Hodge PR expenses scrutinised
John Phillips MARGARET Hodge has been caught up in the expenses row after claiming thousands of pounds for PR services and letting her taxpayer-funded office to Barking Labour Party. The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that the Labour MP for Barking had claimed mor
MARGARET Hodge has been caught up in the expenses row after claiming thousands of pounds for PR services and letting her taxpayer-funded office to Barking Labour Party.
The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that the Labour MP for Barking had claimed more than �2,200 for work contracted to an Essex public relations firm between May-August 2007, though Commons' rules say parliamentarians cannot use expenses for "self promotion or PR".
But she defended the claim saying it was not for PR but to help her write "important speeches, articles and reports", after she came under criticism for letting part of her expenses-funded office in North Street, Barking, to Barking Labour Party for around �200 a year.
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She said the Commons had agreed the constituency Labour Party should pay for the "occasional use" of the North Street office and stressed she did not - unlike other MPs - claim the �23,083 second home allowance, now set to be reformed following to the scandal.
Mrs Hodge said: "All my parliamentary staff work is done from my constituency office at North Street, so, unlike other MPs, I do not benefit from the free photocopying and telephone calls available in Parliament.
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"I have one of the busiest MP's offices and we respond to more than 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.