Alan Duncan sacked from shadow cabinet

Tory front-bencher demoted for saying that "the world has gone mad" over expenses

Alan Duncan, the Conservative frontbencher who was caught on camera complaining that MPs had to "live on rations" was sacked from the shadow cabinet last night.

Duncan, previously shadow leader of the Commons, has been demoted by David Cameron to the more junior post of shadow justice minister, as punishment for his outburst.

He was said to have readily accepted the new position, which will see him take charge of Conservative prisons policy under Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice secretary.

In a statement last night, Duncan said: "This is a sensible decision. You have to be realistic about how difficult the expenses issue has been. What matters most is winning the election and David Cameron becoming the prime minister.

"I don't want to be a brake on that by making a difficult issue more problematic. I am very happy to get stuck into another job."

Cameron issued a brief statement, which made it clear that Duncan would not be back in the shadow cabinet soon. He said: "I'm grateful for Alan's work as shadow leader of the house and I'm sure he will continue to make a valuable contribution as shadow justice minister."

In June, Duncan invited Heydon Prowse, a blogger and activist who had planted a flower bed in the shape of a pound in his garden to protest at his £4,000 expense claims for gardening, to meet him at the Commons. Prowse secretly recorded the meeting, in which Duncan said that MPs were being "treated like shit" as the "world has gone mad".

Duncan's replacement will be announced on Tuesday in what sources say will be a minor shadow cabinet reshuffle.