Wednesday, May. 13, 2009

Sir Michael Spicer, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs

The claims

The most senior of the Tory backbench MPs claimed $8,600 over nine months for the maintenance of his garden. And back in December 2006, Spicer submitted a detailed invoice that mentioned "hedge cutting ... helipad" — and which he now claims was a "family joke." (One bill for $930 included 4½ hours spent cutting the hedge around the helipad and vegetable garden.) Sir Michael also successfully claimed for the costs of hanging a chandelier in his manor house.

The justification

"I do think it is acceptable. There was an allowance and it's an expensive business running two houses. If people say you should not claim your allowance then that's a different world, a world I wasn't in."

The response

Spicer hasn't said as of yet whether he will pay anything back. But Tory leader David Cameron announced Tuesday that all shadow Cabinet members who've had expenses questioned will repay the money, while any MPs who refuse will be expelled.