British lawmakers in new clash over expenses

AP News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2012 2:03 PM
British lawmakers in new clash over expenses

LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers headed Thursday toward another clash over their expenses — three years after they were shamed by revelations that some had billed the public for items that included an ornamental duck house and pornographic movies.

House of Commons speaker John Bercow sent a letter to the IPSA, the authority responsible for reimbursing lawmakers, asking the agency not to disclose the identities of landlords who rent homes to legislators. The agency was going to publish the details following requests made under Freedom of Information laws but put that on hold following Bercow's appeal.

Bercow argued that the disclosures could expose lawmakers' addresses and cause a security risk — a concern since legislator Stephen Timms was stabbed by a woman in his office in 2010.

In Britain's 2009 lawmaker expenses scandal, one of the most damaging revelations was how lawmakers had manipulated housing rules to furnish or upgrade multiple homes. Six legislators were jailed following disclosures over the abuse of the expenses at the House of Commons and House of Lords.

The furor saw dozens of legislators quit and many others ousted at the 2010 election and damaged public trust in British politicians.

"The public's faith was left in tatters in 2009 and the latest allegations could endanger much of the work that has been done since then to restore public confidence in our politicians," said Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers' Alliance, a group that campaigns for low taxes.