Page last updated at 22:19 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009

Smith admits expenses 'disgrace'

Jacqui Smith: "I don't think people who have been disgraced should go to the House of Lords"

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has admitted that her reputation was "disgraced" by the expenses scandal.

Speaking on BBC One's Question Time, she said it was "obvious because I have made an apology to Parliament that I was wrong".

Ms Smith designated her sister's house in London, which she shares, as her "main home" and then claimed second home allowances on her family home.

A standards inquiry found that she had done so "wrongly".

Ms Smith said that she did not think former ministers embroiled in the expenses scandal should go to the House of Lords.

Asked if she had been "disgraced", she replied: "Yes I think to a certain extent I have been. I think it's obvious because I have made an apology to Parliament that I was wrong.

"That's why I made the apology."

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A six-month inquiry into Ms Smith by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon, came in response to two complaints - one that she had wrongly designated the London house belonging to her sister, at which she paid rent, as her main home.

The second related to the revelation that Ms Smith had claimed for pay-per-view films on her second homes allowance.

In the report Mr Lyon upheld both complaints and recommended Ms Smith apologise to the House of Commons for the home designation.

He said under previous rules she had been required to designate her London residence as her main home when she became a minister in July 1999.

Those rules changed in 2004 but Ms Smith left the London house - where she paid rent for sole use of a room and "shared use of the rest of the house" - as her designated "main home".

She argued that as a busy minister she spent more time in London.

In June 2007 she sought confirmation from Commons officials that that was reasonable, given that her family was in her Redditch constituency but she spent most of her time in Westminster - and was told officials agreed with her.

But the commissioner said that advice was "flawed" and Ms Smith could "have taken a broader view of her situation than she did" and taken into account the number of nights she spent at both properties.

The definition of the main home of an MP is normally determined by where they spend the most nights.

Police evidence suggested that between 28 June 2007 and 31 March 2008 Ms Smith spent 26 more nights in Redditch than in London - her account had suggested it was only two.



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