views

Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg told to repay excessive expenses claims

GORDON Brown was yesterday told to hand back over &pound;12,400 in parliamentary expenses after making excessive claims for cleaning, gardening and decorating. <br /><br />Downing Street confirmed that Sir Thomas Legg, who is auditing MPs&rsquo; claims, had written to Brown ordering him to return &pound;12,415. <br /><br />Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was also censured by Legg for claiming too much for gardening and will repay &pound;910. <br /><br />And David Cameron, the Tory leader, has been asked to answer questions regarding his own expenses. <br /><br />The Prime Minister is repaying around &pound;10,700 relating to cleaning claims and &pound;300 in relation to claims for gardening. <br /><br />Although both of Brown&rsquo;s claims were within the rules at the time, Legg has decided to set new retrospective limits &ndash; including a &pound;1,000 annual cap on gardening claims.<br /><br />Brown is also repaying around &pound;1,400 because he claimed for a painting and decorating bill twice. <br /><br />The amount the Prime Minister is handing back is more than expected, proving that Legg has taken a hard line in his inquiry into MP&rsquo;s expenses. <br /><br />Although the results of the investigations into leaders&rsquo; expenses were made public first, Legg has written to all MPs. <br /><br />Many are angry that the former civil servant has ordered them to repay claims that were within the rules at the time. <br /><br />But in a letter sent to all ministers yesterday, Brown said he wanted them to follow his example and comply with Legg&rsquo;s requests. <br /><br />&ldquo;Our actions will mean the discredited regime is completely replaced and that we prevent the problems of the past from happening again,&rdquo; the Prime Minister wrote. <br /><br />MPs in the Labour party are said to be furious at Brown over his handling of Legg&rsquo;s inquiry. <br /><br />One backbencher said: &ldquo;The mood at Westminster is dire. Gordon addressed Labour MPs at the first meeting on coming back and, over the Legg enquiry, lost the Parliamentary Labour Party once again.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;Gordon knew that Legg had made up his own rules about what was permissible, retrospectively changing the goal posts. All MPs had seen were leaks to newspapers and they were furious with him.&rdquo;<br /><br />Meanwhile, Tory leader David Cameron has been asked to provide Legg with documentation regarding a &pound;218 mortgage claim that he has already repaid. <br /><br />And former home secretary Jacqui Smith was forced to make an embarrassing apology in the House of Commons for using the second home allowance to pay for her family home.<br /><br />She also apologised &ldquo;unreservedly&rdquo; for claiming for two pornographic films that were bought and watched by her husband.