Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 15:00 UK

Blears vows to 'get on with job'

Blears: 'PM thinks I'm doing great job'

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has insisted she is "getting on with the job" amid speculation over her future.

The prime minister has said Ms Blears was guilty of "totally unacceptable behaviour" over her expenses claims despite them being within the rules.

Amid speculation this signalled she was in line for the chop, Gordon Brown's official spokesman told reporters: "She's doing a good job."

Ms Blears, speaking in Salford, said the PM had "full confidence in me".

Ms Blears' expenses were among the first to be highlighted in the Daily Telegraph's report.

Ms Blears subsequently admitted not paying capital gains tax on the profit from selling a flat repaired with taxpayers' money and has agreed to repay £13,332.

Angry and appalled

The Salford MP also changed the property she designated as her "second home" with the Commons fees office twice in one year.

She has insisted that the arrangements were approved by the fees office and were within the rules as they stood.

But speaking in her constituency, she admitted: "I also recognise that acting within the rules does not cut it with the public and that is why I paid the money.

I am the only party leader in these last few weeks to have actually suspended and asked people to step down. If it became necessary to do so for other people, I will not resile from doing so
Gordon Brown

"People obviously are angry, not just here in Salford, they are angry across the country."

Ms Blears insisted that voters in Salford "know the person I am".

But as she addressed reporters, one of her constituents, Brian Roberts, heckled that she was a "cheat" and a "swindler".

Mr Brown was asked about her future at a press conference on Tuesday and told reporters: "Hazel Blears has paid the money back. She has done so on the advice of me and others.

"But she has not broken the law, she has not broken the rules of the House of Commons.

"It is unacceptable behaviour and she has accepted it as unacceptable behaviour."

Dry rot claim

And then in a GMTV interview on Wednesday, in which he said he was "angry" and "appalled" about some of the expenses revelations, he was questioned again on her future.

He said: "I am the only party leader in these last few weeks to have actually suspended and asked people to step down.

"If it became necessary to do so for other people, I will not resile from doing so. We will take all the action that is necessary."

Gordon Brown: What Hazel Blears did was unacceptable. Clip courtesy of GMTV

Pushed further on whether she would keep her job, Mr Brown made reference to a review of all MPs' claims made over the past four years.

He said: "At the moment Hazel Blears has made her apologies, she has returned her money, she is the minister for communities.

"We have a further investigation. If it proves anything then we will have to take action."

At the press conference on Tuesday Mr Brown also cast serious doubt on the future of government whip Margaret Moran as an MP, describing her expenses claims as "completely unacceptable".

The Luton South MP is already under investigation after spending £22,000 to pay for dry rot treatment at her partner's home in Southampton.

She has agreed to repay the money and has been backed by her local party.

But Mr Brown said any Labour MP found to have "defied the rules" will not be allowed to stand at the next election.

Mr Brown said an internal party investigation was under way into the Luton South MP, adding: "The behaviour - no, it's completely unacceptable.

"The question will be debated by us as a party. The behaviour we are talking about is completely unacceptable. There's got to be a process of examining the evidence and coming to a conclusion."

The TV presenter Esther Rantzen is threatening to stand against Mrs Moran at the next general election as an anti-sleaze candidate.

On Tuesday Mr Brown said he was committed to a "complete clean-up of the system".

He added: "No minister will be in the cabinet or in the government in future if it is proven that they defied the rules."

In a joint statement, Cath Speight, chair of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee and Ray Collins, the party's general secretary, said the NEC fully supported the prime minister.

An NEC panel would be set up to interview MPs who were the subject of allegations, they said.

This will have the power to recommend to the NEC that MPs should not stand for the Commons under the Labour banner.



Print Sponsor


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific