How do you solve a problem like Maria? The buzz in Parliament last week was not about David Cameron’s tax breaks for small businesses, but all media was focused on Culture Secretary Maria Miller, over allegations of expense fiddling. In December 2012, Mrs Miller claimed £90,718 in expenses over a four-year period. This was applied towards mortgage payments on a house in south London that she shared with her immediate family and her parents. This, one would think was a breach of the 2010 rules on parliamentary allowances which allows MPs to claim back mortgage interest and other costs associated with having a second home. Was this her primary residance? Questions have also been raised about whether Ms Miller who bought the home herself with an offset mortgage, should have reduced her mortgage claims, as interest rates fell.
Ms Miller has now apologised to Parliament for what she described as an ‘administrative error’. Standard’s Committee member Kathryn Hudson In her report, cleared the MP of making false expenses claims, the most serious charge against the Minister. Miller stated that her parents had not benefited financially from the arrangements, in relation to her second home. But added that Mrs Miller had claimed £45,000 over and above the allocation, on her personal expenses, which included mortgage interest payments and council tax on what appears to be her core family home in London. Hudson recommended that the MP should repay the sum of £45,000, however it has now for some inexplicable reason been reduced to £5800.
The Culture Secretary unconvincingly, in too few words apologised to Parliment after a committee found her attitude to the inquiry into her expenses a breach of the code of conduct. The pressure is now on for the unpopular MP to resign. Yesterday the powerful Tory grandee Lord Tebbit, a former Conservative Party Chairman, called for Mrs Miller’s resignation. He also referred to her as arrogant