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Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 18:31 UK
MPs vote to keep second home perks
By Rajini Vaidyanathan
Newsbeat politics reporter

Ten thousand pounds for a new kitchen, 750 on a stereo. Just a couple of the things your MP can claim at the taxpayers expense to kit out a second home. Despite calls for the controversial system to go, they've voted to keep it. Our politics reporter Rajini Vaidyanathan explains more about the issue of MPs expenses.

John Lewis store

We've had a run of stories about the way MPs spend public money.

There was the one who paid his son to do very little work, the other who paid more than 1,000 on window cleaning.

All this led to a review into the way their expenses are handled.

Because Parliament's in London MPs need a base near Westminster as well as in their constituency.

So, MPs with seats outside London get an allowance of up to 24,000 a year to fund a second home.

As well as getting rent, bills and food taken care of MPs are allowed to claim for home furnishings.

John Lewis list items
New kitchen - 10,000
Three-piece suite - 2,000
Television - 750
Air conditioning unit - 299.99
Lamp - 200
The guide to what they can spend kitting it out is known as the "John Lewis list".

It's called that because prices from the store are used as a guide.

It sets out the maximums MPs can claim on certain household goods to kit out their second homes.

When the list became public it sparked much criticism.

The report from the parliamentary committee looking into expenses even suggested that one option would be to scrap it.

But MPs have voted to keep the list.

The vast majority of those who wanted it to stay were Labour MPs, including several Ministers.

Gordon Brown didn't make it to the vote but said he's disappointed with the outcome.

Those backing a change say that keeping the list will damage people's trust in politicians.

As well as expenses, MPs also voted on their pay.

They decided not to award themselves huge pay rises.

A basic MP's wage stands at around 61,000 a year.

It'll go up to just over 63,000 - a below inflation rise.



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