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Parliament Speaker owns up in British expenses row

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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