Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 18:01 UK

Tory MPs pay back 125,000 more

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David Cameron: "We understand why the public are angry"

Conservative MPs are to pay back another £125,000 in expenses as a result of the party's scrutiny review of claims, David Cameron has said.

Among newly disclosed repayments are £25,000 by Eleanor Laing and £10,000 by Sir Peter Viggers, who was criticised for trying to claim for a duck house.

It doubles to about £250,000 the amount being paid back by Tory MPs in total.

By repaying the money, Mr Cameron said MPs would go some way to "atone for the mistakes of the past".

Mr Cameron, who addressed all Tory MPs in a private meeting in the Commons before publishing the new figures, admitted the process had not been "utterly consistent in every way".

However, he said it was a "good step forward" and more action than any other party had taken.

'Damaging issue'

Mr Cameron set up the scrutiny panel after the Daily Telegraph highlighted a number of claims which led to Tory MPs saying they would pay back about £125,000.

The further repayments showed a "collective" understanding of the scale of problem, Mr Cameron added, and demonstrated the party's "real desire to take a lead over what is a very damaging issue".

We need to recognise, and in some way try and atone for, the mistakes of the past
David Cameron

"It is about understanding the level of public anger about a system which was broken and the part we played in it.

"It is not good enough just to sort out the rules for the future.

"We need to recognise, and in some way try and atone for, the mistakes of the past. And these payments are, I believe, an important part of that."

The latest figures reveal 41 MPs have made extra repayments on top of what was already announced.

Of these, the single highest was £25,000 by shadow justice minister Eleanor Laing who was accused of not paying capital gains tax on the sale of a property.

Gardening

Mr Cameron said that although Ms Laing had not broken any rules, she had decided it was "morally right" to repay the money.

Bill Cash has agreed to repay £15,000 in rent and mortgage costs after it emerged he claimed for rent he paid to his daughter to live in her London flat.

Other senior Tories making payments include John Gummer, who is returning £11,500 for gardening and household maintenance, and Sir John Butterfill, who is paying back £14,000 for mortgage interest and tax claimed on a staff annexe.

In addition, nine MPs have agreed not to claim for a second homes allowance in future.

NOTABLE TORY REPAYMENTS
Eleanor Laing: £25,000
Bill Cash: £15,000
John Butterfill: £14,478
James Arbuthnot: £9,338
Stephen Crabb: £9,300
Michael Spicer: £4,700
James Clappison: £3,100
Anthony Steen: £1,537
Julie Kirkbride: £701

The cases of two MPs, Anne Main and Brian Binley, are being considered by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after complaints were received about them by members of the public.

The Telegraph reported that Mr Binley claimed rent for living in a property owned by his company, not against the rules at the time although later outlawed.

He has publicly said he will not repay any money as he believes he has not done anything wrong.

According to the Telegraph, Ms Main's daughter was living rent free in her publicly funded second home but the MP has also insisted she did nothing wrong.

The BBC News Channnel's chief political correspondent James Landale said not all MPs had yet been scrutinised, with the report featuring 186 of the 192 Tory MPs.

Fair system

While the Tories were stressing the process had been voluntary, he said it was clear that many MPs had faced tough meetings with Mr Cameron over the issue.

Last week the parliamentary authorities said MPs from all parties had paid back £500,000 of money, with Labour MPs repaying a total of £366,000.

A separate body has been set up by Parliament to go through all MPs' claims since 2004 but Mr Cameron, who has himself agreed to pay back nearly £1,000, said he wanted the Conservatives to react more quickly to public anger over expenses.

SCRUTINY PANEL MEMBERS
Tory chief whip: Patrick McLoughlin
Deputy chief whip: John Randall
National convention chairman: Jeremy Middleton
Lawyer: David Gold
Leader's chief of staff: Ed Llewellyn
Party finance director: Ian McIsaac

He set up the scrutiny panel, whose members include his chief whip and chief of staff, and all Tory MPs have had to submit their expenses since 2004 for inspection by the six-man panel.

Anyone found to have made unjustified requests has been under pressure to repay money or face suspension.

Frontbenchers who had already agreed to repay money include George Osborne, Michael Gove and Alan Duncan.

A number of Tory MPs have said they will stand down from Parliament since the expenses crisis began, several in direct consequence of public outcry over their behaviour.

These include Sir Peter Viggers and Andrew MacKay who stood down after it emerged he had named the main home in which he and his wife, fellow Tory MP Julie Kirkbride, lived as his second home and claimed expenses on it.

Mr MacKay, whose case has been referred to the House of Commons authorities, has yet to repay any money.

Ms Kirkbride later said she would quit Parliament after facing criticism over claims she re-mortgaged her second home in her constituency, in which her brother lived rent free, to build an extra bedroom.



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