Three MPs expected to repay expenses

AT least three MPs from across the region are expected to repay expenses following an audit of all Commons claims in the past five years.

Graham Dines

AT least three MPs from across the region are expected to repay expenses following an audit of all Commons claims in the past five years.

Although the expenses were passed as legitimate by parliamentary authorities, the MPs have been caught up in the ruling that all claims should be subject to a cap which is being imposed retrospectively to the 2005 general election.

With both Gordon Brown and David Cameron insisting that their members abide by the ruling, the MPs have agreed to write cheques for money now deemed to have been wrongly paid out.

Chelmsford West Conservative MP Simon Burns is to repay �513 over double claims for rent relating to two weeks in December 2004 and one week in April 2007.

“The audit came up with these errors and of course I accept that the money should be repaid,” said Mr Burns.

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Harwich Tory MP Douglas Carswell is to repay �149 for one month's double claim of council tax. He has also been asked to provide details on the deposit of a house he rented and also for details of his claims for cleaning.

“The expenses scandal has provoked such a public outcry that it would be wrong not repay money which Sir Thomas Legg believes should be.

“It's been a big problem for parliament. The expenses system must be fixed, and the only way to fix it is to confront the problem head-on and for repayments to be made.”

Essex North Tory MP Bernard Jenkin declined to give details of his correspondence from Sir Thomas. “I have received my letter. I have been asked to make further representations. I will of course repay whatever Sir Thomas finally recommends.”

John Whittingdale, Tory MP Maldon and East Chelmsford Tory MP, said that he had received a letter asking him to pay back around �1,000, but he had already repaid it. “It raised a particular claim relating to the legal fees associated with the freehold purchase of my London flat.

“The Conservative Party had already had its own review of claims a few months ago, and had said that although this was within the rules, in the current climate it would be better to repay the money. That is what I did.”

MPs who have been told that they are in the clear include Brooks Newmark (Con, Braintree), Richard Spring (Con, West Suffolk), David Ruffley (Con, Bury St Edmunds), Tim Yeo (Con, Suffolk South), Chris Mole, (Labour, Ipswich), and Bob Russell (Liberal Democrat, Colchester).

Mr Spring said: “A process has been approved and if MPs are asked to repay sums of money, they must do so for the sake of parliament's reputation.”

The EADT has not been able to contact either Sir Michael Lord (Con, Central Suffolk & Ipswich North) or John Gummer (Con, Suffolk Coastal).

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