UK Politics

Nick Clegg defends right to claim expenses for energy bills

Nick Clegg
Image caption Mr Clegg defended MPs' right to claim back utility costs for their second homes

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said he has "no embarrassment" about claiming back the cost of energy bills on his second home.

Mr Clegg said expenses are there to help MPs with the cost of living and working in two different places.

The Lib Dem leader, who rents a second home in his Sheffield constituency, declined to reveal how much bills are in his London home, on LBC radio.

He also admitted the recession has not affected his family as much as others.

"Both [my wife] Miriam and I work in well-paid jobs so clearly we're not in the same position as many people who feel under greater considerable pressure," he said.

The Liberal Democrat leader defended MPs' rights to claim back utility costs for their second home, as he appeared on his weekly LBC radio phone-in.

Rising bills

The government has come under increasing pressure to help people facing higher gas and electricity bills, with Labour calling for a 20-month price freeze.

MPs have been criticised for claiming expenses to cover the cost of heating their second homes.

LBC radio show host Nick Ferrari said it had been reported Mr Clegg claimed £254.29 for electricity and gas in his constituency home in Sheffield.

Mr Clegg said: "I think most people would understand that if you are living and working in two different places and you are giving allowances to cover the costs in one of those places that also covers your utility bills.

"And I am totally open about what those bills are and I've got no embarrassment in explaining that to you."

Mr Clegg repeatedly refused to reveal the cost of utility bills in his private home, telling Mr Ferrari: "I'm not going to go into my personal bills."

He said MPs are no longer "judge and jury" on their expenses as in the past, with the system independently overseen by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

To remove that financial support for MPs, the deputy PM argued, would turn the clock back 150 years by turning politics into a hobby for the landed gentry.

Mr Clegg later revealed that he was a "keen buyer" of undergarments from Marks and Spencer, but dismissed the idea that his wife buys them for him as "old-fashioned".

However, he did not answer correctly how much a standard pack of three men's boxers costs. Mr Clegg guessed at £10, but the answer provided was in fact £8.