanwhile Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill claimed £1,021 for blinds and £1,200 on furniture and electrical items. He also claimed £14,000 for stamp duty and solicitors' fees for the purchase of his flat in his constituency and has since charged up to £1,426 a month in mortgage.

His most frugal claim was 20 pence for paperclips. Mr Neill was not available for comment.

During 2007/08 Orpington MP John Horam claimed £2,990 for mortgage repayments on his Westminster flat and £750 for cleaning and laundry.

He also spent £3,313 on repairs and renovations.

kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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