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British MPs expense X-rated movies, horse manure


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It has all the makings of a Monty Python sketch ? prim British lawmakers caught in a farce over expense claims for everything from X-rated movies to a bathtub plug.But reality has come home to roost in the often absurd world of Her Majesty's Government.


Friday's leaked list of lawmaker expenses has leveled another blow to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's beleaguered government, which has been blamed for a litany of problems ranging from the Iraq war to the deepening recession.


According to the details published by Britain's Daily Telegraph, Brown paid his brother Andrew more than 6,500 pounds in two years for a maid the two shared when Brown was Britain's Treasury chief. The newspaper declined to say how it had obtained expense claims from 13 ministers but promised to roll out more in the coming days.


Home Office Secretary Jacqui Smith expensed two X-rated movies her husband watched, which she later repaid. Housing minister and former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett claimed 600 pounds for hanging plant baskets. And former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott claimed 300 pounds over two years to fix broken toilet seats.


The list could also prove damaging to the opposition Conservatives ? one Tory lawmaker expensed fertilizer used on his country house garden while a different lawmaker put in for cans of cat food.


Other expenses, categorized only by political party, included toilet seats, horse manure, wine rack, rat poison, pool maintenance, piano tuning, a chocolate Santa and a pizza cutter.


"I know people will be angry and it looks very bad," Harriet Harman, a Cabinet minister, told the BBC. "We recognize that ... public confidence is dented and we want to restore respect for the House of Commons."


The Telegraph offered more details in its Saturday edition, reporting that tourism minister Barbara Follett claimed more than 25,000 pounds over a four-year period for security patrols, CCTV cameras and alarms outside her London home. Follett is married to best-selling thriller writer Ken Follett, and the couple have a multi million-pound fortune.


Our Governments have a lot to answer for - roll on the revolution!

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