11pm ToryDiary: Michael Gove is far from a villain in expenses-gate

10.45pm WATCH: The report about the Tory expenses allegations on the BBC 10 O'Clock News features a clip of David Cameron's apology

Picture 48.15pm ToryDiary: The Telegraph expenses investigation turns its attention to the Tories Updated at 8.45pm with first story about Alan Duncan's gardening bill; and at 9.45pm with the front page of tomorrow's Telegraph; and at 10.15pm after David Cameron made a statement; and at 10.30pm with more on Michael Gove, Andrew Lansley, Francis Maude, David Willetts, Cheryl Gillan and Chris Grayling.

5.15pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Meet the MP whose accommodation costs the taxpayer £750 a night

4.15pm WATCH: William Hague urges voters in Gibraltar to support the Conservative Party at the European election

3.30pm Seats and Candidates: Chicken Watch – Another Labour MP announces his retirement

12.15pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Poland's Law and Justice Party rebuts Denis MacShane's smears

11am WATCH: Sky News's two-minute round up of the MPs' expenses allegations in the Sunday papers

10.15am ToryDiary: Is Tory HQ fearing what the Telegraph has in store next week? Updated at 11.30am after further TV appearances by Liam Fox and Theresa May

DUNCAN SMITH AITW10am ToryDiary: How David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith made social conservatism fashionable again

ToryDiary: David Cameron expands on how he would seek positive engagement with the SNP-run Scottish executive

Earl Howe on Platform: Prohibiting displays of tobacco products will hit small businesses hard and do little – if anything – to improve public health

Local Government:


GRAY AT GATE Tory MP James Gray under fire for claiming £60 on expenses for Remembrance Day wreaths…

"Top Tory MP James Gray is exposed today as a greedy skinflint after claiming for Remembrance Day wreaths on expenses. Astonishingly when this perk was finally stopped he had the nerve to complain to the Leader of the House… In a shocking twist on the scandal surrounding MPs' outrageous expenses claims, onetime Tory whip Gray moaned he was £60 down on the deal after buying three poppy tributes to Britain's fallen heroes to place at war memorials in his North Wiltshire constituency." – News of the World

> Last night's ToryDiary: James Gray shames the Conservative Party

…as Day Three of the Telegraph expenses investigation has revelations about a new raft of politicians

  • Former Environment Minister John Gummer claimed more than £9,000 a year in gardening expenses over a four-year period – including £100 to rid his lawn of moles in one year alone. The senior Tory claimed hundreds of pounds to tackle wildlife on his Suffolk country home, with bills to remove jackdaw nests, combat insect infestations and an annual ‘rodent service’ contract.  His claims make a mockery of Commons rules which state that an MP should only recoup costs essential to their parliamentary duties. (Link is to Mail on Sunday as the story does not appear to be on the Telegraph website)    
  • Absent Sinn Fein MPs have milked the Parliamentary second-home expenses system for nearly £500,000… The five MPs, who represent the political wing of the IRA, have not even taken up their Parliamentary seats and yet they have rented three London properties from the same family at rates well above the market norm. 
  • Tony Blair is facing fresh questions over how he funded his multi-million-pound property empire
  • Kitty Ussher, a junior minister, wrote a letter asking if she could put a full re-fit of her run-down Victorian house on her House of Commons expenses

The Telegraph website has more on this page dedicated to its expenses stories

> Last night's ToryDiary: Open thread on Sunday Telegraph revelations

Taxman to investigate MPs' profits from home sales

"The crisis over parliamentary expenses reached new heights last night as it emerged that HM Revenue and Customs is to investigate whether MPs have deliberately evaded capital gains tax when selling their second homes. News of an inquiry by tax officials, which follows days of leaks about the way MPs have exploited the Commons' allowances regime for private gain, will inflict further damage on the already battered reputation of parliament." – The Observer

Commons Fees Office chief has no accountancy qualificationMail on Sunday

The commentariat lashes out at MPs trying to defend their expense claims

"The Labour Party promised us a new era of fair play, but they have treated the parliamentary rulebook as if it were a daisy-chain of loopholes" – Matthew d"Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph

Rawnsley Andrew "No wonder Parliament put up such a protracted and bitter struggle to try to keep all this hidden from the voters. They should stop whingeing about the Daily Telegraph's drip feed of revelations from a leaked disc. MPs themselves ­created the black market in the information about their claims by trying to conceal what they had been doing for so long." – Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer

"Brown's one attempt to take control of the issue, his abortive YouTube reforms last month, was much too late and too clumsy to have a chance of recovering the situation." – John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday

"I still remember politicians who had principles" – Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph

…as a former Archbishop of Canterbury asks: How can we ever trust an MP again?

"It is not just the clawing greed of painstaking claims for such minor items as
tampons, barbecue sets and bathrobes, but also the egregious way some have
transferred allowances from one second property to another-enabling them to
refurbish homes at public expense then sell at a profit. The latest revelations show it was not just a few MPs with their noses in the
trough, but a culture of abuse. While their constituents are suffering from
the credit crunch and many are out of work, they've had access to unrivalled
funds. And they've made the fullest possible use of them with no sense of obligation
to the public whose taxes foot their bills." – Lord Carey writing in the News of the World

New opinion polls make grim reading for Labour

"The MPs' expenses scandal has helped to drive support for Labour to the lowest level since opinion polls began in 1943, a devastating new survey has revealed. A BPIX poll for The Mail on Sunday says the party is supported by just 23 per cent of voters, a stunning 22 points behind the Conservatives' figure of 45 per cent. The Lib Dems were on 17." – Mail on Sunday

"A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times puts the Tories on 43%, up two points on last month, with Labour down seven on 27% and the Liberal Democrats up two on 18%. It predicts Labour will get barely more than a fifth of the vote in European parliament elections, also to be held on June 4." – Sunday Times

> Last night's ToryDiary on the opinion polls in today's papers

David Cameron outside Stafford Hospital David Cameron makes threat to withdraw backing on Royal Mail vote

"Gordon Brown's mounting difficulties over cabinet disloyalty and expenses deepened last night as David Cameron warned that he is ready to join Labour rebels and defeat the Government over part-privatisation of the Royal Mail. In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, the Tory leader says he will back the legislation only if it is not watered down with concessions to buy off Labour backbenchers." – Independent on Sunday

Read the full Independent on Sunday interview with David Cameron here

Tory tax breaks for marriage may not be universal

"David Cameron is preparing to limit his offer of tax breaks for
married couples to those on lower incomes. The Conservative leader is
said to believe that cutting tax for anyone other than the poorest in
society is unacceptable in a recession and that he must show he is not
simply helping the middle classes. By raising the tax-free threshold
for married people by £5,000 but abolishing tax credits entirely for
those earning more than £50,000, the Tories will recognise marriage in
the tax system but effectively limit the effect of the married couple's
tax allowance to poorer families." – Sunday Telegraph

OSBORNE GEORGE smiling George Osborne: Honesty is the first of many lessons we can learn from President Obama

"I have left behind a London stuck in a wasted year as a tired and
embittered government desperately limps towards its electoral fate; and
I have come to a Washington DC buzzing with the energy, ideas and
enthusiasm of a new administration.I am here to talk to the senior members of the Obama economic team… So what lessons can we learn from this new administration? The first is simple: be honest with people." – George Osborne MP writing in the Sunday Telegraph

Damian Green's (sacked) Home Office mole claims the Conservatives have "dumped" him

"The civil servant at the centre of the Home Office leak inquiry says he has been "dumped" by the Conservative party, even though Tory frontbencher Damian Green promised him a job in return for handing over sensitive Whitehall documents. Christopher Galley was arrested and lost his Home Office position after leaking documents to Green, the shadow immigration minister. He says Green promised to look after him "if things went wrong". Last night a Conservative source said Green did "emphatically not" offer Galley a job. "It is just not true." – The Observer

Tory Treasurer in "shares tax probe"

"Conservative Party treasurer Michael Spencer is at the centre of an embarrassing enquiry by tax officials over the transfer of shares in his City trading company Icap to an offshore subsidiary. HM Revenue & Customs has queried the “tax base cost” of Icap shares transferred to Dutch subsidiary Incap Netherlands BV in 2001 by Spencer’s private investment company IPGL." – Sunday Express

CleggNickDeclaring Nick Clegg seeks to distance himself from Tories with attack on Cameron's Europe policy

"Nick Clegg will attempt to dispel suggestions that he is forging closer links with David Cameron by placing the Tories' controversial policy on Europe at the heart of the Liberal Democrats' election campaign. The Lib Dem leader will claim this week that the Conservatives threaten to turn Britain into a "safe-house for criminals" by planning to withdraw from European cross-border policing agencies. " – Independent on Sunday

Business wants to know what the Conservatives will do with power

"Faced with a huge budget deficit, the answer seems to be a savage cut in spending; strong encouragement of green energy; a block on any airport expansion; investment in high-speed rail; a scaling down of government IT programmes and a package of measures to support small businesses. A wholesale reform of housing delivery is also on the cards. And Tory intervention to protect car industry jobs – inconceivable under Margaret Thatcher – cannot be discounted." – Nick Mathiason in The Observer

William Keegan: If Tories want to sail into No 10, they'd do well to study history

"The election does not have to be held for a year, and a year in politics consists of 52 very long weeks… The electorate may be fed up with the present government in general and its leader in particular, but it does not seem overwhelmingly enamoured of the Conservatives." – William Keegan in The Observer

Ex-Labour General Secretary lashes out at "brutal" Brown

"Gordon Brown is today accused of sacrificing the most senior official in the Labour party for personal political advantage in a devastating account of the “brutal” culture he presides over at No 10. Peter Watt, Labour’s former general secretary, has spoken out with the aim of demolishing any residual claim by the prime minister to the moral high ground. “Publicly, Gordon talks about values and his moral compass, but actually the way he conducts himself behind the scenes is anything but that – it’s brutal,” said Watt" – Sunday Times


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