David Cameron explains decision on Alan Duncan

David Cameron today said he kicked Alan Duncan out of his top team after "reflecting" on his claim that MPs were being forced to live "on rations".

But the Tory leader insisted that Mr Duncan agreed it was right for him to make way for veteran Sir George Young.



"I had some time to think about it over the summer and parliament will be coming back soon," Mr Cameron told Sky News.



"One of the most important things I have to do is just make sure all the time and think all the time, have I got the right people in the right posts as a strong opposition and as an alternative government?



"On that basis, I came to the decision that that it was right - and Alan agreed actually - it was right for him to move from that job to another job outside the Shadow Cabinet, but an important job in terms of dealing with the nation's prisons."



Mr Duncan's move to shadow prisons minister represents the end of eight years' constant service in the shadow cabinet - the last nine months as shadow leader of the House.



The Conservative leader has faced calls to sack the Rutland and Melton MP since last month, when he was covertly filmed by campaigner Heydon Prowse.



Asked why people would no longer want to become MPs, Mr Duncan said: "Basically, it's being nationalised, you have to live on rations and are treated like s***."



His remarks were particularly embarrassing because his job meant he led the party on reform of the system of MPs' expenses and allowances.



Controversy has surrounded Mr Duncan since the Daily Telegraph revealed he claimed around £4,000 for gardening at his constituency home over three years, including £598 to service his ride-on lawnmower.



It is understood that he was forced to pay back more than £5,000 by Mr Cameron.



Last night Mr Duncan said it was a "sensible decision", adding: "You have to be realistic about how difficult the expenses issue has been.



"What matters most is winning the election and David Cameron becoming the Prime Minister.



"I don't want to be a brake on that by making a difficult issue more problematic. I am very happy to get stuck into another job."



One of the longest-serving Tory MPs, Sir George entered Parliament in 1974 and served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, rising to Transport Secretary. He was previously shadow Commons leader under William Hague, but left the front benches in 2000 to mount the first of two unsuccessful campaigns to become Speaker.



The North West Hampshire MP has most recently been chairman of the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee, which acts as an internal watchdog overseeing MPs' behaviour, but he has not been at the forefront of demands for reform of expenses.



Mr Duncan takes over as shadow justice minister from Edward Garnier, who has now been appointed shadow attorney general.



That position was previously held by shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve, who had both jobs.





Labour former minister Denis MacShane pointed out that Sir George was an Old Etonian like Mr Cameron, and accused the Tory leader of favouring "public school millionaires".



"Cameron has done too little, too late - why has he dithered for three weeks?" he said. "And if Alan Duncan's not fit to be on the frontbench then why not sack him?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border