Maria Miller expenses row: Cameron insists Culture Secretary has nothing to resign over

But PM admits expenses rules need changing

Deputy Political Editor

David Cameron mounted a fresh defence of Maria Miller today as the embattled Culture Secretary faced fresh claims about her finances.

The Prime Minister has been confronted with calls from within the Conservative Party to fire her from the Cabinet after she was ordered to repay nearly £6,000 of taxpayer-funded mortgage claims.

Her plight has been worsened by anger over a perfunctory Commons apology last week lasting barely 30 seconds.

During a visit today to a south London supermarket, Mr Cameron was challenged over polling which showed most Tories believed she should be sacked.

He said: “What matters is doing the right thing. I think Maria has done the right thing by repaying the money, making an apology and now getting on with her job.

“We ought to remember she was found innocent of the claim that was levelled at her at the start of this process. I think that is important to bear in mind.”

Asked if she was still in her job because she was a state-educated woman, he replied: “Maria Miller is in her job because she is doing a good job as Culture Secretary.”

It was reported today that Mrs Miller stopped claiming a second home allowance just as officials asked her to confirm she would pay tax when the property was sold.

By re-designating the house she shared with her parents in south London as her main residence, she would not have to pay capital gains tax at 28 per cent when it was sold for a £1m profit.

The spokeswoman for Mrs Miller said: “It is well documented that Maria stopped claiming any accommodation allowance at all in April 2009.

”The sale of the Wimbledon property in February falls in a tax year that has not yet been assessed. She will of course deal with the matter in accordance with HM Revenue and Customs rules and pay any tax that is due.”

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron said he was “very open” to suggestions over ways in which the system of how MPs police themselves.

Calls for a fresh look at it came after the Common Standards Committee of MPs overruled the independent Standards Commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, who recommended Mrs Miller repaid £45,000 in expenses for her south London home.

It cut her repayment to £5,800, prompting accusations that MPs could not properly hold each other to account.

Mr Cameron said: “If there are further changes that people think are appropriate, I'm very open to suggestions.”

A Conservative ministerial aide, Nicola Blackwood, added to the pressure on Mrs Miller, saying she faced ““most serious” questions and her response could have been “clearer”.

Ms Blackwood said: “The questions which she is being faced with are of the most serious and I have to say when I deal with my expenses I am as transparent as I can be, it’s all up on my website.

“I have to say if I was faced with the kind of questions that she is faced with I would be really quite worried indeed.

“I only know what has been reported in the papers... but clearly it’s very unhelpful for this to drag on in the way that it is,” she told BBC Radio Oxford.

Labour has made a formal complaint to Kevin Barron, chairman of the standards committee, about the way Mrs Miller apologised for failing to cooperate fully with Ms Hudson's investigation.

The backbench MP Sheila Gilmore said: “This was inadequate to the point of being contemptuous of your Committee’s report and the Members’ Code of Conduct.”

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links