MPs rush to remedy row with cheques

FORMER agriculture minister&nbsp;Elliot Morley was last night revealed to have claimed parliamentary expenses of more&nbsp;than &pound;16,000 for a mortgage that did not exist.<br /><br />Morley continued to claim for the mortgage interest on his constituency home for more than 18 months after the loan had already been paid off. This latest revelation is regarded as the gravest case in the slew of humiliating expenses revelations for MPs.<br /><br />Junior health minister Phil Hope yesterday joined a growing number of MPs scrabbling to pay back expenses in a bid to soothe voter anger over the scandal.<br /><br />Hope yesterday said he would return &pound;41,000 in misclaimed expenses, which he used to refurbish his second home, hours after Communities Secretary Hazel Blears brandished a &pound;13,300 cheque to pay Inland Revenue for tax she avoided on a London flat.<br /><br />So far, more than &pound;100,000 has been returned by 20 MPs from four parties as a direct result of the expenses investigation.<br /><br />Yesterday Prime Minister Gordon Brown and David Cameron clashed angrily in the first Prime Minister Questions since the humiliating expenses revelations.<br /><br />The two party leaders argued over what should be done to change the allowances system, after Cameron told the Prime Minister to &ldquo;get on with it&rdquo; and &ldquo;show some leadership&rdquo; over his handling of the expenses scandal.<br /><br />The Conservative leader also urged Brown to scrap the &pound;10,000 communications allowance claimed by MPs and to axe the number of MPs in the Commons by ten per cent.<br /><br />While Cameron criticised the lack of leadership from Number 10, Brown challenged the Tories to back his plan to cap the amount of mortgage interest MPs could claim on second homes.<br /><br />Last night Brown asked the Commons members&rsquo; allowances committee&nbsp;to establish an independent body to review all expenses claims by MPs.