Keep It In The Family Arbuthnot. Baron James asked To Return Excessive Expenses... A Blast From The Past !

James Arbuthnot, the chairman of the defence select committee, has been asked to pay back £12,241 in gardening, cleaning and maintenance claims that have been deemed “excessive” by the independent auditor.

The member for North East Hampshire, who went to Eton and is the second son of a baronet, was not told how much he should repay for other claims, however, and has offered to give back £13,486 in total.

Mr Arbuthnot designated a rented property in a Hampshire village as his second home in 2007, which he told the fees office was “an expensive house to run”.
He submitted one hand-written invoice for a three-month period, for "grass, strim, pool, fuel'', which came to £776. The bill for these services for the whole 2006-07 financial year was pounds £1,471.
When The Daily Telegraph disclosed his claims, he said he had made an “error of judgment” in using public funds to clean his swimming pool and promised to repay the money.

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Mr Arbuthnot has been told by Sir Thomas, who has been brought in to assess all claims made under the second home allowance since 2004, that he must pay back £5,840 for gardening services that exceeded his retrospective limit of £1,000 a year.

He was also asked to pay back £5,238 for cleaning services after going over the £2,000 annual maximum set by the auditor, and just over £1,000 for a maintenance bill about which he was asked to provide further details.
Mr Arbuthnot said Sir Thomas did not suggest an amount he should repay for other bills - such as repairs to a summerhouse that the auditor says were not claimable because it was not attached to his second home - so has suggested figures himself.

He told a local newspaper that he had been asked to repay £12,241 but proposed to pay back £13,486 in total. He has already paid back £10,106 since June.
In a covering letter to Sir Thomas, Mr Arbuthnot said: “I have consistently supported efforts to ensure the expenses system is replaced with procedures which are fair, honest and transparent.”

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