BRITAIN

Prime Minister Gordon Brown to repay parliamentary expenses

Following an independent review of the expenses scandal that rocked British politics, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been ordered to pay back more than 12,000 pounds, his office confirmed Monday.

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AFP - Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been ordered to pay back more than 12,000 pounds in parliamentary expenses following a review into a claims scandal that rocked British politics, his office said Monday.

Brown will repay 12,415.10 pounds (19,596 dollars, 13,243 euros) for claims he made for gardening, cleaning and maintenance at his second home after new limits were imposed on lawmakers' parliamentary allowances.

But his office insisted that he had not broken any rules but was instead conforming to new limits which have been retrospectively imposed.

Former civil servant Thomas Legg was tasked with reviewing lawmakers' claims over the past five years after leaked documents showing their lavish spending habits at taxpayers' expense sparked public outrage.

He said that any claim over 2,000 pounds a year for cleaning or 1,000 a year for gardening was excessive and should be repaid, and it is under these rules that Brown will pay back several thousands of pounds.

"Mr. Brown has always supported this process and will co-operate fully and make the necessary repayment," the prime minister's Downing Street office said.

"Mr. Brown's expenses have always been cleared by the House (of Commons) authorities as entirely consistent with the rules."

Brown urged government ministers to respond "promptly and in full" to any similar requests for repayment or clarification of their claims, ahead of the establishment of a completely new system of allowances.

"Our actions will mean the discredited regime is completely replaced, that we prevent the problems of the past from happening again and help to restore public confidence," the prime minister wrote in a memo.

Legg determined that Brown should repay 10,716.60 pounds that he claimed in excess of the new rules on cleaning and 302.50 pounds he claimed on gardening.

He also highlighted a bill for painting and decorating for 1,396 pounds from April 2006 that was mistakenly submitted twice, Downing Street said, adding: "Mr Brown has apologised for this inadvertent error."

Opposition Conservative leader David Cameron also urged everyone to respond about letters to their expenses, saying it was a "very important part in cleaning up our politics".

Cameron, who opinions polls put on course to oust Brown at the next general election due by June, has received a letter from Legg asking about mistaken mortgage claims worth 218.91 pounds which he has already repaid, his office said.
 

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