Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 17:29 UK

MP dismisses expenses abuse claim

Kevin Brennan
Kevin Brennan said he preferred to support local businesses

A Cardiff MP and junior minister is one of the latest to be caught up in the row over parliamentary expenses.

Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan claimed for a television which was delivered to his Welsh home rather than his London address, reported the Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Brennan said he used local companies and only stored equipment at his home before transferring it to London.

He added: "The story contains a thinly disguised smear which has absolutely no basis in fact."

The newspaper article claimed he had a widescreen television delivered to his family home in his Cardiff West constituency then claimed the £450 cost back using his London second home allowance.

Mr Brennan, who is minister for the third sector within the Cabinet Office, said in a statement: "I work hard as an MP for constituents both in Cardiff and Westminster and therefore have to have somewhere to live in both places as part of the job.

"The story in the Sunday Telegraph contains a thinly disguised smear which has absolutely no basis in fact.

"All items claimed for, which were purchased or delivered in Cardiff, were for exclusive use in my London home, and larger ones were stored in my garage in Canton and delivered to London at a convenient time using a local business.

Mr Brennan, whose ministerial work involves charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises, said: "I think most people accept that if the job requires you to live in two places then it is right that reasonable costs should be met, or furnished accommodation provided."

Lord Elis-Thomas expressed amazement at some of the expenses claims by MPs

However he said he accepted the system "makes it look as if some MPs are profiting from it" and called for it to be urgently reformed.

"The Kelly Review will come up with recommendations based on independent evidence of what's needed. The current system and its abuse has done so much harm and the sooner that change comes the better," he said.

Speaking on the BBC's Politics Show, Welsh assembly presiding officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas called the ongoing expenses row a "very serious issue", adding: "I just don't know what they thought they were doing, and that they thought they could ever get away with it."

He said the assembly had "struggled from the beginning" to behave differently to Westminster, and with the aid of software currently used by the Scottish parliament, members of the public would shortly be able to view all AMs' expenses claims online.

"As part of that, we have got an independent panel chaired by Sir Roger Jones, a strong, independent businessperson in the public and private sector," he said.

He said Sir Roger would be reporting this summer.

"We will have a system which will be absolutely transparent. As public representatives, we have a public responsibility. We are accountable to the electorate."

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