Maria Miller, culture secretary, has apologised to parliament after being ordered to repay £5,800 in excess expense claims and being criticised for failing to co-operate with a Commons investigation.
The Commons standards committee was particularly critical of Ms Miller’s failure to co-operate with them during the investigation, something it said was in breach of the MPs’ code of conduct.
Ms Miller told MPs: “The committee has recommended that I apologise to the house for my attitude towards the commissioner’s inquiry, and I, of course, unreservedly apologise.
“I fully accept the recommendations of the committee and thank them for bringing this matter to an end.” The apology lasted 31 seconds.
Ms Miller claimed more than £90,000 over the course of four years for mortgage repayments on a second home in London where her parents lived, payments the committee found were within the rules.
But the committee asked her to repay £5,800 of money that was overclaimed in error. Her allies say this happened because the culture secretary did not reduce her claims for the mortgage as interest rates fell.
Its report said: “If the commissioner had been able swiftly to establish the facts relating to Mrs Miller’s mortgages . . . this might have been a relatively minor matter. As we have set out, Mrs Miller has also breached the current code of conduct by her attitude to this inquiry. That is more serious.”
Downing Street on Thursday said Ms Miller had the prime minister’s full confidence, despite Labour calls for her to resign.
A Number 10 spokesman said: “She is accepting the committee’s report in full, she will apologise to the House. The Prime Minister is satisfied with the outcome.
“She explained the approach that she was going to be taking. The prime minister thinks that is absolutely the right one. What actually was happening is that he was offering her his full, strong, very warm support.”
But Labour’s John Mann said: “Maria Miller was today found to have acted in a way that is completely unacceptable for a minister.
“Not only must she now repay her expenses ‘overclaim’ but she was also forced to apologise to the House of Commons for showing a completely inappropriate attitude to the inquiry.”
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