UK Politics

Former Speaker Betty Boothroyd annoyed by 'greedy' MPs

Baroness Boothroyd
Image caption Baroness Boothroyd said MPs disgraced themselves and Parliament

Baroness Boothroyd, former speaker of the Commons, says that MPs who abused the expenses system "disgraced" Parliament.

In a rare comment by an ex-speaker, she told the BBC that she found the scandal about allowances "very distressing".

She said some MPs had abused a system that had been very generous to them, bringing Parliament into disrepute.

One MP has been jailed and one has pleaded guilty to dishonestly claiming expenses.

Baroness Boothroyd told BBC Radio Four's The World This Weekend: "There's no question about it, there's no answer to it other than people were greedy and they took advantage of a system.

"That is what happened. And they disgraced themselves.

"What annoys me is that they disgraced the Parliament that I have tried all my life to cherish and fought hard for."

Expenses system

The latest MP to fall foul of the law - Labour member Eric Illsley - is to quit his constituency after pleading guilty last week to dishonestly claiming parliamentary expenses.

The MP for Barnsley Central had come under pressure to step down after admitting £14,000 of expenses fraud.

Mr Illsley's case followed the imprisonment of David Chaytor for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to dishonestly claiming expenses.

Lady Boothroyd also said it was disgraceful that the expenses system had been allowed to evolve in the way it did after she left the speaker's chair in 2000.

The expenses scandal erupted in 2009 when claims for expensive TVs and furniture emerged alongside stories about MPs who claimed for more than one property by "flipping" their designated second home, or did not pay capital gains tax on sales of second homes or over-claimed for mortgages.

The government has since reformed the system.

Meanwhile, a serving Labour MP has reported six parliamentary colleagues - including two former cabinet ministers - to police over alleged abuse of expenses, according to the Sunday Times.

The newspaper says the politicians against whom the complaints have been made include two Labour MPs, two Conservatives and two Liberal Democrats.

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