Page last updated at 08:23 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 09:23 UK

MP's fears of expenses 'suicide'

Nadine Dorries: "It's a form of torture"

The atmosphere at Westminster has become so "unbearable" due to expenses revelations that a suicide is feared, one MP named in the row has warned.

Tory Nadine Dorries, who the Daily Telegraph said only spends weekends and holidays in her designated main home, warned MPs were "beginning to crack".

But Labour's Stephen Pound said MPs did not deserve sympathy, adding: "It's nobody's fault except our own."

Ms Dorries insisted on her blog that she acted within the rules.

'Our fault'

The Mid Bedfordshire MP wrote that the mood at Westminster, as MPs prepared to return to their constituencies for a recess week, was so grim that people were constantly checking to see if others were OK.

"Everyone fears a suicide," she said.

"If someone isn't seen, offices are called and checked."

In an interview with the BBC, Ms Dorries, who was a nurse before she came into politics, said MPs were walking around "with terror in their eyes" and likened the atmosphere to that surrounding Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch-hunts" of Communists during the 1950s.

It's like a slasher movie where every morning we come in and see who's still alive
Stephen Pound MP

But speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Mr Pound dismissed the analogy as "facile" because "Senator McCarthy's victims were innocent".

He acknowledged that the mood at Westminster was "very, very dark", adding: "It's like a slasher movie where every morning we come in and see who's still alive."

But he said MPs had no-one to blame but themselves, and accused his colleagues of revelling in a sense of entitlement fostered by fees office staff who saw it as their job to maximise members' claims.

"They were helping us over the cliff, but it's our fault for jumping," Mr Pound said.

The Telegraph has argued that Ms Dorries' living arrangements meant that £18,000 claimed in rent on the property she designates as her second home was unjustified.

'Really appalled'

But on her blog, she says that the rules do not stipulate how many nights should be spent in either property.

Following more fresh revelations in the Daily Telegraph, Labour MP Ian Gibson has said that he is prepared to quit if his constituents want even though he had not broken any rules.

He has admitted claiming allowances for a flat where his daughter was living, which he eventually sold to her at cut-price.

The newspaper also said that over four years Conservative MP Peter Luff claimed £17,000 for household goods, including crockery costing £625 and three lavatory seats.

Mr Luff said he was "really appalled" at the allegations and insisted he tried to keep costs down.

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