Brown to repay £12,415 in expenses

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to repay more than £12,000 in expenses for cleaning, gardening and maintenance at his second home, his office announced today.

The repayment came after auditor Sir Thomas Legg wrote to all MPs to highlight concerns which have arisen during his inquiry into expenses paid out over the past five years.

Sir Thomas said that any claim over £2,000 a year for cleaning or £1,000 for gardening is excessive and should be repaid.

So Mr Brown is to return £10,716.60 in relation to cleaning and £302.50 in the period 2004/05 to 2008/09.

The Prime Minister will also repay a £1,396 bill for painting and decorating from April 2006 that was inadvertently submitted twice, bringing the total to £12,415.10.

Mr Brown's adviser on the Ministerial Code, Sir Philip Mawer, has ruled that Mr Legg's findings do not amount to a breach, said the Prime Minister's office.

In a statement, Mr Brown's office said: "Mr Brown received a letter from Sir Thomas Legg this afternoon.

"Sir Thomas Legg has issued his provisional conclusions to MPs, asking for further information where necessary before concluding in December.

"Mr Brown has always supported this process and will co-operate fully and make the necessary repayment.

"Mr Brown's expenses have always been cleared by the House authorities as entirely consistent with the rules."

The statement added: "Mr Brown has written to all ministers urging them, where they are asked, to respond promptly and in full to any requests for further information and when the process is completed to make appropriate repayments.

"Mr Brown has always supported clearing up the problems associated with the failed system of the past.

"Sir Christopher Kelly will shortly recommend a completely new system and the establishment of the independent Parliamentary Standards Authority takes the setting and adjudication of allowances out of the hands of MPs so the problems of the past cannot happen again.

"Mr Brown looks forward to condemning the discredited old system to the history books."

And the statement said: "Sir Thomas Legg has deemed that, for cleaning, any claim in excess of £2,000 in any one year warrants repayment. He has included domestic cleaning, window cleaning, dry-cleaning and laundry in this category and has assessed over the five-year period this amounts to £10,716.60.

"Sir Thomas Legg has deemed that any claim in excess of £1,000 in any one year for gardening warrants repayment. He has assessed that over the five-year period this amounts to £302.50.

"The review also alerted Mr Brown to a bill for painting and decorating of £1,396 from April 2006 that was inadvertently assigned by error to two quarters. This was not spotted or adjusted by the House authorities at the time. Mr Brown has apologised for this inadvertent error."