John Redwood: ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’By Hugh Fort
June 29, 2009
Details of expenses claimed by Wokingham MP John Redwood have now been officially revealed, but he says too much information has been blocked from taxpayers’ eyes.
The MP’s expenses claims from 2004 to 2008 were published on the Parliament website last Thursday and reveal claims for maintenance works such as lawn re-seeding and removal of roof moss.
Mr Redwood has insisted his claims fall within guidelines and as one of the cheapest MPs in Parliament he has represented good value for money for the taxpayer and cut his costs further this year.
Parliamentary candidates for the Liberal Democrats and Labour have criticised the claims, saying garden maintenance should not be paid for by the taxpayer, despite it being within the rules for the second home allowance.
Forms revealed to the public for the first time show claims for maintenance works in 2004 and 2005 for Mr Redwood’s Finchampstead home, which was then designated as his second home.
They show Mr Redwood claimed £70.50 for pond maintenance, £2,861 for a new bathroom and £1,762.50 to have moss removed from the roof of his house, garage and other buildings on the property.
He also claimed £1,950 for works to his driveway, £40 for a chimney sweep, more than £700 for gardening, hundreds of pounds for cleaning and £280 to have his lawn re-seeded.
Mr Redwood said: “I have done absolutely nothing wrong.
“The claims I made in 04/05 were made when I owned a large house in London which I registered as my first home.
“The money I have claimed is for maintenance, there’s nothing there that would improve it.
“After the 2005 election I sold the house in London and ever since then the house in the constituency has been my main home.
“I had no benefit from the second home allowance, which I think is a fair way to behave with taxpayers’ money.”
In 2007, after he had sold his home in London and declared his Finchampstead home his first home, the expenses reveal he paid £3,275 for his new London flat to be redecorated and £346.79 on a “fresh air fan”.
The claim forms that have been revealed are substantially blacked out, with details such as addresses, destinations for travel fares claimed and dates on receipts hidden from view, which Mr Redwood has criticised.
The redaction of claims means details such as flipping second home designation is not revealed.
This means Bracknell MP Andrew MacKay’s controversial claims for two second homes with wife and fellow MP Julie Kirkbride would not have been revealed to the public in the documents.
Mr MacKay, whose constituency covers Finchampstead, was discovered as having no main home by Conservative officers trawling through his claim details and asked to stand down as adviser to Tory leader David Cameron.
He has since said he will stand down as MP at the next election.
Mr Redwood said: “Too much was blocked. The details of payments to third parties were blocked and should not have been.
“I was one of just 25 MPs who voted in favour of publishing all our expenses some years ago.”
Wokingham’s political hopefuls have slammed the claims Mr Redwood has made.
George Davidson, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Wokingham, said: “I don’t care whether claiming for gardening and roof repairs is within the rules – it shouldn’t be.
Prue Bray, Wokingham Parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems, said: “The first thing is that there is a ridiculous amount of information blacked out of these forms.
“Why we can’t know what type of stationery MPs use is beyond me.
“On Mr Redwood’s expenses, I’m not sure how he can say de-mossing, a new bathroom and a new driveway are maintenance rather than improvements.
“Also, I pay £11 for my window cleaner, to pay £115 means he must have an awful lot of windows at his house in Finchampstead.”
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