Mole's flat cost �218,000

SETTING up a second home is an expensive business, as Ipswich Labour MP Chris Mole can readily testify.

SETTING up a second home is an expensive business, as Ipswich Labour MP Chris Mole can readily testify. However, there is a big difference between himself and constituents entering the property market - the taxpayers foot his bill.

Mr Mole, who was elected to parliament at a by-election in November 2005, decided to buy a flat in London rather than renting a property or staying in hotels.

His flat cost �218,000, for which he took out a mortgage of �196,174, and he is able to claim back the interest-only portion of the loan from the public purse. He was also able to reclaim the stamp duty and legal fees on the transaction, amounting to �3,174.

Carpets and furnishings cost �851, a television �750 - the Commons Fees Office knocked down his original claim for �1,000 - a DVD recorder �390, a washer dryer �469.99, a refrigerator �289.99, and other electrical items were billed at �269.99.


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Other expenses which have come to light under the Freedom of Information request are �2,408 to set up an internet site in March 2006, accountancy fees of �165, a car phone at �239, a personal organiser costing �12.68, a Bluetooth stereo headset for �69.99, an annual subscription to the Municipal Journal for �140, and �40.85 for London street and tube maps.

“They were not paper maps, but software for my computers, and were essential for carrying out my work in the capital,” said Mr Mole.

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An item under health care for eye tests and new spectacles were claimed on behalf of a member of his staff. All MPs have a legal obligation to ensure that employees who work all day at computer screens have their eyesight regularly checked and corrected.

He said the Commons authorities should not have been so heavy handed with the black pen in covering up some details of the expenses and allowance.

“Quite rightly, the financial details of MPs and staff should be kept private, but I don't think it was necessary to cover over so many of the claims.”

Mr Mole, who last week was appointed junior minister in the Department for Transport, defended his claims for setting up a home in the capital. “MPs have to have a base in London because we attend meetings early in the morning until late at night. Commuting is not an option for most of us.”

EXPENSES CLAIMS

Additional costs allowance (second home costs): �87,119

Incidental expenses provision: �66,945

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