03/04/2014

Maria Miller To Repay Expenses Claim

Culture Secretary Maria Miller has been ordered to repay £5,800 by the Commons Committee on Standards. Mrs Miller has also been told to apologise to MPs.

While she was cleared of the main charge of deliberately submitting expenses to which she was not entitled, the Committee said her attitude to the inquiry breached that of the ministers' code of conduct.

In a report, the £5,800 Mrs Miller is to repay is to cover over-claiming of mortgage expenses after she failed to cut her claims when interest rates fell.

An investigation into Mrs Miller's claims was launched following a formal complaint in December 2012 from Labour MP John Mann. It came on the back of reports that the Culture Minister had allowed her parents to live in a property on which she claimed £90,718 in second home allowances between 2005 and 2009. The committee denied reports, however, that she or her parents had benefited financially from the arrangements.

"There can be no criticism of [Mrs Miller] in relation to her personal, caring responsibilities and her desire to combine these with the role of an elected representative," it said.

In its findings, the committee said: "If the Commissioner had been able swiftly to establish the facts relating to Mrs Miller's mortgages, and had been able to gather the documentation which would have allowed her (and has allowed us) to judge the relationship between the changes in bank base rate and the interest charged to Mrs Miller, this might have been a relatively minor matter."

However, it explained that the investigation had been troubled with "delay and difficulty", arising from "incomplete documentation and fragmentary information".

"Mrs Miller has to carry significant responsibility for that," it continued. "Officials would press her for information and the information that was provided appears to have been the minimum necessary."

Addressing the Commons earlier today, Mrs Miller said: "The committee has recommended that I apologise to the House for my attitude to the commissioner's inquiries, and I of course unreservedly apologise.

"I fully accept the recommendations of the committee and thank them for bringing this matter to an end."

(JP/MH)

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