Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert has defended his expenses claims, saying that he had followed Commons rules which allow civil and unmarried partners to be treated the same as married partners.
Mr Herbert claimed £10,000 of £14,700 of stamp duty on a new constituency home in March 2006. Since then, he has claimed the full £1,893 monthly interest charge on the house’s £465,000 mortgage. His civil partner, Jason Eades, owns half of the West Sussex home.
In a statement, Mr Herbert said: ““I was therefore surprised and disappointed when the Daily Telegraph implied this week that I had done something wrong. Their sole objection was that my second home is co-owned by Jason, but they did not raise this concern in relation to other MPs whose second homes are co-owned by their husband or wife.
“I believe that it’s right that the Commons rules are non discriminatory by treating partners and civil partners in the same way as spouses. David Cameron took the same view, and that is why I do not appear in the list of Shadow Cabinet members who have been asked to repay claims.”
He said he does not claim for any household items or discount on the council tax for both his properties. He added that the couple had not “flipped” their designated second home in order to claim more money.
Mr Herbert continued: “I understand the public’s anger about unjustifiable expense claims and I am very sorry indeed that we have let everyone down so badly. I strongly believe that MPs should spend taxpayers’ money with great care and only claim expenses when absolutely necessary. I also believe the public has a right to know how these funds are spent. Expenses should be reasonable and they should be audited. I have always voted for full transparency and tougher rules, and I strongly support the lead taken by David Cameron to clean up the entire system.”
Earlier this week, openly gay Labour MP Ben Bradshaw accused the Daily Telegraph of homophobia after in the way it published his expenses claims.
Mr Bradshaw had claimed around £1,080 per month in mortgage interest payments under the Additional Costs Allowance. This was the total interest payment for the property despite the fact that he jointly owned the home with his civil partner Neal Dalgleish.
He told PinkNews.co.uk: “I have clearly been singled out because my partner is a man. My circumstances are the same as David Cameron yet he was described as ‘Mr Clean’. In fact, I claimed less than him.”