Duncan escapes expenses rebuke

By Alex Stevenson

Shadow prisons minister Alan Duncan has been cleared of breaching expenses rules by the Commons’ standards and privileges committee.

The Rutland and Melton MP faced accusations of attempting to claim mortgage interest payments on a home that he already owned.

Mr Duncan’s claims he had acted within the rules were upheld by the standards and privileges committee today.

The parliamentary commissioner for standards, John Lyon, told the committee in his submission: “Mr Duncan acted reasonably and fully within the rules of the House at the time, in the mortgage arrangements he made for his Rutland property.

“His mortgage interest costs were necessarily incurred to enable him to have a second home based in his constituency in order to fulfil his parliamentary duties.

“There is no evidence that Mr Duncan has wrongly benefited from the arrangement or otherwise acted in a way which was not consistent with the rules of the House at the time.”

The news will come as a relief for Mr Duncan after watching former ministers Jacqui Smith and Tony McNulty forced to apologise to the Commons for their expenses claims in recent weeks.

But the standards and privileges committee remains unhappy after Mr Duncan referred himself to the committee in a bid to clear his name.

“We will not allow the commissioner’s office to be used by members simply as a means of refuting unfounded allegations that appear in the press,” it stated.

Mr Duncan has already suffered considerably in the expenses scandal though after re-paying £4,000 in gardening claims.

Earlier this summer he was demoted from his shadow leader of the House role after being caught on camera claiming MPs were being forced to “live on rations”.