Suffolk MP claimed more than �8,000 for gardening

A SENIOR Suffolk MP claimed more than �8,000 over five years for the upkeep of the garden at his second home, it has emerged.

Elliot Furniss

A SENIOR Suffolk MP claimed more than �8,000 over five years for the upkeep of the garden at his second home, it has emerged.

Sir Michael Lord, who represents Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and is a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, is the latest MP to have his expenses exposed by The Daily Telegraph.

It reports that Sir Michael, 70, submitted a number of claims for gardening carried out at his Suffolk home - designated as his second home for the purposes of the additional cost allowance - including more than �1,500 for work on trees.

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Before entering Parliament, Sir Michael, 70, was a professional arboriculturalist consultant - or tree expert - and is a fellow and former president of the Arboricultural Association.

The Daily Telegraph reported that in July 2006 Sir Michael submitted an invoice for �320 which stated: “Felling three trees. Cutting and clearing away brush on to fire. Also cutting lime suckers at front near pond and casting away.”

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He submitted further claims of �650 for felling a dangerous tree, �700 for “tree work” in November 2005 and more bills for grass cutting, hedge trimming, spraying paths and wood cutting.

Sir Michael also claimed more than �6,000 over five years for heating oil while another expenses bill, dating from 2006, showed he claimed �2,789.90 for a new bathroom suite at his Suffolk home and an additional �2,046.27 to have it fitted.

In October that year he also claimed �3,721.93 for repairs to a “brew house” at his property, including the repair of a chimney and the replacement of roof timbers.

Sir Michael, who earns a �99,114 salary for his work as an MP and the Deputy Speaker of the House, was unavailable for comment last night but told The Daily Telegraph his claims were “all entirely legitimate”.

He said: “They involved removing dead and dangerous trees on the advice of the local authority.”

Sir Michael said the other costs were also justifiable in the running of a second home and that the “brew house” was an old brick outbuilding at the property that he used as his office.

Stephen Britt, chairman of the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Conservative Association, said in a statement that the items listed appeared to constitute “reasonable expenditure” on a second home over the period in question.

He said “Having just spoken with our Association office, I can report that no members have raised the issue today with either myself or our organising secretary, Mrs Diane Smith.

“The Association is very supportive and proud of Sir Michael in his role as Deputy Speaker and fully understand that there are significant extra costs involved when running two homes as part of his calling.”

2004-05: �20,338

2005-06: �21,624

2006-07: �22,110

2007-08: �23,047

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