Front-runners stumble in the race for Speaker

Claims for second homes return to haunt candidates to succeed Michael Martin

The battle to become the next Commons Speaker has been thrown open after leading candidates for the chair were hit by allegations over their expenses. Three of the front-runners to succeed Michael Martin – Sir Alan Beith, John Bercow and Sir George Young – faced questions over their second-home claims.

There is no suggestion they broke parliamentary rules, but the disclosures could make it harder for them to present themselves as the right person to clean up the discredited expenses system.

Sir Alan, the longest-serving Liberal Democrat MP, hit back yesterday after information that he and his peer wife both took parliamentary expenses while staying at the same address. He received £117,000 to cover rent on a flat in London between 2000 and 2008, and his wife, Baroness Maddock, received £60,000 in overnight allowances.

Sir Alan said there was nothing wrong with the arrangement, because he and his wife split their rent payments. He said: "It would be quite wrong for the taxpayer to pay twice for the same costs, so we have shared the costs."

The Berwick-upon-Tweed MP also defended expenses claims which he submitted for a new kitchen worth £5,457. He said: "The kitchen had had no work done on it since the 1960s, the cupboards were falling apart and the appliances, which were second-hand when acquired, were not energy-efficient."

Mr Bercow, a Conservative MP considered an early front-runner for the job, allegedly "flipped" his second home from his Buckingham constituency to a £540,000 flat in London and claimed the maximum possible allowances for the past four years. He told The Daily Telegraph that he changed his second-home designation from London to Buckingham when his son started school in the capital. Sir George, a veteran Tory MP, was said to have put a total of £127,159 in second-home expenses on his London flat between 2001 and 2008, claiming the maximum allowance on the property over the past two years. He spent £699 on a washer-dryer and £449 on a dishwasher, although both claims were cut by the Fees Office. Sir George, who employs his daughter, Camilla, as his office manager, also neglected to claim a council-tax discount to which he was entitled, instead charging the taxpayer for the full amount.

Two other potential candidates for the job – Sir Alan Haselhurst and Sir Menzies Campbell – have also been hit by controversy over their claims. Only Labour MP Frank Field – one of the Commons' lowest claimants – appears to have emerged unscathed.

A dark horse for the job, the former shadow Home Secretary David Davis, claimed more than £10,000 for home improvements, including a £5,700 portico for his Yorkshire house. The shock departure of Mr Martin this week has left a wide potential field to replace him with several senior MPs mulling over their chances of winning the contest, decided by secret ballot on 22 June.

Order order: The allegations – and the odds

*John Bercow, Tory MP for Buckingham

Expenses "Flipped" second home, maximum claims for the property.

Odds: 3/1



*Frank Field, Labour MP, Birkenhead

Expenses One of the lowest claimants, charging less than half the maximum.

Odds: 5/1



*Sir George Young, Tory MP for Hants North West

Expenses Claimed maximum allowance on London flat. Failed to get council- tax discount.

Odds: 11/2



*Sir Alan Beith, Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed

Expenses Both he and peeress wife claimed on the same London home and refurbished their kitchen on expenses.

Odds: 7/1



*Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat MP for Fife North East

Expenses Spent almost £10,000 refurbishing flat; has repaid the designer's £1,490 fee.

Odds: 20/1



*Sir Alan Haselhurst, Deputy Speaker and Tory MP for Saffron Walden

Expenses Charged nearly £12,000 for gardening bills and £638 for repairs to patio.

Odds: 20/1



(All odds supplied by Ladbrokes)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
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