Page last updated at 19:46 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 20:46 UK

DUP leader repays 755 for cases

Peter Robinson
The DUP leader's claim was approved

The DUP leader, Peter Robinson, has paid back £755 in parliamentary expenses claimed for a briefcase and computer case.

The DUP said he had bought "quality" items because they would be more robust and offer better value for money.

Mr Robinson said he had asked to be reimbursed only for the amount that would be paid for "standard" products.

However, the Commons authorities paid him the full amount and he has now paid back the whole claim.

A DUP spokesman said: "Peter was not required to make any repayment.

"He voluntarily decided to make the payment to the Fees Office in spite of the fact that it was in relation to a legitimate claim which had been approved."

The SDLP leader Mark Durkan has paid back £1,124 to cover an overpaid electricity bill on a flat in London.

"I've received repayment of monies that I had previously claimed for so I've passed that repayment on to the Fees Office and the taxpayer," he said.

In a statement, the SDLP said: "In respect of the concerns over 'redactions' or blackened-out details in the published expense forms, it should be made clear that Mr Durkan did not seek any of these."

The party said he also repaid a £200 'cashback' offer he received from his mobile phone provider, about £80 for two months' separate mobile phone bills submitted in error by his office and £302 "which covered most of the deductions from the deposit repaid on his former accommodation that were kept by the agent/landlord".

Overpaid

The DUP MP David Simpson has returned £1,482, which relates to his second home in London.

Mr Simpson's office said the repayment was due to a mistake by the Commons in paying him twice for a month's mortgage interest relief payment.

"I immediately took action to rectify this," he said.

"It was at my initiative that this error was brought to the attention of the Fees Office. I am extremely disappointed to have been put in this position as a result of how the Fees Office handled this matter."

Last month the Ulster Unionist MP Lady Hermon said she had already repaid £2,700 after being overpaid for rent.

The Northern Ireland Office minister, Paul Goggins, paid back almost £13,000.

Mr Goggins' repayment concerns an arrangement exposed by the Daily Telegraph where he allowed a friend to live rent-free in a home paid for by the taxpayer.

The paper said for the past three years Mr Goggins had designated the property as his second home and claimed almost £45,000 in expenses for it.

Paul Goggins hPaul Goggins
NIO minister Paul Goggins has made a large repayment

The paper claimed he did not tell the Commons Fees Office that he shared the house.

Mr Goggins said on Friday that his friend, Chris Bain, had retained a 25% share in the value of the property.

"Given that he is the part owner, Chris has every right to live at the property, and usually stays there three nights a week. He contributes to costs not claimed for but we have decided that he should have made a greater contribution to housing and other costs against which I claimed during 2006-08," he said.

"I have repaid £11,680 - representing half the costs of mortgage interest, council tax and utilities bills as well as a contribution to other claims made. Chris is now paying half of all the housing costs and so we have agreed that his share of the property will return to 50%.

"Quite separately and prior to all the recent publicity about expenses, I repaid in full a rebate I received from my electricity supplier for overpayments during 2004-2008. The amount was £1,995.95 which I passed on to the Fees Office."

One hundred and eighty two MPs have now repaid nearly £500,000 in expenses money since the revelations began in May.

Cabinet ministers have so far repaid £23,443 in total.

Gordon Brown has made four separate payments totalling about £800 either to correct "inadvertent errors" or for the "avoidance of doubt" on certain claims.

Fountain pen

Shadow Cabinet ministers have repaid £30,348.

The latest information on repayments was published hours after all MPs expenses claims for 2004-8 were finally released by Parliament, albeit with crucial details such as MPs addresses blacked out.

The publication showed that the DUP's Iris Robinson claimed for a £300 fountain pen.

In 2006, Mrs Robinson submitted a receipt for £352 - the printed receipt showed a £300 Montblanc pen, a £6 bottle of ink and £46 for perfume.

However, Mrs Robinson was not reimbursed for these items.

A DUP spokesman said the claim had been "submitted in error" by Mrs Robinson's office.

"The Fees Office was correct not to process these items," he added.

"Mrs Robinson has one of lowest expense claims of all the Northern Ireland MPs, as well as being in the lowest 15% of expense claims in the House of Commons."

Other MPs claimed for a range of items including Secretary of State Shaun Woodward, for 456 tins of Diet Coke.

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SEE ALSO
MPs pay back 500,000 in expenses
19 Jun 09 |  UK Politics
N Ireland MPs expenses published
18 Jun 09 |  Northern Ireland
MP submitted claim for 300 pen
18 Jun 09 |  Northern Ireland


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