18 Jun 2009

And now, 1.2 million pages of every last expense claim

9:18 pm on 18 June 2009

Full details of British MPs' expenses have been officially published online for the first time after weeks of leaked newspaper revelations that have forced a slew of resignations.

The roughly 1.2 million pages of documents on Parliament's website are not likely to throw up many fresh surprises, not least because the Daily Telegraph newspaper has already published swathes of leaked information showing how MPs claimed lavishly for everything from a duck island to moat-cleaning.

However, large sections of the information put online on Thursday have been blacked out, including MPs' addresses, prompting criticism from some voters and campaigners for transparency.

It's just over a year since the High Court ordered that the claims should be disclosed, following a lengthy legal battle by freedom-of-information campaigners.

There goes another one: junior minister resigns

Earlier, another British government minister has resigned in the wake of a scandal over MPs' claims for expenses. Ten other ministers have already stepped down.

The latest casualty, junior Treasury minister Kitty Ussher, was forced to quit by Prime Minister Gordon Brown after the leak of a letter showing she changed the designation of her main home for a month in order to avoid paying capital gains tax of about $44,000.

While not illegal, this is seen as unacceptable behaviour - especially for a Treasury minister.

Ms Ussher - who had previously said she would not stand at the next general election - denied she had done anything wrong but said she was resigning to save the government embarrassment.