North MPs promise to repay £10,000 expenses

NORTH East MPs caught out in the expenses sacndal have so far promised to pay back more than £10,000.

MP David Clelland

NORTH East MPs caught out in the expenses sacndal have so far promised to pay back more than £10,000.

As public anger grows over the scale of claims made by MPs, many have tried to head off criticism by repaying cash.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband and other North MPs have repaid thousands of pounds in expenses – including for claims not yet published.

Last night Tyne Bridge MP David Clelland became the latest to go over his claims and see where he could make changes. The long-standing Labour MP said he would be repaying £300 claimed towards a £470 oriental rug.

He plans to take the rug out of his London flat, return it to his Tyneside home and then hand over a cheque.

Mr Clelland said: “I don’t think I have done anything wrong, and we are in a very awkward position where acting on this is seen as being as bad as not doing anything. The rug was not for £470, they eventually decided to look at the price list from John Lewis and decided they would only pay £300.

“They listed it as an oriental rug, which I don’t think it is. It’s just a carpet for a home I live in when I’m in London.”

Mr Clelland said he was wary of returning money because of the “obvious implications”.

His promise comes as the Commons authorities release a lengthy list of MPs who have voluntarily repaid money so far, although precise details are not listed.

South Shields MP David Miliband has handed back £434.24 from his second home allowance despite previously insisting that all his claims were “right”.

Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins repaid £200 in travel claims and another £1,227.40 relating to his second home in 2008-9 – which are yet to be published.

Gateshead MP Sharon Hodgson handed back £1,516.66 for claims made under the additional cost allowance.

Former Cabinet Minister Hilary Armstrong, MP for Durham North West, has handed back £5,500 after previously admitting claiming for “tacky” food bills.

Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell, a Home Office Minister, has handed back £131.50 from his second home allowance.

Junior Defence Minister and Durham North MP Kevan Jones has returned £172 from the same “additional cost allowance” (ACA) pot.

Wearside’s Fraser Kemp repaid £432.35 in ACA claims, while Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith returned £135.50 after claiming for his TV licence twice in a year.

Easington’s John Cummings has also repaid £277.06 for his 2008-09 claims. The MP, who is due to step down at the next election, said: “Now the claims are readily available for inspection it is for others to judge me, but in my view my claims are reasonable given that I provide a good service to my constituents through a fully-staffed office.”

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has corrected a Commons error which saw her listed as repaying £240. She said she has not made any claims which needed repaying.

:: In yesterday's edition of The Journal, in referring to Sir Alan Beith's expenses, we said that he had claimed for mortgage payments. We accept that Sir Alan does not have and never has had a mortgage on his London accommodation, which he has always rented, and that the claims were for rent. We apologise for the error.

:: Click here to read more on the MP's expenses scandal


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer