Parliament in crisis after MPs’ expenses scandal

The Houses of Parliament have been swirling in controversy this week with several MPs and peers being exposed for wasting public money on a whole range of weird and wonderful luxuries and services during the expenses scandal.

This week will be remembered for the unusual and extravagant uses some MPs have found for taxpayers’ money, which has been used to cover the cost of clearing a moat, a jar of piccalilli and an expensive trouser press.

Some of the expense claims and uses for parliamentary allowances that have made national headlines this week include:

  • Conservative MP Michael Ancram put the cost of having his swimming pool boiler serviced on his parliamentary allowances. He has, however, agreed to repay the money.
  • Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, did not pay capital gains tax on a property she sold despite having told the Commons authorities it was her second home. She has now agreed to pay the tax.
  • Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell employed a high-end interior designer to refurbish his small flat in central London at taxpayers’ expense but has agreed to repay £1,490.66.
  • Former Conservative cabinet minister Douglas Hogg put in an expense claim to cover the cost of having the moat cleared, piano tuned and stable lights fixed at his country manor house. He has agreed to repay £2,200 for the moat clearing.
  • Labour MP Phil Hope has agreed to pay back more than £41,000 he claimed in expenses to refurbish his second home.
  • Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne put in receipts for bus tickets and groceries. These include milk, fluffy dusters, toilet rolls and chocolate HobNobs. He has also agreed to pay back £119 for a trouser press.
  • Conservative MP Andrew MacKay has resigned as parliamentary aide to David Cameron after it emerged he used his second home allowance to pay around £12,000 a year in mortgage payments on the flat he shares with his wife near Westminster. Meanwhile his wife, Julie Kirkbride, MP for Bromsgrove, has used her allowance to pay off a similar amount on the loan for the couple’s family home in her constituency.