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‘If there’s an issue, let’s talk’

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman has pledged to meet any constituent who takes issue with her expenses claims.

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman has pledged to meet any constituent who takes issue with her expenses claims.

It emerged this week that Mrs Spelman had claimed £40,000 for bills and cleaning at her second home in Dorridge. The Tory politician had racked up the expenses claims over a four-year period - receiving over £17,000 for electricity, gas and water bills.

Until now the shadow Communities Secretary had escaped the scandals which have engulfed other MPs - her overall additional costs allowance (ACA) was among the lowest in Parliament. But closer scrutiny of the expenses figures showed that she is one of the higher claimants when it comes to bills.

Mrs Spelman had also got into hot water last year after it emerged she had inadvertently misused expenses to pay her children’s nanny.

Speaking this week, Mrs Spelman said: “In terms of ACA claims I am one of the lowest claimants and I have claimed only for running costs. I have not claimed for any capital purchases and I try to keep my claims as low as possible. I do not claim for rent or mortgage interest.”

Yesterday, Mrs Spelman said that she had not received any complaints or criticism from her constituents, but she encouraged anyone who had concerns to attend one of her surgeries. She added that the utility bills were in-line with similar properties.

But Ed Williams, Labour’s prospective MP for Meriden, said: “It is hard to see how these claims represent value for money. £6000 for a year’s gas bill is clearly wildly excessive

“People in Meriden are right to be asking why taxpayers’ money is being used to heat her £2 million mansion.”

The MP’s constituency address is designated as her second home, while her main dwelling is a four-storey townhouse in London. She told the Solihull News that she spent on average four days a week in the capital and that she hadn’t “swapped or changed” the designation.

Edited versions of MP expenses - including Caroline Spelman’s - are now available at www.parliament.uk.

* What do you think? Email solihull_news@mrn.co.uk or write in to the usual address.

 

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