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John Gummer MP to repay £11,500

PUBLISHED: 08:55 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 July 2010

SUFFOLK'S most senior MP is to repay £11,500 of his second home allowance and donate the same amount to charity as his way of admitting the "corporate responsibility'' of politicians for the expenses scandal that has rocked Westminster.

SUFFOLK'S most senior MP is to repay £11,500 of his second home allowance and donate the same amount to charity as his way of admitting the “corporate responsibility'' of politicians for the expenses scandal that has rocked Westminster.

John Gummer claimed £23,000 in 2007/8 for work at his country home but has now decided to donate half of it to the East Anglian Ambulance Fund and hand over the remainder to the Conservative Central Office which is collecting money from MPs to recompense taxpayers for the failed system of expenses and allowances.

Mr Gummer, Tory MP for Suffolk Coastal, has waited until the Commons elected its new Speaker before making his decision public.

“Now that we have selected a new Speaker and every candidate for the office publicly committed themselves to reform, I believe that it is right for every Member of Parliament, however scrupulously he has kept the rules and however low his overall claim, to take some part of the corporate blame for a system of allowances that has been shown to be so fundamentally flawed and yet which he did not adequately seek to reform,” Mr Gummer told the EADT last night.

“It is in that spirit that I have decided to forego the whole £23,000 of my Additional Costs Allowance for the last published year 2007/8. Half will go back to the taxpayer as part of the contribution of Conservative MPs and half will be donated to the East Anglian Air Ambulance.”

A former chairman of the Conservative Party and an MP for 34 years, Mr Gummer said: “In addition, I have decided that I shall make no claims for my home in Suffolk in 2009/10 until the independent report into MPs allowances is published and its outcome agreed.

“I shall decide then whether to claim in future and will announce my decision publicly.”

Mr Gummer said the repayment was nothing to do with guilt. “My overall claims for expenses rank among the very lowest in Parliament.”

His second home claims relate to his house at Winston near Debenham. When details of his claims were published, they included money for sweeping chimneys, eradicating moles from the lawns, getting rid of birds' nests, repairs to central heating, and for general maintenance.

He said his claims for 2008/9 had been sent to the Commons authorities and were in line with the new, more stringent guidance outlined by the Prime Minister. They will be published in October.

Earlier this week, Mr Gummer's expense claims showed that he billed taxpayers for £10,000 of expenses incurred by his environmental consultancy company Sancroft, including telecommunications and secretarial work which he said partly related to his constituency and parliamentary matters.

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