MPs' expenses: a £5 church donation and a pink laptop

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Indy Politics

Eleanor Laing The Conservative Shadow justice minister may have to pay the capital gains tax she avoided by telling Inland Revenue that her main home was in London, after identifying her constituency home as her main residence for the Commons Fees Office.

She sold two adjacent London flats for a profit of at least £1m, according to the Daily Telegraph, but avoided £180,000 in capital gains because it was her main home for tax purposes. She also claimed £80,000 in allowances by telling the fees office it was her second home. Ms Laing said: "Although I had always regarded the flat as my second home, my main home being in my constituency, the definition of 'principal private residence' for capital gains tax purposes is not a matter of choice but a matter of fact," she said.

"As a matter of fact, under the rules, the London flat was my principal private residence." But Mr Cameron insisted yesterday: "If you are getting money for something as a second home, you can't then claim it's your first home for tax purposes, so that case will be dealt with, you'll see a result and it will be very clear for everyone to see."

Frank Cook The backbench Labour MP has apologised for apparently trying to claim back a £5 donation he made during a church service to commemorate the Battle of Britain. Mr Cook sought the reimbursement after a memorial service at his constituency in Stockton-on-Tees, however, it was turned down by the fees office.

"I don't know how it happened, it is wrong that it happened, I can't explain it and I am sorry that it has happened. I can't give any better explanation because I don't have one. I am not going to turn round and blame some member of staff. I am responsible. That's it. I can't explain it. I'm sorry. I'm pleased that it wasn't (paid) because nor should it have been," he told Sky News.

Bill Cash The Tory MP criticised for claiming more than £15,000 in rent paid to his daughter has pledged that he will not claim any more allowances until the independent watchdog Sir Christopher Kelly has completed his review of the expenses system.

Charles Kennedy The former Liberal Democrat leader said yesterday that his claim for £14.90 for three tins of mints and two teddy bears bought from the House of Commons shop had been a mistake. "When this error was picked up upon receipt of these invoices both were repaid by me on 11 May this year." Mr Kennedy also attempted to use his office costs allowance for Remembrance Sunday poppy wreaths. He successfully claimed £18 in November 2006 but his attempt to claim £49 a year later was rejected.

Tim Yeo, a former Tory minister, defended his claim for £906 for a pink laptop, submitted a month before Christmas 2007, saying: "A laptop is a laptop whatever colour it is and this is a trivial point."

Lord Clarke of Hampstead

The 77-year-old Labour peer and former trade union official has confessed that he had fiddled expenses claims to make up for the fact that peers are unpaid. He said that he repeatedly claimed an overnight expenses allowance when he had stayed in London with friends at no cost.

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