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article imageBritish Members of Parliament accused of abusing expense claims

By Julian Worker     May 19, 2009 in Politics
A leak to The Daily Telegraph newspaper about the expenses of British MPs has caused consternation amongst the public. The first casualty is expected to be The Speaker of The House of Commons, Michael Martin, who didn't condemn the abuse of expenses.
The British taxpayer is picking up the bill for the lavish lifestyle of certain Members of Parliament in the British House of Commons.
The allegations have been leaked to The Daily Telegraph and they concern members from both the Labour and Conservative parties. The expense claims have caused disgust amongst the British public who are suffering the consequences of the credit crunch while some of their elected representatives have been caught with their snouts in the expenses trough.
What has especially sickened the public is that Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, seems more concerned with catching the person who leaked the news of the expenses abuse, rather than doing something substantial about the abuse of expenses. On May 19, a motion of no confidence in the Speaker will be formally published on the Commons agenda. It has been signed by 18 backbenchers and others are expected to back it if he refuses to resign. Michael Martin would then be forced out of office, the first such Speaker since 1695, when Sir John Trevor was removed for taking a £1,000 bribe.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid his brother, Andrew Brown, £6,577 over 26 months for cleaning services at the PM’s flat in Westminster. Andrew Brown is a senior executive at EDF Energy and the two brothers share a cleaner for their London homes.
Many MPs were accused of flipping their designated ‘second homes’ so that they could claim on multiple homes. Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary in the government, claimed three different properties as her second home in a single year. Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs select committee, claimed £75,000 for buying and furnishing a flat in central London at taxpayers’ expense despite living just 12 miles away in a million pound property. Margaret Moran, the Labour MP for Luton, spent £22,500 on treating dry rot in a seaside property that was 100 miles from her constituency and that was further away from London than her constituency property.
The opposition Conservative party has also had a few embarrassments. David Willetts, the shadow universities secretary, claimed more than £100 for workmen to replace 25 light bulbs at his home. Oliver Letwin, the chairman of the Conservatives’ policy team, claimed more than £2,000 to replace a leaking pipe under a tennis court. Alan Duncan, the shadow leader of the House of Commons, who oversees the Conservative party’s expenses policy, was himself warned over attempted expenses for his gardening bills, for which he was trying to claim more than £7,000 over two years. Cheryl Gillan, the shadow Welsh secretary, claimed for dog food on her expenses. In perhaps the most appropriate claim of all, David Heathcoat-Amory claimed more than £380 for manure for his garden.
Another humiliation facing Gordon Brown is that the man charged with investigating allegations that Labour MPs abused the system of Commons expenses, Nick Brown, appears to have abused the system himself. The Government Chief Whip was accused of claiming £18,800 over four years in unreceipted expenses for food consumed at his designated second home in Newcastle. It’s believed that Nick Brown claimed a total of £87,708 on his second home between 2004 and 2008.
More about British mps, Expenses, Houses parliament, Speaker, Gordon brown
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