What can MPs claim for?

So they can claim £750 for a television and various amounts for stuff like furniture such as massage chairs, but they can't claim for personal items like electric shavers? It all seems a bit confusing, doesn't it? Shahid Malik thinks so - he says that simple misuderstanding is the reason behind his own dodgy claims.

Basically, every MP of a constituency outside inner London is permitted to claim for a second home closer to Parliament so that they are able to attend sittings regularly. Their first home, which is defined as the one at which they spend most time, is their own business for which they are responsible. However, they can claim all sorts of allowances to cover the cost of maintaining and furnishing the second home - which is where the current problems stem from because, being politicians, many of them have worked out sorts of devious little ways in which they can use these allowances to improve their own lifestyles and let us, the tax-payers, foot the bill.

When they take up a second home, the MP is allowed to spend designated amounts on various items included on the Additional Costs Claims Guide, popularly known as the John Lewis List after the famous department store which specialises in selling everything one could ever need when setting up a home, up to an annual total of £23,000. Here's the full list with the maximum amount allowed for each item:

Air conditioning unit - £299.99
Bed - £1000.00
Bedside Cabinet - £100.00
Bookcase/shelf - £200.00
Bookcase/cabinet - £500.00
Carpet - £35.00 per square metre
Carpet fitting - £6.50 per square metre
Coffee maker/machine - £100.00
Coffee table - £250.00
Dining armchairs (each) - £150.00
Dining chairs (each) - £90.00
Dining table - £600.00
Dishwasher - £375.00
Drawer chest (five) - £500.00
Dressing table - £500.00
Dry cleaning - personal and household dry cleaning are permitted so long as they fall within a "resonable cost"
Food mixer - £200.00
Freestanding mirror - £300.00
Fridge/freezer combination - £550.00
Gas cooker - £650.00
Hi-fi/stereo - £750.00
Installation of new bathroom - £6,335.00
Installation of new kitchen - £10,000.00
Lamp table - £200.00
Nest of tables - £200.00
Recordable DVD - £270.00
Rugs (each) - £300.00
Shredder - £50.00
Sideboard - £795.00
Suite of furniture - £2,000.00
Television set - £750.00 (seems quite clear to me, Mr. Malik)
Tumble dryer - £250.00
Underlay (basic) - £6.99 per square metre
Wardrobe - £700.00
Washer dryer combination - £500.00
Washing machine - £350.00
Wooden flooring/carpets - £35.00 per square metre
Workstation - £150.00

Not bad, eh? Mrs. Rabbi and myself could've done quite nicely with that when we set up our own home. How about you?

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