Here is the full text of the statement from Sir Nicholas and Lady Winterton on their use of Commons expenses:
We would like to respond briefly to the articles in the Mail on Sunday and other media covering the flat we use in London.
Like any other employment which requires people to work away from home, living expenses can be reclaimed from Parliament up to a prescribed limit.
In the late 1990s, we took advice from our solicitor and accountants about our likely inheritance tax liability, as so many families do.
As a result of the advice given to us, we paid off the mortgage on the flat with the proceeds of a small legacy and an insurance policy which had just matured.
We were further advised to put the flat into a Trust for which there are three Trustees (our solicitor and ourselves) who administer the Trust on behalf of the beneficiaries.
We no longer own the flat and in order to meet the objectives and terms of the Trust, we are obliged to pay the full market rent which is recommended by an independent valuer/estate agent.
The current rent is not £30,000 per annum as stated in the press articles but is in fact £21,600 per annum.
Before we proceeded, the arrangement was agreed by the Fees Office and we clearly would not have gone ahead unless this had been the case.
If we did not use our present accommodation, we would have to rent or buy other accommodation (for which legitimate expenses could be claimed as now) and there is, therefore, no additional cost to the taxpayer from the present arrangement.
More often than not we travel together by car off peak saving both on mileage allowance and very substantially on the high cost of rail travel.
It is also a fact that we are both in the lowest quartile as
far as Parliamentary expenses are concerned and we seek to use the allowances available as prudently and responsibly as possible.