ANDREW Murrison, MP for Westbury, has spoken out about the recent expenses scandal.
The MP has invited press to view his expenses accounts and spoken frankly about his claims. He has also vowed to place his receipts in his constituency office where the public can view them on request and to review the costs involved in doing his job and make cuts where possible.
Dr Murrison said he felt it was important to come forward as he felt “implicated by association.”
He said, “People need reassurance that MPs are not, generally, money-grabbing charlatans. In all my claims against allowances I have applied the green book rules and both the written and oral guidance of the fees office. My claims have been officially validated against the prices laid out in the so-called John Lewis list, the benchmark used by officials to determine reasonableness.”
Dr Murrison claims the mortgage interest on a loan that financed the major part of the purchase price of a one bed leasehold flat within walking distance of the Commons (over 100 miles from his family home in Warminster) which he says “is wholly, necessarily and exclusively used for carrying out my job in accordance with the rules on allowances (‘green book’).” This accommodation, he says, is subsidised from his own pocket.
He has claimed the cost of some of the furnishing for the flat together with associated maintenance, servicing, TV license and council tax bills.
Dr Murrison said, “I have sought good value and favoured discounted or sale items as my receipts show. I have not bought whirlpools, patio sets etc or claimed for things like cleaning or gardening except as part of the service charges that I am legally obliged to pay the freeholder of the block in respect of the care of communal areas.”
Dr Murrison said that he had not claimed for substantial bills for professional work in connection with the leasehold of his London accommodation. “Clear instructions in the green book and supplementary advice received orally and confirmed in writing by the fees office would have permitted me to set these bills against my allowances.
He said, “Since the evolution offered the prospect of a boost to the value of the flat and thus a personal financial gain, I decided that a claim would not be right, even though expressly permitted by the green book.
“For the same reason I have not ‘flipped’ or engaged in any financial manoeuvring in relation to my accommodation that might have involved a personal profit.”
Dr Murrison, like many MPs, took a large pay cut when he entered Parliament. His salary as an MP is £64,766 whereas contemporaries in his old job as a doctor in the Navy are on £114,440.
As a Parliamentary Adviser to the Wessex Pharmaceutical Group he earns an extra £3,750 a year and for two weeks training annually in the Royal Naval Reserve he receives around £5,000.
“The catastrophe we now face has been caused by bad rules, excesses and possibly criminality on the part of a few and Allowances that came to be seen as an entitlement and as compensation for pay restraint,” said Dr Murrison, adding that the problems was also caused by an overly complex scheme for remuneration, a reliance on the Commons authorities to validate claims and arbitrate on reasonableness and a tendency to claim up to the maximum because it was possible to do so without outside scrutiny and because many MPs felt otherwise poorly rewarded.
He said, “It has been made worse by unseemly attempts by some to prevent publication of allowances which looked sly and increasingly desperate,” and also noted that the climate of the recession further fuelled public resentment.
The MP was recently featured on the blog of political commentator Iain Dale who had received an email from one happy constituent who had received a prompt response to an email sent to Andrew Murrison late on a Monday evening.
Read the post (titled ‘In praise of Andrew Murrison’
) at http://iaindale.blogspot.com/