MPs should not claim for gardening expenses, says Brian Donohoe

All-Party Parliamentary Gardening & Horticulture Group secretary Brian Donohoe MP has said MPs should not receive any allowance for gardening expenses.

MPs have been hit by the Legg inquiry, which has demanded that many pay back illegitimately claimed expenses that caused a public scandal this year. Legg says claims should be capped at £1,000 a year for gardening.

Donohoe said: "I've always paid my own gardener once a week for four hours. I don't believe that anyone should be paid for buying dung - one MP claimed for 30 tonnes.

"That brings the reputation of the House down. But what people don't talk about is that a lot of claims were rejected by the fees office. Only when an MP is handicapped could it be argued they should have expenses and they would need a really good reason for it. But in London flats on the fourth floor of a high-rise, I don't see much gardening going on there.

"If members are going to have a garden and they need extra work on it they should shell out from their own purse."

Gardening expenses claimants include: Sir Peter Viggers (Conservative, Gosport) - £30,000 over five years for mowing, maintenance, lights and a duck house; Sir Michael Lord (Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) - £8,000 over five years for tree work and grass cutting; Sir Alan Haselhurst (Conservative, Saffron Walden) - repaid £12,000 including claims for £249 a month for gardening; Alan Meale (Labour, Mansfield) - £13,000 for gardening over four years.

- Defra secretary of state Hilary Benn is due to speak at the All-Party Parliamentary Gardening & Horticulture Group's annual reception on 23 November.

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