The most senior gay Conservative MP, Alan Duncan has become the lastest politician to have their expenses exposed by the Daily Telegraph. The Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, charged the tax payer for more than £4,000 of gardening and more than £1,400 in mortgage interest payments for a home he originally purchased outright.
The House of Commons expense system has come under intense scrutiny ahead of the official publication of MP’s expenses originally due to be next month. Expenses are tax free payments for items essential to a politician’s Parliamentary work.
In March 2007, Mr Duncan, the multi-millionaire MP for Rutland and Melton submitted a claim for £3,194 gardening which was not accepted by Commons authorities. The fees office wrote to Mr Duncan suggesting that the claim might be considered not to be “within the spirit” of the rules.
But according the Daily Telegraph, Mr Duncan had already claimed more than £4,000 of gardening. He reportedly wrote to officials saying the claim was “to cover only basic essentials such as grass cutting.” His hardening was paid £6 an hour for up to 16 hours a week. Considerable hours given than Mr Duncan’s grounds were less than an acre.
According to the newspaper, In March 2007 Mr Duncan was able to claim £598 to overhaul his lawnmower. He needed a further £41 to fix a punctured tyre.
The MP purchased his house in Rutland without a mortgage before he was elected for Parliament in 1992. But in 2004, Mr Duncan mortgaged the property which allowed him to claim £1,400 in mortgage interest payments each month. Over the past six years he has claimed £127,658 in second home allowances, just £126 of the maxmimum allowed under the rules.
Mr Duncan told the Daily Telegraph that he had mortgaged his London home in order to purchase his home in Rutland. “I moved the legal charge needed for the mortgage from my London house to my Rutland home when I refinanced my borrowings.
“Everything I have claimed has been legitimate and approved by the fees office.”
Last month, Mr Duncan made headlines when he joked about killing Miss California, Carrie Prejean after she said that marriage “should be between a man and a woman.”
Appearing on BBC news quiz Have I Got News for You on Friday, Mr Duncan called her a “silly bitch”.
He said: “I don’t agree with her at all.’
A few minutes later he added: “If you read that Miss California has been murdered, you will know it was me, won’t you?”
Fellow guest Katy Brand appeared shocked by the comment, saying: “That’s a hell of a statement to be making on camera there, Alan.”
The BBC received a number of complaints following his joke.