McNulty told to repay £14,000 of expenses

Tony McNulty, former employment minister, had to make a humiliating apology in the Commons after claiming expenses on a property occupied rent-free by his parents.

He was also ordered to pay back almost £14,000 to the taxpayer following an investigation into his use of expenses by Westminster's sleaze watchdog. In a statement to Parliament yesterday, he said he accepted the punishment "with no complaint" and apologised "without reservation".

It comes just two weeks after Jacqui Smith, the former Home Secretary, had to apologise to colleagues for wrongly designating her family home as her second home, allowing her to claim expenses on it.

The Commons Standards and Privileges Committee said that the taxpayer had been effectively subsidising the living costs of Mr McNulty's parents and the Harrow East MP had rarely used his designated "second home", which was just eight miles from his main family home in Hammersmith, west London. Mr McNulty had claimed for the Harrow property from 2002 until 2008, spending around 60 nights a year at the address. That fell to 33 nights in the last nine months of last year.

The investigation concluded that Mr McNulty had not broken the rules but it found that he should only have claimed for the costs incurred from his time spent there. As a result, the committee of MPs said that he had claimed for costs that were "not wholly and exclusively incurred in connection with his parliamentary duties", and ordered him to repay £13,837. He will now face a battle to hold on to the constituency at the next election. He won a majority of 4,740 in 2005.

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