Duncan apologises for ‘rations’ remark

By Ian Dunt

Alan Duncan has unreservedly apologised for saying MPs were being forced to live on “rations” since the expenses scandal.

The comments were caught on a secretly recorded video by activist group Don’t Panic.

The group had previously dug a pound sign into the shadow leader of the House’s garden, at which point he invited them to the Commons to discuss their differences.

In the video, taken in one of the Commons’ bars, Mr Duncan argues that talented people will no longer come into politics because of the new rules.

“No one who has done anything in the outside world, or is capable of doing such a thing, will ever come into this place ever again, the way we are going,” he said.

“Basically, it’s being nationalised, you have to live on rations and are treated like s**t.

“I spend my money on my garden and claim a tiny fraction based on what is proper. And I could claim the whole bloody lot, but I don’t,” he continued.

Mr Duncan cut an apologetic figure today, saying: “The last thing people want to hear is an MP whingeing about his pay and conditions.”

He told BBC News: “It is a huge honour to be an MP and my remarks, although meant in jest, were completely uncalled for. I apologise for them unreservedly.”

Fellow Tory MP Nigel Evans was also caught on film saying he could not live on an MP’s salary. His spokesman said Mr Duncan’s statement was “enough” and Mr Evans would not be making any further comments.

The men’s colleague, George Osborne, refused to be drawn on the issue.

“We are getting on with the business of talking about the big issues this country faces,” the shadow chancellor said.

But business secretary Peter Mandelson, who is standing in for Gordon Brown while the prime minister is on holiday, was more forthright.

“I don’t know what sort of joke he’s trying to make in private,” he told the BBC. “But as the shadow Leader of the House, he’s not exactly been helpful in bringing about the reforms the government has tried to introduce.”

The comments were filmed by Heydon Prowse, the same campaigner who previously filmed inside fashionable London restaurant Nobu during the controversy over bluefin tuna.