10 May 2009

British PM under pressure over fresh expenses claims

3:21 pm on 10 May 2009

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government was under pressure on Sunday as new polls showed his party had lost yet more ground amid a scandal over claims made by MPs on expenses.

One survey pegged support for the ruling Labour Party at an all-time low, while another said a vast majority of Britons thought the row had damaged Mr Brown politically.

While all MPs have acted within parliamentary rules, the revelations of expenses claims ranging from chocolate to a sack of horse manure have sparked fury in Britain's media, who have heaped criticism on Mr Brown and his government for not reforming the rules sooner.

On Friday, the right-leaning Daily Telegraph began publishing a series of leaks about Labour MPs' expense claims that has tarnished the reputations of both cabinet and junior ministers.

The revelations over expenses continued to trickle out on Saturday with the paper offering more details on claims for thousands of pounds spent on second homes and personal security, to women's clothes, nappies and comics.

Other ministers claimed for home improvements, furnishings and work on their gardens.

In the latest set of leaked claims made by MPs, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that lawmakers with the republican Sinn Fein party in Northern Ireland claimed nearly 500,000 pounds for running a second home, despite never taking up their seats in the House of Commons.

Two Labour parliamentarians threatened to take legal action over the publication of the expense details on Saturday which they said were wholly inaccurate, but the paper plans to publish more details in coming days.

Members of parliament from all parties will be bracing themselves for criticism when full details of all expense claims going back to 2004 are published in July.