Wednesday, May. 13, 2009

Douglas Hogg, former Agriculture Secretary

The U.K. is in the middle of yet another political scandal, one that reaches across both the main parties, the ruling Labour Party and the opposition Conservatives. And this time, it's all about expenses, the details of which have been leaked by national newspaper The Daily Telegraph. From the alleged clearing of a moat (yes, a moat) to packets of dog food, TIME tracks the most outlandish claims made by MPs and paid for by the taxpayer.

The claims

Hogg submitted a claim of roughly $3,000 for the clearing of a moat surrounding his country estate. The Conservative MP also put in $22,000 for a full-time housekeeper (and the car she drove), work done on his stables and even the tuning of his piano. Indeed, Hogg himself admitted in a letter to the House of Commons in 2003 that his expenses were so high that he couldn't submit receipts for each item as MPs were required to do.

The justification

"Whilst some items may be disputable as to whether they do or do not fall within the allowance, I would suggest that it is certain that allowable expenditure exceeds the allowance by a sizeable margin and consequently we need not spend too much time on debate."

The response

Hogg said all of his claims had been made with the prior agreement of the House of Commons Fees Office. And while he did include the moat on a list of expenses submitted to the authorities, he maintained that he never wanted taxpayers to foot that part of the bill.