Party whips face expenses focus
The focus in the row over MPs' expenses has shifted to claims made by the Labour and Conservative chief whips.
The Daily Telegraph has published details on expenses claimed by Labour's Nick Brown and the shadow chief whip, Patrick McLoughlin.
It says Mr Brown made claims totalling £87,708 over four years, including £18,800 for food, and Mr McLoughlin claimed £3,000 for new windows.
Both politicians say that they have done nothing wrong.
Mr Brown, MP for Newcastle East and Wallsend, has been at the centre of his party's efforts to contain the scandal, moving to suspend two Labour MPs accused of making claims for mortgage payments on "phantom loans".
The Telegraph says that Mr Brown's claims, which he made public himself a few days ago, totalled £87,708 between 2004 and 2008.
This included £18,800 for food, with regular claims of £400 per month during the recess. Until recently, MPs were able to claim up to £400 a month for food without providing receipts.
In 2004/5 and 2005/6, the paper says, Mr Brown submitted claims for £200 every month for "repairs" and £200 every month for "service and maintenance" as well as £250 per month for cleaning, without submitting any receipts.
On claims during recess Mr Brown said: "I spend the recess in my second home, against which I claim, working in my constituency and, for the last two years, carrying out my responsibilities as Minister for the Region."
BBC political correspondent Reeta Chakrabarti said Mr Brown had sought to pre-empt disclosure of his own expenses by publishing redacted information several days ago and was mounting a bullish defence of his behaviour.
Mr Brown told his local newspaper, the Newcastle Journal, that he claimed the "full amount" for subsistence costs but this had to be seen in the context of his responsibilities as chief whip and minister for the North East.
"I am working flat out for the people I represent," he told the paper, pointing out that he spent Monday to Thursday in London and Friday and Saturday in the North East on ministerial and constituency business, before returning to London on Sunday.
"The claims represented a contribution to the cost of my Newcastle home. It doesn't represent the full cost that I bear myself. When the system moved from un-receipted to receipted expenditure, I submitted receipts for everything I claimed."
From the BBC News website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8056591.stm