Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke resigned on Wednesday as the Conservative Culture Secretary. She was accused of claiming £90,000 in expenses towards mortgage payments for her second home in south London for four years. This was published in the Daily Telegraph in 2010 with the Telegraph claiming that Mrs Miller’s actions were breaching the rules for parliamentary allowances. These rules were implemented in 2010 after the wake of the MPs expenses scandal where MPs were banned from claiming mortgage interest on second homes, with tax-payer’s money. The MPs expenses scandal was made public in 2009 after a campaign by freedom campaigners using the Freedom of Information Act 2000 that allowed citizens to enquire about the expenses of MPs.
An enquiry into Mrs Miller’s expenses by Katheryn Hudson, Parliamentary Commissioner concluded that she over-claimed £45,000 and Mrs Miller must repay this exact sum. To complicate matters further, the commissioner is only able to recommend complaints and cannot enforce them. This is the role of the Commons Committee for Standards (made up of MPs), which decided that Mrs Miller only needed to pay back £5,800 for over-claiming mortgage expenses and apologise to Parliament for her misconduct.
The 32-second apology from Mrs Miller to Parliament has sparked concerns and criticisms from many newspapers and the general public as her robust tone did not indicate that she had actually ‘fully’ accepted the consequences of her actions. The lack of contrition on Mrs Miller’s part echoes the disillusionment felt by many voters in the last parliament but also the feeling politicians are elitist and out of touch. After weeks of criticism and the PM backing her, Miller finally resigned after she felt the matter was a distraction from government work.
Maria Miller’s expenses row will mean the Conservative party may suffer in the run up to the European elections. UKIP stride forward with Conservative voters defecting to UKIP. Nigel Farage, UKIP leader loves distancing himself from the ‘Westminster Village’.
Examples: Use for unit1 Democracy and unit 2 PM & Cabinet – as an example of individual ministerial responsibility and reshuffles.