MP claims expenses scandal minister should be ‘worried’

Witney Gazette: Nicola Blackwood Nicola Blackwood

UNDER-FIRE Culture Secretary Maria Miller has “most serious” questions to answer about her expenses, Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood said yesterday.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Blackwood said she would be worried if she was in her fellow Conservative’s position as pressure ramped up on Mrs Miller over her expenses scandal.

The rest of Oxfordshire’s Tory MPs steered clear of joining the mounting criticism amid calls for Mrs Miller to resign.

Ms Blackwood said: “The questions which she is being faced with are of the most serious and I have to say when I deal with my expenses, I am as transparent as I can be.

“It’s all up on my website.

“I have to say if I was faced with the kind of questions that she is faced with, I would be really quite worried indeed.

“I only know what has been reported in the papers... but clearly it’s very unhelpful for this to drag on in the way that it is.”

She said Mrs Miller’s response to the controversy could have been “clearer”.

Last week the cross-party Commons Standards Committee ordered Mrs Miller to say sorry and repay £5,800 in overclaimed mortgage expenses – £40,000 less than an independent report had recommended.

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Mrs Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, was then condemned for giving a 32-second apology on the floor of the House of Commons.

Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry said: “A complaint was made to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

“That complaint was investigated and Maria Miller was cleared of any wrong-doing on the original complaint.

“The committee did, however, feel that Maria Miller hadn’t co-operated sufficiently promptly with the Parliamentary Commissioner and asked her to apologise for that matter which she has done.

“That should be an end to this matter.”

Henley MP John Howell refused to comment on the issue, while Wantage MP Ed Vaizey did not return the Oxford Mail’s call.

Yesterday, during a visit to Asda in Clapham, south London, Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron was asked about polling which showed most Conservatives believed Mrs Miller should be out of a job.

“What matters is doing the right thing,” he said. “I think Maria has done the right thing by repaying the money, making an apology and now getting on with her job.”

Pressed on whether Mrs Miller was still in her post because she was a state-educated woman, he replied: “Maria Miller is in her job because she is doing a good job as Culture Secretary.”

Labour’s Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said Mrs Miller’s credibility was “exhausted”.

He said: “I think she should resign and it is clear that that is the overwhelming view of the public as well.

“From all the reports of what has happened it doesn’t look like she has co-operated with the inquiry and her apology to the House was the absolute minimum that she could get away with saying.

“The public sees this as one rule for MPs and another rule for them. I think her credibility is exhausted.”

How the drama unfolded

Between 2005 and 2009 Maria Miller, who has been a secretary of state since 2012, declared a house in Wimbledon as her second home for expenses purposes and claimed around £90,000 in mortgage and running costs – almost the maximum allowed.

She sold the property in February for just under £1.5m, having purchased it in 1996 for £234,000. Parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson concluded that she should instead have designated it as her primary residence, and received expenses in her Basingstoke constituency.

This came to light following a report in the Daily Telegraph – which claims it was threatened by Mrs Miller’s adviser, who “flagged up” her role in implementing press controls following the Leveson report – while investigating the story.

It was found by the Parliamentary standards commissioner that Mrs Miller over-claimed by £45,000 for expenses but the House of Commons Committee on Standards decided she only needed to pay back £5,800.

She was told to apologise to the House of Commons – an address that lasted 32 seconds.

Comments (9)

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9:16am Tue 8 Apr 14

CupHalfFull says...

Not often I find myself agreeing with Nicola Blackwood.
Not often I find myself agreeing with Nicola Blackwood. CupHalfFull
  • Score: 4

11:58am Tue 8 Apr 14

paddy173 says...

Maria Miller should have either pay back the money or be prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Fraud is still a crime or has it replaced foxhunting as a sport for the priviliged. :-)

Politicians need to remember that we elect them to work for us... Best they remember, is there an election soon????
Maria Miller should have either pay back the money or be prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Fraud is still a crime or has it replaced foxhunting as a sport for the priviliged. :-) Politicians need to remember that we elect them to work for us... Best they remember, is there an election soon???? paddy173
  • Score: 6

1:31pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Bicester retired says...

I don't understand why Maria Miller has not been sacked and charged with fraud. She has undoubtedly breached the ministerial code of conducts and betrayed the trust of the voters.
I don't understand why Maria Miller has not been sacked and charged with fraud. She has undoubtedly breached the ministerial code of conducts and betrayed the trust of the voters. Bicester retired
  • Score: 6

3:28pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Sid Hunt says...

The whole 'second homes' situation is one massive fraud. Other professions manage to work away from their homes whilst not expecting the public purse to fund their travel accommodation. MPs expenses policy is a complete farce and less than honest.
The whole 'second homes' situation is one massive fraud. Other professions manage to work away from their homes whilst not expecting the public purse to fund their travel accommodation. MPs expenses policy is a complete farce and less than honest. Sid Hunt
  • Score: 5

5:07pm Tue 8 Apr 14

snert says...

"... Ms Blackwood said: “The questions which she is being faced with are of the most serious and I have to say when I deal with my expenses, I am as transparent as I can be.

“It’s all up on my website..."

Actually Ms Blackwood, it isn't. There is nothing on your website about expenses at all. I searched using the search facility on the site and also using Google to search your site. Nothing. Either that or they're really, and I mean REALLY, transparent. So tranparent that they're invisible.
"... Ms Blackwood said: “The questions which she is being faced with are of the most serious and I have to say when I deal with my expenses, I am as transparent as I can be. “It’s all up on my website..." Actually Ms Blackwood, it isn't. There is nothing on your website about expenses at all. I searched using the search facility on the site and also using Google to search your site. Nothing. Either that or they're really, and I mean REALLY, transparent. So tranparent that they're invisible. snert
  • Score: 0

5:34pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

snert wrote:
"... Ms Blackwood said: “The questions which she is being faced with are of the most serious and I have to say when I deal with my expenses, I am as transparent as I can be.

“It’s all up on my website..."

Actually Ms Blackwood, it isn't. There is nothing on your website about expenses at all. I searched using the search facility on the site and also using Google to search your site. Nothing. Either that or they're really, and I mean REALLY, transparent. So tranparent that they're invisible.
Your right there not on her website.

Did find this though on how she has voted in Parliament, makes some interesting reading.


http://www.theyworkf
oryou.com/mp/24842/n
icola_blackwood/oxfo
rd_west_and_abingdon
/votes
[quote][p][bold]snert[/bold] wrote: "... Ms Blackwood said: “The questions which she is being faced with are of the most serious and I have to say when I deal with my expenses, I am as transparent as I can be. “It’s all up on my website..." Actually Ms Blackwood, it isn't. There is nothing on your website about expenses at all. I searched using the search facility on the site and also using Google to search your site. Nothing. Either that or they're really, and I mean REALLY, transparent. So tranparent that they're invisible.[/p][/quote]Your right there not on her website. Did find this though on how she has voted in Parliament, makes some interesting reading. http://www.theyworkf oryou.com/mp/24842/n icola_blackwood/oxfo rd_west_and_abingdon /votes Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 1

7:18pm Tue 8 Apr 14

cedric557 says...

Maria Miller appears to have made dubious claims for a second home which she owned prior to becoming an MP and included sufficient space for her parents - it may have been legal - just - but is it moral for someone elected to public office to milk the system in this way - especially when her party is pursuing the bedroom tax with such vigour.
Maria Miller appears to have made dubious claims for a second home which she owned prior to becoming an MP and included sufficient space for her parents - it may have been legal - just - but is it moral for someone elected to public office to milk the system in this way - especially when her party is pursuing the bedroom tax with such vigour. cedric557
  • Score: 1

7:22pm Tue 8 Apr 14

cedric557 says...

If it is Maria Millers second home I hope the Inland Revenue will be checking she pays capital gains tax on the 1.25 million profit
If it is Maria Millers second home I hope the Inland Revenue will be checking she pays capital gains tax on the 1.25 million profit cedric557
  • Score: 1

7:32pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Shaun the Faun says...

snert wrote:
"... Ms Blackwood said: “The questions which she is being faced with are of the most serious and I have to say when I deal with my expenses, I am as transparent as I can be.

“It’s all up on my website..."

Actually Ms Blackwood, it isn't. There is nothing on your website about expenses at all. I searched using the search facility on the site and also using Google to search your site. Nothing. Either that or they're really, and I mean REALLY, transparent. So tranparent that they're invisible.
You didn't look very hard... there's a link at the foot of her Home Page...
[quote][p][bold]snert[/bold] wrote: "... Ms Blackwood said: “The questions which she is being faced with are of the most serious and I have to say when I deal with my expenses, I am as transparent as I can be. “It’s all up on my website..." Actually Ms Blackwood, it isn't. There is nothing on your website about expenses at all. I searched using the search facility on the site and also using Google to search your site. Nothing. Either that or they're really, and I mean REALLY, transparent. So tranparent that they're invisible.[/p][/quote]You didn't look very hard... there's a link at the foot of her Home Page... Shaun the Faun
  • Score: 0

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