BASINGSTOKE MP Maria Miller today admits that she has “made mistakes” – and she is vowing to work hard for her constituents following her decision to quit as Culture Secretary.
It was last Wednesday that 50-year-old Mrs Miller stepped down from her Cabinet post after a week of mounting pressure for her to quit or be sacked by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mrs Miller came under immense pressure to step down following the publication of a report by Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Hudson into expenses claims relating to the mother-of-three’s second home in Wimbledon, London.
The Parliamentary Committee on Standards – on which the Conservative Party has the largest single representation – went against the recommendation of the Commissioner in asking Mrs Miller to repay £5,800 that she overclaimed in mortgage interest payments on her second home between 2005 and 2009. Mrs Hudson had recommended that Mrs Miller should repay £45,800.
Mrs Miller – who was cleared by Mrs Hudson of deliberately submitting expenses claims for her own benefit – was also told by the standards committee to apologise in the House of Commons for her attitude to the Commissioner’s inquiries.
Mrs Miller complied by making a 32-second apology that only served to fuel the controversy over whether she should resign, or be axed, from the Cabinet.
Writing in her weekly ‘How I See It’ column on page 2 of tomorrow’s edition of The Extra, Mrs Miller, commenting on why she decided to resign last Wednesday, says: “I took that decision because the situation had become a distraction from the important work of the Government.”
She adds: “Some people are, perhaps, cynical about the motivation of politicians.
“My motivation is simple. As Basingstoke’s MP, I want to make sure our part of North Hampshire has someone in Parliament to help make this a fairer and better place to live.”
After commenting on what she has done as Basingstoke MP since being elected in 2005, Mrs Miller says: “I fully recognise that I have made mistakes.
“I have apologised unreservedly for making those mistakes, and for the deep concern caused.
“Now, by continuing to work hard for the people of Basingstoke and being your voice in Westminster, I hope to put that right.”
Her column in full:
“It won't have escaped many people’s attention that last week I resigned my position as a Government Minister.
“I took that decision because the situation had become a distraction from the important work of this Government.
“I have never fitted the stereotype of a Member of Parliament. I went to a state comprehensive school. I had a 20-year career in business before becoming an MP. I am a working mum with three children and have cared for my elderly, now disabled, parents for many years.
“Some people are, perhaps, cynical about the motivation of politicians. My motivation is simple. As Basingstoke’s MP, I want to make sure our part of north Hampshire has someone in Parliament to help make this a fairer and better place to live.
“Over the past nine years in Parliament, I have had the opportunity to do just that, including fighting to improve local services; campaigning to improve the quality of our environment including the pollution levels in the River Loddon, and supporting Basingstoke business to provide more jobs and helping people who find it hard to navigate their way through local services from flooding, to housing and healthcare.
“As a Government Minister, the Prime Minister asked me to handle difficult Government reforms including Equal Marriage. But, of course, implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson on the future of media regulation, following the phone hacking scandals, would always be controversial for the press.
“Working with the Prime Minister, I believe we struck the right balance between protecting press freedom and ensuring fairness for victims of press intrusion.
“I fully recognise that I have made mistakes. I have apologised unreservedly for making those mistakes and for the deep concern caused.
“Now, by continuing to work hard for the people of Basingstoke and being your voice in Westminster, I will hope to put that right.”
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