MPs' expenses: It's the bailiffs – call the taxpayer!

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Cherie Blair's claim that moving to Downing Street played havoc with her household budget was borne out on Friday, when it emerged that the former prime minister and his wife were threatened with the bailiffs over an unpaid water bill.

Northumbrian Water's threat over the £147 outstanding was the most dramatic revelation contained in the 450-plus pages of expenses claims finally disclosed under freedom of information legislation.

Taxpayers who have accepted that MPs' office costs have to be subsidised might be less convinced of the need to pay £190 for rebuilding a rockery in Margaret Beckett's garden, or £1,600 for cleaning the windows at the home of Stevenage MP Barbara Follett in a single year. The Blairs also claimed £10,000 for refurbishing their kitchen.

However, the Administration Committee is planning a further legal case to ensure that personal details are blacked out from all released information.

Andrew Walker, director of resources at the House of Commons, was given a rough ride during a private appearance before the committee last week. MPs were furious with his admission that he had taken no security advice on the issue of disclosing addresses.