Thursday 14 May 2009 | MPs' expenses feed | All feeds

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Andrew Lansley sold home after expenses renovations

Andrew Lansley spent more than £4,000 of taxpayers’ money renovating his country home months before he sold it, leaked expenses claims disclose.

 
Andrew Lansley had his Tudor thatched cottage refurbished
Andrew Lansley had his Tudor thatched cottage refurbished Photo: EDDIE MULHOLLAND

The shadow health secretary had his thatched Tudor cottage painted inside and out, using Farrow & Ball paint in some rooms, at a cost of more than £2,000, and also spent more than £500 having the driveway “re-shingled” and grass reseeded before selling it for £433,000.

Months before the Cambridgeshire South MP sealed the property deal, he “flipped” his expenses claim to his Georgian flat in London, where he spent thousands more, including £750 for a Laura Ashley sofa.

Some of Mr Lansley’s claims appear to contravene parliamentary rules, which ban members claiming for “luxury or premium grade” furnishings or using the public purse to “enhance” their property.

He also claimed the full rate of council tax on his second home, despite being eligible for a 10 per cent discount, suggesting that he failed to ensure “value for money” for taxpayers, as required by the parliamentary Green Book.

Mr Lansley’s spending spree began in the 2004-05 financial year, when he claimed £2,487 on furnishings, maintenance and decoration, including £399.80 for handmade curtains and £450.20 to have a chair and stool reupholstered, the latter in Titley & Marr “Hezlett” fabric, which currently costs £45 per square metre.

Then in July, 2005, Mr Lansley submitted a bill for £520.53 covering 21 hours of garden maintenance.

Later the same month there was a bill for £632.40, comprising £231.10 for voile curtains for the sitting and dining rooms, £173.80 for a roman blind for the kitchen and a loose cover for a small chair, which cost £227.50. All three invoices were addressed to his wife, Sally. Mr Lansley also tried to claim back the cost of a £116 barbecue and another £63 for plants, only for the claim to be rejected because plants and garden furniture are banned from claims.

In August and September, the Lansleys had the house painted inside and out. The exterior walls were given two coats of brilliant white Dulux Weathershield paint and all of the window frames were repainted, at a cost of £1,185.

A second invoice covers “internal redecoration, carpentry work and improvements” at a total cost of £1,775, including £965 to paint the morning room and bathroom with Farrow & Ball paint.

In total, Mr Lansley spent more than £4,600 on the house in the village of Melbourn in 2005 before he “flipped” his nominated second home to his London flat, and put the redecorated constituency home on the market. It was sold in June 2006.

Mr Lansley said the work carried out on his cottage “was required to maintain the exterior of the property and was within the rules”.

He said he did not claim any council tax discount “as it would simply represent a transfer from one public body to another” and said he changed his nominated second home from Melbourn to London because, while London had been his main home until 2005, his daughter started nursery school in Cambridgeshire that year.

  • Andrew Lansley

Job: shadow health secretary

Salary: £64,766

Total second home claims

2004-05: £17,165

2005-06: £20,110

2006-07: £19,696

2007-08: £21,399

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