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The shadow cabinet defends itself

Pasted below are the verbatim defences from individual members of the shadow cabinet to the criticisms made of them:

Chris Grayling said:

"I needed two loans to buy my London flat in 2001. One was the standard maximum loan available for a second property and the second was to pay for the 20 per cent deposit. I raised the deposit money through a mortgage on my main home. The Fees Office was notified on several occasions about this arrangement and has always been perfectly happy with it. The arrangement came to an end in 2006 when the two loans were consolidated. The same monthly claim for mortgage payments has been made throughout the period.

"In addition to serving my constituents, I have spent several years serving in the shadow cabinet, currently as the shadow home secretary. A second home enables me to meet those commitments. I have always been entirely open to my constituents about this and published information about it on my website.

"These claims were made at the point which I received the invoices. As you can see from the documents, I made this clear to the Fees Office at the time."

Michael Gove said:

"From August 2004 until May 2006 my principal home was in Surrey. I lived with family from August 2004 until August 2005 at 251 Upper Chobham Road Camberley and from August 2005 until May 2006 at Pennyfields, Bagshot Road, near Chobham, Surrey. All of the furniture from our family home in London was moved to Surrey in August 2004 and I let 51 Barlby Road from August 2004 until the beginning of July 2005.

"After the tenants moved out I designated 51 Barlby Road as my second home on which I then claimed the ACA. From that date, when staying overnight in London, I used 51 Barlby Road and did not stay in any hotels or clubs.

"I had found it increasingly difficult both to effectively discharge my parliamentary duties and look after my constituents without a base in both London and Surrey. The time spent travelling occupied hours which should have been spent on parliamentary duties. I therefore acquired a permanent second home. The costs here were necessarily, and exclusively, incurred on acquiring that home.

"Since acquiring that home I have not used ACA money to buy furniture."

Cheryl Gillan said:

"I mistakenly submitted a food bill which contained items for which I did not intend to claim back. I am sorry for this and will immediately repay the amount."

Oliver Letwin said:

"I was served a statutory notice by the water company to repair the leaking pipe, which runs underneath the tennis court and garden. No improvements were made to the tennis court or garden."

David Willetts said:

"We had problems with our lighting system which had caused many lights to fuse and needed the attention of an electrician."

Andrew Lansley said:

"Until late 2005, my main family home was in London as that is where I spent the majority of my time. In late 2005 my daughter started at nursery school in Cambridgeshire and from that point onwards my constituency home became my main residence. In my view it would have been contrary to the requirements of the ACA if I had not switched the definition of my main residence at that point. All subsequent claims reflect this legitimate change in my arrangements."

"The work was required in order to maintain the exterior of the property and was fully within the rules. We subsequently moved because the property was not suitable for our children as our main home as they grew older."

Francis Maude MP said:

1. The mortgage had been taken out specifically to buy our second home – which at that time was our Sussex house.  My understanding of the rules at the time was that it was possible to claim for mortgage interest payments in these circumstances as proper expenses of having a second home. The Fees Office informed me the rules had changed and I fully accepted their judgement. Therefore, no claim was made.

2. The London house I rented out had been bought, renovated and furnished with our own money, with the exception of a modestly priced replacement bed. The new flat purchased was therefore properly designated as our second home and enabled me to carry out my parliamentary duties. It was also renovated and furnished entirely with our own money.


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