The controversy over alleged breaches of Westminster allowances looks set to escalate after it emerged that a further Midlands MP is under investigation by the Parliamentary sleaze watchdog, while Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon became the latest Cabinet minister to face questions over second home claims.
Cabinet Office Minister Liam Byrne, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, is under formal investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards into misuse of Commons’ stationery.
The revelation, in the Sunday Mercury yesterday, takes to three the number of Cabinet ministers now under investigation by the sleaze watchdog for alleged breaches of their Westminister allowances.
Fellow Midland MP and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Employment Minister Tony McNulty are being probed over use of the controversial second-home allowance.
And Ms Smith, who represents Redditch, is also being investigated by another watchdog over her husband Richard Timney’s expenses’ claim for adult movies.
A spokeswoman for the Commissioner confirmed that a complaint had been lodged against Mr Byrne. An initial assessment had been carried out, leading the Commissioner John Lyon to launch a full inquiry.
Asked about the criteria for launching probes, she added: “The Commissioner does not agree to conduct a formal inquiry unless the complainant has supplied enough evidence to justify an investigation.”