Cameron to face scrutiny panel over mortgage claim

Conservative leader's claim reportedly cost taxpayers an extra £22,000

David Cameron has promised that his claims for mortgage interest on his second home will be fairly examined by his party’s scrutiny panel.

Asked yesterday whether he would defend his expenses in front of the scrutiny panel he created, he said: “Of course. The scrutiny panel looks at every single Conservative MP.”

He pledged to repay the money if the panel found that his claims were illegitimate.

The Conservative leader has faced criticism after he took out a £350,000 interest-only mortgage on his Oxfordshire home before shortly afterwards paying off £75,000 from the mortgage on his main home in London.

It is estimated that Cameron could have saved the public £22,000 if he had instead used the £75,000 sum to reduce the size of his taxpayer-funded loan.

However, Cameron yesterday denied that this was the case. Speaking to Channel 4 News, he said: “What I did was, as I became an MP, I bought a house in my constituency, and took out — yes — quite a large mortgage, three hundred and fifty thousand. And I claimed the mortgage interest on that. But I was actually paying out more in mortgage interest than I was claiming from the taxpayer”.

He added: “I don’t believe that had the mortgage been somewhat smaller, it would have made any difference. One, because I was paying more out in mortgage interest. And secondly, because when I did manage to pay down some of the mortgage, which I did in 2007, I then claimed for some very basic bills — things like electricity and gas and water.”

Cameron yesterday criticised government plans to create a committee to assess whether MPs’ expenses were legitimate. He said: “There’s a problem with the Committee being proposed to look at whether claims were within the rules over the last four years.

“We need to look at the rules and ask were they reasonable, were these claims right.”

He also renewed his call for an immediate general election and warned that the public would not be satisfied without one.

He said: “A rash of byelections is less effective than a general election.

“If we just sit and try to sort this out ourselves and lock the public out I don’t think it is good enough.”