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MPs' expenses scandal: the timeline

Press Association
Wednesday 03 February 2010 16:37 GMT

The results of Sir Thomas Legg's review of MPs' expenses will finally be published tomorrow.

Here is how the expenses scandal grew to dominate the headlines over the past few years.


January - The Freedom of Information Act 2000 comes into effect. Requests for details of MPs' expenses are filed soon afterwards by campaigner Heather Brooke and reporters Ben Leapman and Jon Ungoed-Thomas.

April - Their requests are rejected by the Commons authorities and appeals are sent to Information Commissioner Richard Thomas.

September - Mr Thomas asks to view data to evaluate whether it should be released.


July - Parliament complies with the Information Commissioner's request to view data.


February 13 - Rulings by Mr Thomas and the Information Tribunal require the Commons to publish a breakdown of MPs' travel expenses.

June 15 - Mr Thomas rules that the public has a right to know broad details of MPs' spending on second homes, but blocks disclosure of a full itemised list on privacy grounds.


January 22 - The House of Commons is ordered by the Information Commissioner to release a detailed breakdown of expenses claimed by six MPs including Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessor Tony Blair.

January 28 - Conservative MP Derek Conway is suspended for 10 days and ordered to apologise to the Commons after the Standards and Privileges Committee finds he "misused" parliamentary expenses to employ his son.

February 26 - The Information Tribunal rules in favour of the disclosure of details of expenses claims, ordering the Commons to publish documentation relating to 14 MPs within 28 days.

March 13 - Publication of the so-called "John Lewis list" reveals that MPs are allowed to claim up to £10,000 for a new kitchen, more than £6,000 for a bathroom and £750 for a television on parliamentary allowances.

March 25 - The Commons authorities announce a legal appeal against the Information Tribunal's ruling.

April 1 - The new system for registration of MPs' employment of relatives at taxpayers' expense comes into operation.

April 4 - The Commons authorities publish limited details of expense claims from a handful of MPs and former MPs, including Mr Brown, Mr Blair and John Prescott.

May 16 - The House of Commons loses its High Court battle against disclosure of MPs' expenses.

May 19 - The Members Estimate Committee announces it will not appeal over the High Court decision and begins preparing a mass of documentation for eventual release.

May 23 - Further details - including receipts and invoices - are revealed of the expenses of the 14 MPs and ex-MPs.

July 3 - MPs throw out a series of proposed expenses reforms, reject calls for independent scrutiny of their allowances and hold on to the "John Lewis List".


January 21 - The Government drops a motion to exempt Parliament from key parts of the Freedom of Information Act which could prevent details of MPs' expenses being revealed.

February 7 - Home Secretary Jacqui Smith insists she has done nothing wrong by claiming taxpayer-funded allowances for a second home while living with her sister.

March 23 - Sir Christopher Kelly, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, announces an inquiry into MPs' expenses, to report after the election.

March 31 - Sir Christopher says he will bring forward the inquiry to report later this year.

April 21 - Mr Brown uses a video on YouTube to announce proposals for reform, including scrapping the second home allowance and replacing it with a flat-rate attendance fee.

April 30 - MPs agree to piecemeal reforms of their expenses but only after forcing a Government climbdown over the proposal to scrap the second homes allowance.

May 8 - The Daily Telegraph prints the first in a series of extracts from leaked computer discs containing the Commons' authorities documentation of MPs' second home claims.

Over the next few weeks, daily reports in the paper put the spotlight on dozens of different MPs, revealing practices such as "flipping" homes to maximise claims and the avoidance of capital gains tax by changing the designation of second homes.

May 11 - Mr Brown offers a public apology on behalf of all MPs for the parliamentary expenses scandal.

May 12 - David Cameron announces he was "sorry for the actions of some Conservative MPs - people are right to be angry".

May 18 - Tory backbench MP Douglas Carswell tables a motion of no confidence in Speaker Michael Martin over his handling of the expenses row.

Mr Martin comes under unprecedented pressure in the Commons after telling MPs he is "profoundly sorry" and the public had been let down "very badly indeed".

May 19 - Speaker Martin announces he will stand down and unveils new rules on allowances, pending recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Mr Brown pledges to bring in external regulators to oversee pay and allowances and orders an audit by Sir Thomas Legg of all MPs' second-home claims over the past four years.

May 27 - Labour's new "Star Chamber" disciplinary panel begins considering cases against MPs accused of exploiting expenses.

June 2 - Ms Smith reveals she will stand down as Home Secretary at a reshuffle - the first of a series of ministers to quit over a few days as Labour plunges to resounding defeat in local and European elections.

June 16 - Opening the Committee on Standards in Public Life's first evidence session on expenses reform, chairman Sir Christopher Kelly accuses MPs of exploiting expenses "for personal gain".

June 17 - Mr Martin attacks MPs for failing to heed warnings over expenses as he makes his last appearance as Speaker.

June 18 - MPs' expenses claims are published by the House of Commons, with many details blacked out.

June 19 - Scotland Yard announces that a small number of MPs and peers face criminal investigations over their claims.

June 23 - The Government publishes its Parliamentary Standards Bill, which is rushed through Parliament in less than a month to become law on July 21. The legislation removes MPs' right to set their own allowances and establishes a new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority to administer pay and expenses and a Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations to probe alleged breaches of the rules.

June 25 - An internal inquiry into Conservative MPs' expense claims leads to the repayment of £125,000.

September 25 - The Daily Telegraph reveals it paid £110,000 for the expenses files to a "mole", who said he was motivated by the plight of British troops.

October 12 - Sir Thomas Legg sends letters to all MPs, spelling out how much money he expects them to repay following his audit. Mr Brown immediately agrees to repay more than £12,000 and urges ministers to follow his lead.

Sir Thomas sparks anger among MPs who claim it is unfair for him to impose retrospective limits on cleaning and gardening expenses.

November 3 - Sir Ian Kennedy appointed as chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

November 4 - Sir Christopher Kelly's Committee on Standards in Public Life publishes its review of Commons expenses, including recommendations that MPs should not be able to claim for mortgage interest, "golden goodbyes" should be slashed, and that they should be banned from employing family members.

December 10 - Commons publishes hundreds of thousands more receipts from MPs' expenses claims in 2008-9.

December 17 - Eighty MPs signal their intention to appeal against Sir Thomas's demands for repayment of expenses, with former Appeal Court Judge Sir Paul Kennedy to make the final decision.


January - MPs learn the results of their appeals. Many start coming forward saying they have had repayment orders overturned, or significantly reduced. Tory backbencher Bernard Jenkin, whose original £63,250 repayment was thought to have been the highest, says it has been more than halved to £36,250 on appeal.

February 1 - A survey suggests that at least a quarter of the MPs who appealed have been partially or completely successful.

February 4 - The ruling Commons Members Estimates Committee publishes the findings of the Legg process, along with details of how much has been repaid by MPs since last April.

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