South East Cambs MP blames new rules for expenses hike

SOUTH East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice has blamed the “stupidity” of the expenses system for a stark increase in his recent claims.

The former agriculture minister had been claiming mortgage interest payments of �422.45 a month for a property he was renting in Kennington, London, but a recent change in the expenses system banned MPs from doing so.

The new rules still allow MPs to claim rent on one property however, and in the weeks before the tougher expenses rules come into force, Mr Paice let out his flat in Kennington to new tenants and rented another one nearby for �350 a week.

As a result, the recently knighted MPs expenses claim on housing from the taxpayer rocketed from �5,069 up to �18,200 a year. More than 30 other members of parliament have made a similar move.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Mr Paice, who has broken no rules, said: “The stupidity of the system is that I was quite happy claiming my mortgage interest relief. The taxpayer was a lot better off that way.”

The Fordham resident confirmed that it was the recent rule change that prompted him to rent out his Kennington flat, arguing that he shouldn’t have to subsidise his own job.