Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 12:44 UK

Speaker 'orders 20,000 refurb'

John Bercow
Mr Bercow is the youngest Speaker in modern times

John Bercow has ordered a £20,000 refurbishment of the Speaker's official grace-and-favour flat in the Palace of Westminster, it has been reported.

Items ordered by the new Speaker, elected after Michael Martin stepped down amid the expenses row, include a £6,764 sofa suite, the Telegraph said.

Some changes make the flat child-friendly, such as fitting window locks and turning a study into a playroom.

Mr Martin spent £724,600 of public money on the flat from 2000 to 2008.

Mr Bercow, who has three young children and at 46 is the youngest Commons Speaker in modern times, has previously noted it was a "fantastic apartment but it's not altogether child friendly".

Child friendly

The Telegraph reported it had seen the document detailing the changes to be made, including £6,764.30 on a new sofa suite, £760 on a window seat cushions, £3,600 on window locks, £90.95 on mattresses and sheets and £275 on eight lampshades.

Other costs include £3,880 on planters to make the terrace more child friendly and £1,087 on decorating a study to turn it into a playroom.

I have seen large damp patches on one of the ceilings for sure and when Michael Martin was there part of the ceiling fell down because it was damp
Mike Granatt
Former Speaker's adviser

The House of Commons in-house maintenance was also asked to check that the access to wall ducts was child proof.

A spokeswoman for the House of Commons said Mr Bercow was "happy that this information is in the public domain, that the public know how this money has been spent".

Mike Granatt, who was a spokesman for Mr Bercow's predecessor Michael Martin, told BBC Radio 5 Live the Speaker's contract required him to live in the flat and it was "not unreasonable that the place should be made safe for his kids".

He said the apartments consisted of two parts - the "grand state rooms" downstairs and the private apartment above which, he said, did need some redecoration.

"Some of the rooms I have been in ... certainly need refurbishment, I have seen large damp patches on one of the ceilings for sure and when Michael Martin was there part of the ceiling fell down because it was damp."

"You have to remember this is a listed building, it's a Grade I listed building - it's a Royal Palace. Any work that is done inside it generally has to be overseen to the standards of English Heritage."

He added that the hand-made wallpaper famously ordered by former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine for his apartment in the House of Lords - at a cost of £59,000 - had actually been a demand from English Heritage.

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