The incumbent Runnymede and Weybridge MP Philip Hammond has been criticised by one of his general election opponents, after he admitted he would continue claiming expenses for his second home in London until the rules are changed in 2012.

Mr Hammond, who is the Conservative’s Shadow Chief Treasury secretary, told the audience at a hustings in Chertsey on Friday, April 30, that, should he get re-elected to the safe Tory seat, he would still expect the taxpayer to cough up a maximum of £30,000 for the next two years.

His Liberal Democrat counterpart, Andrew Falconer, said although this would be within the rules, Mr Hammond was not making a “clean break” from last year’s MPs expenses scandal.

He said: “If the scandal taught us anything, it is staying within the rules isn’t good enough. We all thought we had left the expenses scandal behind us, but now we see Mr Hammond wants to return to the old politics by claiming for a second house.

“Many people living in Runnymede and Weybridge do not even earn in a year what Mr Hammond expects the taxpayer to top-up his salary with if he gets re-elected. I don’t mind if Mr Hammond has two homes, or 15 homes – but I do object to paying for them.”

Mr Hammond, who also has a family home in Send, Surrey, was criticised in April 2009, after it was revealed he had claimed £23,075, £8 off the maximum amount allowed, between 2007 and 2008 for his London property, when his constituency is only a 35 minute commute from the capital.

At the time, he told the Elmbridge Guardian he and his family had to commute every week to their home in London, where his children go to school, and return to Send for weekends, an arrangement he described as a “nightmare”.

This week, he said he had looked at the option of commuting to London from Send, but at the present time it still made more sense for him to stay in London during the week, when Parliament sits.

He said: “The reality is, I would struggle to do all the things required of me if I commuted. I will comply with the rules until the rules change.”

However, he also promised any money he made from his London property would go back to the public purse.