Lamb close to quitting over expenses row
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb revealed this week that the furore over MPs expenses had brought him close to quitting politics.Mr Lamb published details of his additional cost allowance claims on his website with a personal statement setting out his hopes that the system can be cleaned up.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb revealed this week that the furore over MPs expenses had brought him close to quitting politics.
Mr Lamb published details of his additional cost allowance claims on his website with a personal statement setting out his hopes that the system can be cleaned up.
“There's no exaggeration, and it's an attempt to be honest about what I am claiming for,” he said. “There's no white goods, no hi-fi's no stereos.”
Figures show that among the claims over the four years Mr Lamb claimed monthly mortgage interest payments of between �1006.47 and �1056.22 depending on the interest rate and between �12 and �15 for food.
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He also made claims to get a shower repaired, and a �1826 claim to refurbish his bathroom and retile it because of leak problems.
But the files show how he got the work carried out by a Norwich-based plumber to save money because firms in London were too expensive.
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“The view I have taken is that you shouldn't claim for things that we can do ourselves, or would be an improvement to the flat - which should be our responsibility because we own it,” he said.
Mr Lamb said he had been stung by a piece in the national newspaper claiming he was one of the top 20 claimers in the country. He said the figures were misleading because they grouped office costs with his personal expenses.
And he said the row had made him question whether to continue as an MP.
“I have had the worst 24 hours of my life, I feel deeply depressed by it and it's very painful,” he said. “The reason I am in the top 20 is that I have two members of staff who both went on maternity leave - one of them twice. But if you look I am one of the lowest in Norfolk.”
He said he was also facing a �19,000 liability for his former constituency offices and was now agonising over whether to claim for it as he is entitled to do or add it to his mortgage because of the public anger over expenses.
“It's a legitimate claim, but I have got a real dilemma - if I claim it I will be condemned as a sinner and it will put me at the top of the list. If I do not I will be liable for it and will have to put it on my mortgage.
“It's taken forever, the trouble is you are trawling back over four years and it's quite hard to remember sometimes. I have made mistakes over this period, but where I've noticed it I corrected it straight away.
“It's incredibly damaging and rightly so,” he said. “I would feel exactly the same if I was a member of the public. It's incredibly important for people to realise that not everybody is like it, and some can be trusted.
“The truth is that far from being on the gravy train, we are in overdraft most of the time.”
And he said he would be prepared to sell his flat in London as part of moves by Parliament to re-establish faith in the system.
“I want a system which everyone accepts and trusts,” he added.