Expenses scandal claims more victims - but huge payouts await

The expenses scandal claimed further victims last night with the announcement that two Conservative MPs – Sir Peter Viggers and Anthony Steen – will resign their seats at the next election. Sir Peter will step down as MP for Gosport in Hampshire "at the direct request" of David Cameron after spending tens of thousands of pounds on gardening, including a £1,645 bill for a floating "duck island", while Mr Steen, the MP for Totnes in Devon who claimed £87,729 on his luxurious country house, will also leave the Commons.

The future of a third leading Conservative, Bill Wiggin, was also in doubt after The Daily Telegraph claimed that the Conservative whip – a contemporary of Mr Cameron's at Eton – claimed £11,000 in interest payments for a property without a mortgage. He insisted he had not profited and had made "an administrative error", but he could join Labour's "phantom mortage" MPs Elliot Morley and David Chaytor in facing possible criminal proceedings.

Mr Wiggin, the MP for Leominster in Herefordshire, filed for the expenses after declaring that his constituency property was his second home. He stressed yesterday that he meant to claim for his London residence instead.

Public anger at the conduct of MPs is likely to be exacerbated by the news that any MP forced to quit over the expenses scandal will be in line for pay-offs of more than £100,000 and pensions of up to £30,000 a year.

Tory MP Douglas Hogg, who submitted a bill for cleaning his moat, has already announced his retirement, while three Labour MPs – Mr Morley, Mr Chaytor and Margaret Moran, who claimed £22,500 on expenses to treat dry rot at her "second home" over 100 miles from her Luton constituency, will be summoned next week to a disciplinary panel to defend their claims. Gordon Brown has warned that no MP who has "defied the rules" on expenses will be allowed to stand at the next election.

MPs embroiled in the scandal remain entitled to two pay-offs so long as they serve until the general election, rather than resign immediately. All MPs who step down, or are defeated, at an election are paid a "resettlement grant" designed to compensate for loss of salary. It ranges between six months' and one year's pay depending on age and length of service in the Commons.

An MP aged between 55 and 64 who has been in Parliament for 15 years will be paid a year's salary – £64,766 at current rates. The first £30,000 is tax-free. In addition, all MPs can claim a maximum of £40,799 for "winding-up costs" to pay off staff and end office leases. Politicians also benefit from a generous final salary pension scheme heavily subsidised by the taxpayer.

* Two Labour peers, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn, have been suspended from the Lords for six months after being found guilty of offering to amend laws for cash – the first time such a sanction has been used in more than 350 years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Pre-Press / Mac Operator / Artworker - Digital & Litho Print

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: With year on year growth and a reputation for ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Live Virtual Training / Events

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Manager is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003