Expenses retribution for ex-minister McNulty

By Alex Stevenson

Former Home Office minister Tony McNulty will be forced to pay back over £13,000 and has apologise to the Commons for expenses abuses.

The Commons’ committee on standards and privileges committee recommended that he repay £13,837, the difference between what he claimed and “what he should have claimed”.

Mr McNulty, who also served as employment and welfare reform in the Department for Work and Pensions, was the subject of a seven-month investigation by the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Sir John Lyon, who passed his findings to the standards and privileges committee.

He claimed his second home allowance for a property his parents lived in in Harrow, eight miles from his home in central London.

“I accept fully that I made careless mistakes on mortgage interest and council tax claims,” Mr McNulty told MPs this afternoon.

“I further accept the informal nature of my arrangements. I regret I did not recognise a more formal arrangement would have been wise and preferable to have not given the appearance of benefit.

“I accept the report’s conclusion in full including the requirement to repay, without complaint and apologise without reservation to the House.

“It is, however, time to move on.”

Sir John’s memorandum to the committee stated that Mr McNulty breached the rules “in not offsetting all the living costs of his parents who lived there as their sole residence, including their rental costs or equivalent, in the claims he made for his Harrow property”.

The standards and privileges committee’s report stated: “We conclude that Mr McNulty breached the rules of the House by claiming against his additional costs allowance for expenses in respect of his second home that were not wholly and exclusively incurred in connection with his parliamentary duties.

“This had the effect of subsidising the living costs of Mr McNulty’s parents from public funds.”

The ex-Home Office minister stood down as a minister in June amid a cloud of criticism, but always insisted he had been within the rules of the time.

He argued in a letter to the clerk of the committee dated October 19th that he “acted within the letter and spirit of the current rules”.

Tory MP Greg Hands had initially complained about Mr McNulty in March.

Earlier this month former home secretary Jacqui Smith was forced to apologise to the Commons for expenses abuses.