Parliament Speaker owns up in British expenses row
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Last Updated: Friday, October 16, 2009, 00:25
London: Britain's Parliament Speaker is to repay nearly 1,000 pounds in wrongly claimed expenses, he said today as Prime Minister Gordon Brown again spoke out about the damaging row.

John Bercow, who took over the House of Commons role in June after his predecessor resigned amid a political storm over expenses, said he was paying back the money after discovering an "accidental overclaim."

"In November 2008 I made an accidental overclaim of 978.51 pounds (about USD 1,600)," he said, adding the mistake was to do with mortgage payments and he was sending a cheque for the amount before being asked to do.

In May, The Daily Telegraph newspaper started revealing how MPs spent taxpayers' money on everything from a duck island to gardening, triggering a wave of resignations including then House of Commons speaker Michael Martin, the first holder of the post to be forced out in 300 years.

The story is making headlines again because ex-civil servant Thomas Legg -- appointed to audit MPs' expenses from the last five years -- has just written to them after their return to work this week, telling many to pay money back.

Legg has recommended a retrospective annual cap of 2,000 pounds for cleaning and 1,000 pounds for gardening at second homes. Lawmakers are allowed to claim expenses for homes near parliament in London plus in their constituencies.

Bercow said he was acting of his own initiative in paying back the wrongly claimed cash.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, October 16, 2009, 00:25

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