Gay MPs rush to pay back expenses
MPs are being forced to pay back expenses after public outcry.
Last night, David Cameron said that any Tory MP who refused to pay back questionable expenses claims would face suspension from the party.
In a press conference, he revealed personally that he would be repaying £680 for maintenance on his home in Oxfordshire.
Openly gay MP and Shadow Leader of the Commons Alan Duncan promised last night he would pay back the £4,000 he claimed on expenses for gardening.
Other Tory MPs forced to pay back expenses include shadow schools secretary Michael Gove, who claimed £7,000 for designer furniture, policy chief Oliver Letwin, who claimed £2,000 for repairing a leak under his tennis court and shadow Chancellor George Osbourne, who claimed £440 for a taxi after missing a train.
Mr Cameron added he was setting up a new anti-sleaze panel and that expenses would have to be repaid if the public thought them lavish or suspect, regardless of whether claims passed the Commons fees office.
He said: “People are right to be angry that some MPs have taken public money to pay for things that, frankly, few can afford. You have been let down. Politicians have done things that are unethical and wrong. I don’t care if they were within the rules, they were wrong.”
Gordon Brown announced last night that all MPs from all three parties who had claimed expenses in the last four years would have their receipts scrutinised by an independent panel.
Communities secretary Hazel Blears is to pay back £13,332 of capital gains tax she avoided paying on the sale on her second home, while Margaret Moran, Labour MP for Luton South is to repay £22,500 for treating dry rot at her house in Southampton. Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth Valley will repay £6,200 claimed for furnishing a second home.
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Openly gay MP Ben Bradshaw will not be paying back his claims, his spokesman said this morning. Mr Bradshaw claimed for the full mortgage of a home he jointly owned with his civil partner.
In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk on Monday, he claimed the Daily Telegraph had been “homophobic” in the way it reported his expenses, saying he had been in the same circumstances as David Cameron, who had not come under fire over his mortgage payments.
In reform proposals submitted by the government to the Commons Committee on Members’ Allowances last night, MPs will no longer be allowed to switch their designated first and second homes to maximise their payments. They will normally be allowed only one change in a five-year parliament.
MPs will also no longer be able to use their “second homes” allowance to buy furniture, white goods and fittings, while the committee will consider a cap on mortgage interest payments.
Under David Cameron’s proposals, claims for barbecues, bath plugs and patio heaters would no longer be allowed.
He has said Tory MPs will only be allowed to claim for rent, mortgage interest, hotel bills, utility bills, service charges and council tax under the second homes allowance. All claims will be published online and there will be a ban on “flipping” between designated first and second homes.