Expenses audit gets backing

Read it on the Telegraph & Argus website By"Tanya O'Rourke »

MPs across Bradford are united in their belief that wrongly-claimed expenses must be paid back.

A retrospective audit of MPs' expenses over the last five years by Sir Thomas Legg has thrown up queries about claims made by some of the district's MPs - however they appear to be due to administrative errors.

MP for Shipley, Philip Davies, said three of his claims had been queried by the auditor but no repayment was recommended.

He said: "The upshot is, provided I can find the paperwork, they will be satisfied. I do not see a problem.

"If people have done something wrong and claimed something they should not have claimed for, they should pay it back.

"Some of my colleagues in Parliament should be in prison or at least in court to explain themselves.

"People who claim for mortgages that don't exist is, in my mind, blatant fraud and I don't see that MPs should be treated differently to anybody else.

"There are other people who have made claims inadvertently and in that case it is right that they should pay the money back."

A spokesman for Keighley MP Ann Cryer confirmed she had received a letter from Sir Thomas requesting clarification of some"historical claims" but there were no requests for repayment.

Bradford West MP Marsha Singh said he had been asked to repay two claims but was planning to query both requests.

The first was for a mobile phone bill of £521.40 from July and August 2006. He said it was a legitimate expense which he had claimed on the wrong form. He also said he had been asked to pay back a mortgage overpayment which he also plans to contest.

He said: "It is a completely legitimate claim. If it turns out there has been an error, of course I would repay.

"I'm not generally in favour of retrospective actions, however where errors have been made it should be repaid.

"What I do not accept is a retrospective change on the rules, arbitrarily, because that is just not fair."

He said he was also asked to provide evidence of mortgage interest repayments between January 2008 and March this year.

Bradford North MP Terry Rooney said: "There is an extremely minor amount of money which we are seeking clarification on and I am trying to find all the necessary paperwork. No repayment has been asked for.

"My view is if people have been wrongly paid they should have to pay the money back."

Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: "In common with all MPs I have received a letter from Sir Thomas Legg. I have asked him to clarify a couple of points in his letter and once I have that information I will respond."