Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 13:02 UK

MP Cash 'not intending to quit'

MP Bill Cash: "I don't believe there was any disadvantage to the taxpayer"

Conservative MP Bill Cash has said he does not intend to stand down over his expenses claims for rent on a "second home" owned by his daughter.

Party leader David Cameron has said Mr Cash faces "serious questions" for claiming over £15,000 in rent, when he owned his own flat near Westminster.

But the MP said his claims were within the rules, not extravagant and had not disadvantaged the taxpayer.

He said he would repay it, if judged to have "transgressed" the rules.

However, the MP for Stone in Staffordshire said he wanted to explain his side of the story in a "rather different environment to that which is going on at the moment" and believed it would become "better understood".

In a statement, the MP said was prepared to repay the money "in the context of having a fair hearing of the scrutiny committee and due process" but he believes that "if this process is properly conducted, his actions will be seen to be reasonable in the circumstances".

'Reasonable rent'

Since the Telegraph began its series of stories about what MPs have claimed, based on leaked receipts, 13 MPs have said they will stand down at the next election - although some say they are quitting for health or family reasons.

But Mr Cash said he was not intending to stand down as an MP and had been working hard on constituency issues all week - including the campaign for a public inquiry into Stafford hospital.

I certainly don't think there was anything extravagant or extraordinary about what I have done
Bill Cash

"I have been doing my job as I always have done because I have always fought for my constituents and they know that," he said.

Asked again if he had thought of standing down, he said: "In the circumstances, I have not, no."

Mr Cash designated his daughter's flat as his official "second home" for a year in 2004-5.

He reportedly claimed more than £15,000 on his second home allowances for the rent on the Notting Hill property, despite owning his own flat in Pimlico - which is nearer Parliament.

'Small flat'

Mr Cash said when the claims were made they were within the rules - the rules changed in 2006 so MPs could no longer claim for properties owned by close relatives.

He told the BBC he could not have stayed at his flat in Pimlico because his son was living there, rent free at the time.

"He was then living there and I had the option of going somewhere else, so I took the rented property from my daughter which was a reasonable rent and in accordance with the tenancy agreement I had entered into," he said.

MPs TO HAVE STOOD DOWN SINCE EXPENSES SCANDAL BROKE

Ben Chapman (Lab)
Ian McCartney (Lab)*
Margaret Moran (Lab)
Michael Martin (Lab)
John Smith (Lab)*
Christopher Fraser (Con)*
Julie Kirkbride (Con)
Ann Winterton (Con)*
Nicholas Winterton (Con)*
Andrew MacKay (Con)
Peter Viggers (Con)
Anthony Steen (Con)
Douglas Hogg (Con)


*These MPs say they are stepping down for other reasons


"I had to be somewhere in London for my Parliamentary duties."

Asked if he would pay the money back, he said: "I certainly believe that if I have in any way transgressed the rules or if I am seen to have done something that I shouldn't have done - yes, the answer is clearly yes."

He said while some claims for country homes had been described as "rather extravagant" - he had only claimed for a "very small flat", rather than his much larger constituency home in Shropshire.

And he said some MPs had claimed expenses while also getting rent from other London homes.

"I certainly don't think there was anything extravagant or extraordinary about what I have done."

And he said he had not claimed for anything that was "not within the rules and the spirit of the rules".

But Conservative leader Mr Cameron said: "I think Bill Cash has got some very serious questions to answer.

"He needs to answer those questions and also cooperate with the inquiry that the Conservative Party is holding.

"And everyone knows the consequences of not cooperating with those inquiries - and that's what needs to happen."

Mr Cameron has warned that any MP who refuses to pay back claims deemed by its internal scrutiny panel to have been excessive could be sacked.

Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) has its own disciplinary panel which is looking at its MPs' claims.

Deputy leader Harriet Harman said Labour MPs who had done something wrong would have to "pay the price".

"The idea that we're turning a blind eye to it, we don't think it's serious, we hope it'll all be swept under the carpet, that is not our approach at all," she said.

"We're saying it's not just that people have got to have made their claims in good faith, but they've got to have exercised good judgement because that's how their constituents will judge them."

Elliot Morley - the former minister who has been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party - is also due to meet his constituency party on Saturday.

It emerged he had claimed £16,000 for mortgage interest payments, after the mortgage had been paid off - he blamed sloppy accounting.

There has been speculation he could be the 14th MP to say they are standing down. He would not comment on the reports but said he would make a statement after Saturday's meeting.



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