Dec 23 2009 by Richard Mooney, Airdrie & Coatbridge
AIRDRIE MP John Reid’s expenses were under the spotlight again this week after it was revealed he over-claimed his council tax for his second home in South Lanarkshire.
The former Home Secretary was ordered to pay back £106.30 in March of this year by the House of Commons after a claims officer found the error in the Celtic chairman’s allowances.
Dr Reid had claimed for 11 months’ council tax at £1243, instead of 10. In an e-mail to Dr Reid a claims officer wrote: “With reference to your claim of £113.00 in respect of Council Tax, according to our records you have made eleven claims of £113.00 for reimbursement of Council Tax. The annual Council Tax bill amounts to £1136.70, therefore you have overclaimed by £106.30.”
Dr Reid’s original claim for £1243 was reduced and the £106.30 was paid back.
John Reid admitted his error to our reporter. He said: “This was a regular payment that should have been entered automatically every month for 10 months. When it was discovered that it had been entered in error for an 11th month it was immediately repaid.”
He also claimed for rent and mortgage at the same time when the rent due on the final month of his flat ran into the same month as his new property.
The Fee Office explained that Dr Reid was “obligated to honour” his agreement for 12 months’ rent. He also paid back £54.34 to the taxpayer last December after overclaiming in his electricity bills.
Last April, Dr Reid claimed allowances for a 32-inch Phillips LCD television at £549. He later exchanged the TV for another model at the same price and managed to negotiate a free Serano TV stand worth £79.99.
In the same month, Dr Reid spent £1477 on new furniture in DFS. This included one £899 sofa bed, one chair at £379 and a pouffe at £199, complete with advice to “plump cushions daily”.
The Airdrie and Shotts MP also claimed for £274.78 in Argos on a Dyson DC24 Vacuum cleaner, two key fobs at £50, a £29.97 lightgaurd, a £14.99 toilet Atlanta Toilet Roll Holder and a £20 Celmac Sonata toilet seat.
John Reid has been reimbursed courtesy of the taxpayer for items such as a £1.50 bar tip, a £139.99 Sony Ericsson Z200 mobile phone, a £89.99 Goodmans microwave oven, a £119.99 Beko fridge, £1.36 for tobacco, £50 in top-up vouchers, an £89 Pure Evoke digital radio, three gift bags at £2.70, £17.99 for Coffret Guanaja chocolates, a £24.99 Matsui set top box, a £7.99 JVC SCART cable, £3.60 for women’s fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, £599.99 for a Panasonic LCD television and £1.50 for a copy of Private Eye.
He also spent nearly £9000 refurbishing his home, £29.99 of which was spent on a black glittery toilet seat.
As of March 2008, the former Cabinet Minister has claimed for a total of £881,579 in Parliamentary allowances since 2001. This includes staffing, office and his additional costs allowance (second home).