Page last updated at 21:28 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Moat MP Douglas Hogg calls for higher MP salaries

Tim Iredale
Political Editor, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Douglas Hogg MP

Douglas Hogg MP is stepping down at the next general election

The MP whose moat became a symbol of the expenses scandal has spoken of his "distress" over the affair.

Douglas Hogg, who owns a country estate in his Lincolnshire constituency, is also calling for MPs to receive a large pay rise.

In his first interview since the scandal broke, the veteran Conservative MP has denied that he even has a moat.

He told the Politics Show for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire that his claim was to clean out a drainage ditch.

'Not positively excluded'

The Conservative MP, whose main home is in London, paid back more than £20,000 after the independent investigation into MPs' expenses ruled he had overcharged for gardening and maintenance at his Lincolnshire mansion.

He had already voluntarily repaid £2,200 - the cost of clearing the moat.

I have been criticised for things I should not have been criticised for
Douglas Hogg MP

At the time Mr Hogg, who is also a barrister and QC, said the claim had "not been positively excluded" when he submitted it to officials at the House of Commons fees office.

"I was only cleaning what is a broad dyke which becomes smelly and runs the risk of flooding," he said.

"I have been very distressed... I do believe I have been completely transparent.

"I have been criticised for things I should not have been criticised for.

"It's just absurd, but I am also deeply distressed for the House of Commons, because on the whole, I think the House of Commons comprises honourable people."

Empty house

Mr Hogg has now decided to pull up the drawbridge on his 31-year career as an MP. He will not be standing for re-election to his Sleaford and North Hykeham seat at the General Election.

He refused to accept he had done anything wrong and explained that his expenses claims did not cover the full costs of his Lincolnshire mansion which included the wages of a full-time housekeeper.

"The cost of running my Lincolnshire property greatly exceeds my then allowances," he said.

"We mostly were in London during the week and I didn't like to leave a wholly empty house so we did have a housekeeper and I agreed a proportion of her salary - actually 65%."

He explained that as his costs were so high he had asked the fees office to give him the maximum annual allowance for maintaining a second home to be paid monthly in 12 equal amounts.

Mr Hogg went on to say an MP's annual salary of £65,000 was far too low.

He said he wanted it increased by about 50% to attract people of the right calibre into politics. He suggested that MPs should not be worse off than GPs, dentists or low-level judges.

He said: "I am not for a moment suggesting that you should be paying truly fancy salaries, but I am saying that you shouldn't set yourself at a level which positively deters the professional business classes and currently it does."

The Politics Show broadcasts at 1200 GMT on BBC One and for seven days after on the BBC iPlayer.



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SEE ALSO
Hogg steps down in expenses row
19 May 09 |  England
Moat claim MP to quit at election
19 May 09 |  UK Politics
Hogg hits back over moat claim
12 May 09 |  UK Politics

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