Page last updated at 22:35 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 23:35 UK

MPs 'give up secret expenses bid'

Commons Speaker Michael Martin
Speaker Michael Martin led those challenging the ruling on disclosure

MPs have finally abandoned their legal fight to keep secret the details of their expenses.

The Commons Members Estimates Committee says it will not seek leave to appeal against a High Court ruling ordering a detailed breakdown of their claims.

The court ruled that the Information Tribunal acted within its powers when it demanded details of MPs' second home allowances be provided.

The details of 14 MPs, including Gordon Brown, must be released by Friday.

Information on the remaining MPs, thought to number around one million individual items, will be published in the autumn, a spokeswoman for the committee said.

'John Lewis list'

It will also comply with a ruling by the court that MPs' addresses must be published except where there are "specific security concerns", she said.

Heather Brooke, the freedom of information campaigner whose request, along with those from journalists on the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times, led to the High Court ruling, welcomed the committee's decision.

"I am glad that they have finally decided to stop throwing money away on what from the beginning was a hopeless cause," she said.

"I look forward to the House of Commons embracing a new level of openness in the future and letting their constituents see exactly how they spend their expenses."

MPs' expenses were criticised when the so-called "John Lewis list" of household items MPs can purchase was published earlier this year.

Speaker's wife claims 'reasonable'

Under their "additional costs allowance" MPs can claim up to 23,000-a-year towards the cost of maintaining a second residence, normally in their constituency.

The list includes 10,000 kitchens and 6,000 bathrooms.

The original demand for a detailed breakdown of the additional costs allowances of 14 named MPs and former MPs was made under the Freedom of Information Act.

The MPs included Mr Brown, Conservative leader David Cameron and the ex-Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell, among others.

The Information Tribunal said the breakdown should be given, but the battle was then taken to the High Court by the Commons Commission.

Commons Speaker Michael Martin was himself criticised when it emerged that his wife had claimed 4,139 on taxis - largely for shopping trips.

But last week, Parliament's standards chief John Lyon ruled Mary Martin's claims were reasonable.




SEE ALSO
Clegg's 7k renovation expenses
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MPs' expenses fight 'unfortunate'
11 Apr 08 |  UK Politics
MPs 'halls of residence' pondered
02 Apr 08 |  UK Politics
Speaker facing expenses inquiry
01 Apr 08 |  UK Politics
MPs' 10,000 kitchens on expenses
13 Mar 08 |  UK Politics

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