Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 17:26 UK

MP criticises listing of expenses

Anthony Steen MP
Anthony Steen said he did not know "what the fuss is about"

A Devon MP standing down at the next election after a row about his expenses says the public should not have been allowed to see what he claimed.

Totnes Conservative MP Anthony Steen was alleged by the Daily Telegraph to have claimed more than £87,000 over four years for his country home.

Mr Steen said the public had no right to interfere with his private life.

He insisted his behaviour had been "impeccable" and that all his claims had been transparent.

Former barrister Mr Steen, 69, claimed ministers had "mucked up the system" by introducing the Freedom of Information Act.

He also suggested his critics were "jealous" because he lived in a large house that resembled Royal residence Balmoral, and had trees in the grounds that needed lopping.

He said: "As far as I am concerned, and as of this day, I don't know what the fuss is about," he told Radio 4's The World at One.

"We have a wretched government here which has completely mucked up the system and caused the resignation of me and many others, because it was this government that introduced the Freedom of Information Act, and it is this government that insisted on the things which caught me on the wrong foot.

"What right does the public have to interfere with my private life? None."

Steen house
Mr Steen claimed for work on his constituency home

Mr Steen has been an MP in south Devon since 1983, first for South Hams and then for Totnes when the seat was created in 1997.

He Steen designated his constituency property as his second home and then claimed £87,729 over four years, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The paper said leaked details showed £597.14 was claimed for lights, £120 was claimed for fencing, a £459 visit by a woodland consultant who looked into protection from rabbits, and £1,755.89 for fixing the water supply from the spring and borehole.

Scaffolding hire for chimney repairs and outside decoration, repairing a stone wall, sowing grass and "removing boulders" were also claimed for.

Meanwhile, two other Devon MPs have published details of their expenses on their websites.

Conservative Devon South West MP Gary Streeter has published details of his second home expenses.

Mr Streeter said his constituency home expenses were all claimed "within the letter and spirit of the rules".

Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Devonport, said she had revealed some of her claims because she knew people in her constituency were "angry and confused".

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