01 May 2006

Minister claimed expenses to pay for mortgage

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
01 May 2006

Northern Ireland minister Shaun Woodward was last night at the centre of calls for a shake up of the parliamentary expenses system after it emerged that he claimed thousands of pounds of public money towards his London home despite owning a string of other houses.

The multi-millionaire claimed £71,719 towards a mortgage on his apartment in the capital's South Bank area. There is no suggestion that the minister has broken Commons rules.

Speaking to the Observer, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said he had written to the senior salaries review board, which oversees MPs' pay, asking for a change.

"The system is designed to enable MPs quite properly to stay in London overnight, it was not designed to help already rich MPs with their mortgages in distant parts of the country."

Mr Woodward told the Sunday paper that he had not broken any rules.

"Everything is done through accountants and I am scrupulous about every bill and every receipt. It is entirely legal, appropriate and double-checked by lawyers."

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