'Class warrior' MP says rules will leave him out of pocket

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A SCOTTISH MP who claimed almost £90,000 in second homes allowances over the past four years – only £30 below the maximum permitted – yesterday complained that the emergency rules being brought in to clean up parliament would leave him out of pocket.

Ian Davidson, the Labour MP for Glasgow South West, who is famed for his "class war" attacks on the rich, said he wished he had a larger mortgage on his London flat so he could claim more in allowances.

He claimed 87,699 in the four years to 2007-8 – only 30 below the 87,729 maximum permitted. His claims included 5,500 to have his London flat renovated by a handyman friend – whom he later took shooting at an annual Commons v Lords competition – and almost 1,500 on reclining furniture.

Furniture claims were this week banned as part of efforts to clean up the Commons.

Mr Davidson, who sits on the parliamentary committee in charge of exposing Whitehall inefficiencies, spoke out after MPs' mortgage interest claims were capped at 1,250 a month.

He said: "I think what we have probably done now is change the rules in a way that will advantage the rich classes. My mortgage is now 45 a month, but there are lots of Tories who have huge mortgages and they're obviously getting more out of it.

"I'm then left to pay every other cost out of my own income. I think that is unreasonable. If I had known that, I would have struck the balance differently between my mortgage and my other costs."

Mr Davidson defended his claims, saying he had obtained good value for the taxpayer by using a cheaper tradesman from Scotland, compared with quotes of 123 an hour for an emergency London plumber. He said he had gained prior permission from the Commons authorities to employ his friend and to take him to the shooting tournament.

Mr Davidson said his mortgage interest payments were so low because he had taken out only a 60 per cent mortgage, having invested a sizeable chunk of his own funds in the house purchase. He said furniture purchases totalling about 6,000 over four years also amounted to reasonable value.

Asked whether his shooting hobby fitted with his reputation as a class warrior, Mr Davidson joked: "Come the revolution, riflemen will be required."

He added: "I have been on the armed forces parliamentary scheme a couple of times, and have been shooting when I have been away with the Royal Marines, and I was quite good at it."

Jim Sheridan, chairman of the group of Scottish Labour MPs and a defender of outgoing Speaker, Michael Martin, was revealed to have rented a flat in Dolphin Square, a luxury block by the Thames. He has submitted a series of claims for furniture – including a 699 bill for a TV and 991 for a bed. He claimed about 3,400 every three months for his rent, but subsequently bought a flat, charging 924 in mortgage interest.

Mr Sheridan, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, yesterday attacked "racist" coverage of the Speaker's role in the expenses scandal.