MP Peter Bone will not face any further action over a complaint over his Parliamentary expenses.
A report published by the Committee on Standards today (Thursday, September 11) said the MP for Wellingborough and Rushden had made claims after sharing a property with his father in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, soon after he was first elected in 2005.
Parliamentary rules said MPs could not make claims on a property which was neither within 20 miles of his constituency nor of the Westminster, although at that time there was no rule against renting from a family member.
The complaint dates back to 2005 and was referred to the standards commissioner by Northamptonshire Police.
In its report, the committee found that Mr Bone had given little thought to practical arrangements over London accommodation should he be elected in 2005, due to there being “no certainty” of him winning the Wellingborough and Rushden seat.
At that election, he defeated Labour’s Paul Stinchcombe by just 687 votes, or 1.3 percentage points.
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Hudson said: “Mr Bone was elected by a relatively small margin and perhaps prudently will not have committed himself to any arrangements in advance of the election.”
After being elected, he decided to use his father’s property in Westcliff-on-Sea as a second home on a temporary basis.
He said that arrangement, in place for less than two months, would be more cost-effective than claiming for hotel rents while working in Westminster.
Mr Bone paid £980 a month for the rent of the Westcliff-on-Sea property, and claimed two months’ rent on expenses, as well as a number of bills.
The arrangement was also agreed by Parliament’s Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), which concluded that the Westcliff-on-Sea property could be deemed a London property for the purposes of expenses payments.
Today, Mr Bone said: “There was nothing wrong with my expenses, as I said all along. It’s good now it’s public knowledge that I’ve done nothing wrong.”
The committee’s report concluded: “Although the rules at the time did not allow Mr Bone to make claims on a property which was neither within 20 miles of his constituency nor of the Palace of Westminster, we note that the Commissioner found that “there was no attempt to conceal in any way the location of the property [and there is] no evidence that Mr Bone has made any personal gain through that breach. This provides significant mitigation.
“In 2005 Mr Bone was a new and inexperienced Member; the DFA was the source of authority, and he had no reason to challenge its advice.
“We recommend no further action.”