SALFORD MP Hazel Blears appeared on television brandishing a cheque to the taxman as she tried to rebuild her reputation following the expenses saga.
Ms Blears hit the headlines after leaked expense claims showed she accrued more than £20,000 per year in second-home allowances as the fall-out from revelations about MPs’ expenses centered on the conduct of the communities and local government secretary.
Ms Blears sent a cheque for £13,000 to the Inland Revenue after revelations she avoided paying capital gains tax on the sale of her London home, but maintains she had acted within the rules and the law.
The leaked expense claims also show that Ms Blears spent £850 on a TV and video and £651 on a mattress for her home in Salford in March 2004. She should have tried Langworthy Road!!
After selling her London property in August 2004, she claimed for two months living in London hotels – including claims for two Kit Kat Chunkies and a glass of wine sad/
Hazel said: “I’m really aware of how angry the public are about all this. I talked to my husband and although I have complied with all the rules and am not liable for the money, I decided that I wanted to pay what I would have done in capital gains tax.
“I put the cheque in the post in order to rebuild my relationship with the people of Salford.”
Despite repaying the money, Ms Blears still insisted she had done nothing wrong and called for a review of the parliamentary expenses system.
She said: “I think the whole system is in disrepute and needs to be reformed top and bottom.
“When I became an MP my first home was in Salford, and when I became a minister the Fees Office said that I had to designate my flat in Kennington as my main home. The reason for this is an old archaic rule that had been in place for about 50 or 75 years.
“If you are a minister, they said that your main home has to be in London because you had to spend most of your time there.
“In 2004 they changed the rules to allow all members to designate which home was their main home.”
Ms Blears also defended her claims for a glass of white wine and two Kit Kats from the mini-bar of a London hotel.
She said: “While I sold my flat in Kennington, I stayed in hotels and I even stayed in a friend’s house to save money because I didn’t have anywhere to live in London. The Kit Kat Chunky was what I had to eat after a day of meetings – I took it from the minibar and it was on the hotel bill which I submitted to the Fees Office.
“It wasn’t as if I’d deliberately claimed for a four-course meal. If people take the view that a Kit Kat Chunky is the basis of all this then they can, but the reality is that the life I lead does mean that I have to come home late and get something to eat. I didn’t look at that bill meticulously and I think it is fair to say that the system needs to be more meticulous.”