Shadow DEFRA minister caught in expenses row

Shadow DEFRA secretary Nick Herbert has defended expense claims he made to cover the cost of fees when he bought a house.

Mr Herbert claimed more than £10,000 for stamp duty and property surveys when he and his partner bought a home in his constituency in 2006.

In it’s investigation into MPs’ expenses, the Telegraph newspaper reported Mr Herbert and his partner, Jason Eades, paid £490,000 for their house in Arundel, West Sussex.

The minister claimed back the property’s stamp duty, as well as hundreds of pounds for fees and surveys.

Since buying the house, Mr Herbert has claimed £22,720 a year to cover the monthly interest charges on the house’s mortgage, even though his partner is also named on the property’s deeds.

He also shares a London flat with Mr Eades.

Mr Herbert said he had claimed for some of the costs of a second home in accordance with parliamentary rules.

Those rules treated partners and civil partners in the same way as spouses, he added.

DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn appears to be one of a minority of MPs who has not been dragged into the scandal over expenses.

Mr Benn reported claimed just £147.78 a year for food, despite being able to claim £400 a month.

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