(2009) Conservative M.P. James Arbuthnot -PARASITE

James Arbuthnot MP claimed from the public finances for cleaning his swimming pool at a country residence.

The claims by James Arbuthnot were among a series of payments made to maintain a home in Hampshire that he rented before buying a £2 million home without a mortgage two years ago.

Last night, the chairman of the defence select committee said that claiming for the swimming pool maintenance was an error of judgment and that he would return the money.

He was unable to calculate the sum he would repay the fees office. One handwritten invoice for a three-month period, for “grass, strim, pool, fuel” came to £776. Another bill for two months came to £594. The bill for the whole of the 2006-07 financial year for these services was £1,471.

In a letter to the fees office, Mr Arbuthnot acknowledged that his new house was unusually costly to run. He was “well aware” that he quickly spent the additional costs allowance, he wrote, but that was because “[his home] is an expensive house to run”. In June 2007, it took four hours to mow the “main lawn and swimming pool lawn” at a cost of £44.

Email exchanges between the MP and the fees office at this time illustrate the laxity of the fees office in enforcing the rules. Mr Arbuthnot rented a house in a village in Hampshire.

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