Two veteran Tory MPs to stand down over expenses

May 21, 2009 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

peterviggers Sir Peter Viggers is to stand down

Two leading Conservative MPs have announced he is to stand down at the next election after press reports about his expenses.

The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that Sir Peter Viggers, MP for Gosport since 1974, “was paid more than £30,000 of taxpayers’ money for “gardening” over three years,” including more than £1,600 for a floating duck house in his garden pond.

The Conservative Party said in a statement:

“Sir Peter Viggers has confirmed that he will retire as MP for Gosport at the next election. He will do so at the direct request of David Cameron.”

Another veteran Tory, Anthony Steen, has agreed to stand down at the next election. He claimed “at least £80,000 of taxpayers’ money for work on his country mansion,” according to the Telegraph.

Today at Solicitor General Questions MPs paid tribute to Mr Steen’s work to combat human trafficking.

On Tuesday Douglas Hogg, an MP for 30 years and a former Cabinet minister, announced he will not contest his seat at the next election.

He faced widespread criticism when the Telegraph revealed he had claimed taxpayers’ money to clean the moat at his constituency home.

He denied his claim was for moat cleaning, but the allegation has come to typify the ongoing row about MPs’ expenses in the eyes of many voters.

Gordon Brown made reference to it at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

Over the past two weeks the Telegraph has published details of the expense claims of more than 100 MPs of all parties.

As a result Tory leader David Cameron has banned Conservative MPs from claiming for furniture, other household goods and food shopping and set up a Scrutiny Panel to review “all excessive claims and arrange repayments where appropriate.”

In addition, the Shadow Cabinet are publishing online all the expense claims they make to the House of Commons.

So far two Labour MPs, Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, have had the whip withdrawn and one minister, Shahid Malik, has resigned ahead of an investigation into whether he broke the ministerial code.

The Labour party’s National Executive Council has pledged to take action against other MPs exposed by the Daily Telegraph.

Cath Speight, Chair of the NEC, and Ray Collins, General Secretary of the Labour Party, said in a statement:

“The Labour Party’s National Executive Committee fully supports the action that Gordon Brown is taking on expenses, and has today unanimously endorsed a tough new disciplinary process that can bar MPs found to have flouted the rules from standing as Labour candidates at the next election.

“The NEC has agreed today that a panel of NEC members will be established to interview any Labour MPs where there appears to be evidence against them.

“The panel will have the power to recommend to the NEC that MPs are not allowed to stand as Labour candidates at the next General Election.

“Labour Party members expect the highest standards from Labour representatives and the NEC resolved today that any allegations must be fully investigated, and when appropriate by the proper independent authorities.

“The Prime Minister and the Labour Party Chair, Harriet Harman, have already requested that the Committee on Members Allowances lead an independent investigation of all expenses claims in the last four years.

“If the Committee on Members Allowances does not investigate then the Labour Party will launch its own investigation, supported by a leading independent lawyer and accountants, to review all expenses claimed by Labour MPs in the last four years. Any cases of wrongdoing identified in this process will be referred to the NEC’s panel.”

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