Duncan comments ‘worry’ watchdog – and Cameron

By politics.co.uk staff

Comments from Alan Duncan about MPs being forced to live on rations are “particularly worrying”, according to the former sleaze watchdog.

The shadow Leader of the House also suffered the humiliation of having leader David Cameron rebuke him in public for the comments today.

Sir Alistair Graham said people struggling through the recession would be incensed at the remarks, which were made while being secretly filmed by a journalist activist.

Mr Duncan told the editor of Don’t Panic that MPs were effectively being rationed, and expressed frustration at the effect of the expenses scandal.

“No one who’s 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’re going,” he said.

The Tory leadership appears to be particularly worried about the comments, since Mr Duncan is tasked with responding to the crisis through his role as shadow Leader of the House.

Sir Alistair, former head of the committee for standards in public life, told the Daily Telegraph: “It is particularly worrying that such a senior figure, in a party that is likely to form a government after the next election, would say something like this.”

Yesterday, Mr Duncan apologised for the comments, saying: “The last thing people want to hear is an MP whingeing about his pay and conditions.”

He told the BBC: “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.”

Mr Cameron finally addressed the issue today.

“I spoke to Alan Duncan yesterday. I made it clear in no uncertain terms that when it comes to the expenses mess, the words we use – just as the actions we take – have got to demonstrate completely that we share the public’s real fury at what went on in parliament,” he said.

“Alan made a bad mistake.”

Business secretary Lord Mandelson, who is standing in for the prime minister while he is on holiday, told the BBC: “Alan Duncan is very fond of speaking a good game publicly but in private talking and acting quite differently, so I am not surprised he has been found out.”

Mr Duncan was previously forced to apologise for his expenses claims themselves, at the height of the scandal.