Expenses: ‘Secret deals’ go under the radar

By politics.co.uk staff

Parliament has published details of MPs’ minor expenses offences which were previously allowed to be kept secret under Commons rules.

But the details went largely under the radar given yesterday’s momentous events in Westminster – prompting criticism that the news was being ‘swept under the carpet’ by the parliamentary authorities.

Ten MPs are implicated in complaints about minor expenses issues, including Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan.

For minor misuses over less serious complaints, MPs were previously allowed to exploit a loophole known as ‘rectification’ to avoid publication of the details if they paid back the money and apologised.

That loophole was closed, but parliament’s failure to publish the details more prominently has been leapt upon by the Telegraph newspaper, which suggests that the motion calling for the ‘rectification’ complaints to be published was initially blocked by Ms Harman’s ministerial aide Ian Lavery.

The motion was however passed last week and the details have now been published, albeit obscurely, on parliament’s website here.

Most of the complaints concern relatively small amounts relating to stationery, letters and other small-ticket items claimed.

For instance, Ms Harman had to pay back £211 for mistakenly sending circular letter as a result of “administrative errors” in her office, while Mr Khan’s misuse of Commons stationery and notepaper saw him asked to repay £173.36.

But parliament has been criticised for not dealing with the loophole – which effectively saw some MPs re-elected before knowledge of the misuse became public – sooner.

The news comes a week after the first ex-MP to appear in court on criminal charges, David Chaytor, pleaded guilty to false accounting.

It also emerged that police yesterday handed another expenses file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), bringing the total to nine – of which six have so far resulted in charges being brought.