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MP leads revolt on expenses; Field is first to lodge appeal.

Byline: IAN HERNON

BIRKENHEAD MP Frank Field is spearheading a Parliamentary revolt against "retrospective" demands for expenses paybacks.

The former welfare minister lodged the first appeal against auditor Sir Thomas Legg's cap on gardening and cleaning expenses claims.

He put in a formal notice to Sir Paul Kennedy, the retired High Court judge charged with considering appeals.

The chief issue is Sir Thomas' demand for cash-back of up to pounds 7,000 for expenses claimed in the four years before the rules were changed in response to the Parliamentary "sleaze" scandal.

Sir Thomas yesterday sent the members' estimates committee a damning verdict on the "abuse" of expenses and allowances.

An estimated 250 MPs, a third of the total, are facing payback demands totalling pounds 1m. But 80 MPs are considering appeals, not because of duck islands or mortgage flipping but because more mundane claims are back-dated.

It emerged today that most had taken their cue from Mr Field, who is regarded as "incorruptible".

Mr Field was the first MP to voluntarily put his Parliamentary claims online, before the expenses row erupted, and the first to appeal.

Mr Field said: "It is one thing to target real abuses of the system but Legg did not look at that.

"Instead he made arbitrary rulings on housekeeping bills.

"To change the rules and then demand retrospective payments is just unfair.

"It's as if you drive every day through a 40 mph zone, the limit is dropped to 30 mph, and you then get fined for every previous day."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2009
Words:255
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