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Barking MP dragged into expenses scandal

PUBLISHED: 13:15 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:04 11 August 2010

MP MARGARET Hodge has been dragged into the expenses row, after it was claimed she is using taxpayers cash to fund the Barking Labour Party. A London newspaper claims the Barking MP has let her constituency party use half of the two-storey building she

MP MARGARET Hodge has been dragged into the expenses row, after it was claimed she is using taxpayers' cash to fund the Barking Labour Party.

A London newspaper claims the Barking MP has let her constituency party use half of the two-storey building she rents in North Street as their head quarters.

According to the paper, Ms Hodge used public funds to rent and equip the property. The first floor is used as her office, for which the allowance was designed, but the article says the ground floor has become the head quarters of the Barking Labour Party.

The Commons rules states that no payment under the allowances may "provide a benefit to a party political organisation" and MPs "must not sublet accommodation which [they] lease and pay for out of the allowances".

In response to the attack Ms Hodge told the POST "Barking Labour Party uses the office occasionally for meetings and they pay me for that use under an arrangement that was agreed with the House authorities."

"Any leaflets produced will only have the 102 North Street address to help my constituents get in touch with me. The constituency office is used for constituency purposes and is one of the busiest in the country."

She added: "I do not claim any additional costs for a second home of for food, repairs or furniture (although I could under the rules) and I do not personally benefit from any of my expenses."

Another newspaper has also said this week that Ms Hodge claimed £2,200 for "PR support" from a PR firm between May and August 2007.

In response to this claim she said: "I have one of the busiest MP's offices and we respond to over 100 new cases every week. Because of this high constituency workload I do not - like others - employ a researcher to help with speeches, articles and reports."

"I use outside people as and when needed and that is why I paid. They helped me with important speeches, articles and reports."

The rules do, however, allow for "occasional use" by other organisations, which "must not exceed 20 days per year." They state that a charge for this use must be set at a level which reflects a proportion of the leasing costs and any services used.

Any money received must then go back into the public purse.

According to the newspaper, Ms Hodge's secretary, Mike Haywood, the Labour Party pay £10 a go


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