British expenses scandal moves to heart of governmentJune 2nd, 2009 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS
London, June 2 (DPA) The scandal over the abuse of parliamentary expenses moved closer to the core of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government Tuesday amid reports of an expected ministerial resignation and the admission of “errors” by two cabinet ministers.
Unconfirmed reports said Home Secretary Jacqui Smith would step down from her post in a reshuffle expected to be undertaken by Brown in the wake of elections to the European parliament and local elections in Britain later this week.
The 46-year-old minister had admitted to declaring her sister’s house in London as a second home under expenses rules, and earlier had made embarrassing headlines over her husband’s hire of pornographic videos on her expenses account.
Brown has promised to “clean-up” politics in the wake of the expenses scandal, in which hundreds of members of parliament (MPs) have been accused of making exaggerated - and possibly fraudulent - claims.
More than 50 MPs have since declared that they will not stand again in the next general election, due by June 2010, while the main opposition parties have urged Brown to hold an immediate general election to restore popular trust in politics.
The reports about Smith’s possible departure from government after two years in the job followed apologies from two key government ministers over “errors” in their expenses claims.
Late Monday, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, apologised for claims he made on service charges on a London flat and offered to repay several hundred pounds.
Darling, the second-most powerful man in the British government, and a long-term ally of Brown, had earlier been accused of changing the designation of a second home four times in four years to assist claims, and of claiming 1,400 pounds for help in filling in his tax returns.
On Tuesday, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon admitted that he “accidentally” overclaimed expenses on a second home and said he would pay back the 384 pounds ($630) in question.
Even though the sums involved in the cases involving the two long-standing Labour ministers are small, the scandal surrounding expenses has evolved to focus on the issue of morality in government.
The latest revelations come just two days before elections to the European parliament, and local elections in Britain, in which the ruling Labour Party is expected to perform badly.
It is widely expected that Brown will undertake a major reshuffle following the elections in an attempt to restore his government’s battered image, and that a number of key government ministers could be replaced.
A series of opinion polls published ahead of the elections has shown that support for all the main parties has dropped in the wake of the scandal, and that voters are likely to turn to fringe parties at both ends of the political spectrum.
- MP's expense claims rise in a year - Sep 07, 2012
- Gordon Brown worst offender in MPs' expenses scam - Feb 05, 2010
- New book reveals how Ministers out for revenge turned against Gordon Brown - Nov 20, 2010
- Britain faces parliament polls with no clear winner in sight - Apr 07, 2010
- Fourth British minister quits, Brown urged to step down (Lead) - Jun 05, 2009
- British government outlines tighter rules on expenses - May 21, 2009
- Third minister steps down from Brown's government - Jun 05, 2009
- Brit defence minister claimed 20,700-pounds of taxpayers money to fix bell tower - Dec 11, 2009
- PM reviews performance of ministers - Jun 09, 2011
- British newspaper calls for Gordon Brown's resignation - Jun 03, 2009
- Chidambaram gets finance again, Shinde becomes home minister (Lead) - Jul 31, 2012
- I'll welcome Rahul's entry into government, says PM (Third Lead) - Aug 11, 2012
- Jacqui Smith Loses Seat To Tory Candidate - May 07, 2010
- I'll welcome Rahul's entry into government: PM (Second Lead) - Aug 11, 2012
- Chidambaram gets finance again, Shinde becomes home minister (Second Lead) - Aug 01, 2012
Tags: alistair darling, apologised, cabinet ministers, chancellor of the exchequer, elections in britain, european parliament, fraudulent claims, geoff hoon, gordon brown, government ministers, home secretary, jacqui smith, local elections, london flat, members of parliament, opposition parties, powerful man, prime minister gordon brown, reshuffle, service charges