MP calls for expenses system to be reformed

POLITICIAN Hugo Swire believes there were some 'unacceptable abuses' to the expenses system in place for MPs.

And, in a week where financial revelations over what some had claimed turned into an unstoppable saga, the East Devon MP said he welcomed measures taken by David Cameron to reform the process.

Conservatives now have to justify any claim they make and potential breaches will be scrutinised by a committee - a system which started last Tuesday, May 12.

Mr Swire said the party's members also have to publish any expense claim on the conservative website.

He added: ""There have been some unacceptable abuses to a system which was clearly flawed.

""I think that British tax payers have a right to be angry about the abuses and perceived abuses.""

Details of Conservative MPs' expenses revealed this week showed Mr Swire had claimed £22,802 for his second home allowance.

This figure was £281 short of the maximum £23,083 allowed in the 2007 and 2008 parliament year.

Mr Swire said he had not broken any rules with what he had claimed. ""If any of my expenses have been judged to be wrong I will, of course, pay them back,"" he explained.

""I am not 'flipping' it for capital gains tax - I just maintain the property.""

Expenses for more than 600 MPs elected to the House of Commons were first made available for public attention in 2004.

Politicians claim an average of £118,000 each year from the public purse to cover travel costs and to run their second homes and offices.

Mr Swire said the categories for which Conservative MPs used to be able to claim, including IT provisions and stationery and postage, had now been reduced.

""A Tory party that aspires to be the next government has to lead by example.

""That is totally understood by me, my colleagues and certainly our leader.

""MPs should be above suspicion. David (Cameron) recognises the anger among the public and so do I.""

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday, May 13, that all MPs' receipts for expenses claimed in the last four years should be independently reviewed.