Expenses accusations hit pair's Speaker bid

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Indy Politics

A fresh twist in the race to become the next Speaker of the House of Commons emerged last night after two of the candidates vying for the role became the latest to face questions over their use of expenses.

John Bercow, the Tory MP for Buckingham, had emerged as the early front-runner. But in the latest round of expenses allegations published by The Daily Telegraph today, he is accused of "flipping" his property. Mr Bercow was said to have changed his allocated second home from a property in his constituency to a London flat, before claiming her maximum possible allowances on it. Mr Bercow could not be reached for comment last night.

Sir Alan Beith, a Liberal Democrat MP who had also thrown his hat into the ring, is accused of claimed £117,000 in second-home allowances. The Telegraph said that his wife, Baroness Maddock, also claimed £60,000 from the House of Lords expenses system for the same address. Sir Alan was also unavailable for comment.

Mr Bercow had gained the support of more than 100 MPs on his reformist agenda. He has said he would use the role to give backbenchers greater powers to scrutinise the actions of the Government. Other potential candidates have also been damaged by the scandal. Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, had been seen as a figure who could gain cross-party support, but was accused of spending £10,000 of taxpayers' money on an interior designer to renovate his London flat. Michael Martin's replacement will be elected on 22 June, with MPs voting by secret ballot for the first time.

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