Yeo: Teabags and Private Eye

THANKS to taxpayers, one Suffolk MP has been able to relax reading a satirical magazine while quaffing a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Graham Dines

THANKS to taxpayers, one Suffolk MP has been able to relax reading a satirical magazine while quaffing a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Tea bags from Sainsbury's - both Earl Grey and Gold Label - and a copy of Private Eye both feature in the expenses claims of Tim Yeo, who has been MP for Suffolk South since 1983.

Other shopping items over the past five years include numerous bottles of washing up liquid, coffee, milk and sugar cubes which are all listed as essential expenditure on Mr Yeo's office accounts which have just been released by the House of Commons authorities.

Apart from mortgage, maintenance, cleaning and council tax bills on his designated second home - a Westminster flat overlooking the River Thames - by far the biggest expenditure claims by the MP related to communications.

Mr Yeo hit the headlines when the Daily Telegraph started publishing its expenses files on MPs for charging to the public purse for the purchase of a pink Sony laptop from John Lewis costing �899.

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In 2004, Mr Yeo billed the taxpayers �4,688.25 for design, software and set up costs for his Internet web site, with annual service charges of more than �1,000.

He also claims nearly �3,000 a year for mobile and fixed line telephone costs and hire of a Blackberry, with the annual cost escalating since he became chairman of the globetrotting all-party parliamentary environmental audit committee.

In October 2007, Mr Yeo racked up a mobile phone bill of �1,258.37. “This was when I was abroad on parliamentary business and I needed to be in constant touch with my office because there was a likelihood that Gordon Brown would call a snap general election.”

Mr Yeo's main home is listed as his constituency cottage at East Bergholt. “I did switch it to my London flat when I was a minister because the regulations insist that members of the government live in London.

“When I ceased that role, I reverted to making East Bergholt my main home. That was a long time before the practice of flipping became such an issue.”

Tim Yeo's additional costs allowance (second home) 2004-5 to 2007-8: �87,729

Incidental expenses provision over same period: �69,728