UK lawmakers call for speaker to quit over expense scandal

Michael Martin, pictured here in December 2008, has faced calls from lawmakers step down as Speaker.
Michael Martin, the speaker of the House of Commons, rebuffed calls from lawmakers for his resignation Monday amid widespread public anger about improper expense claims by UK members of parliament.

Martin said lawmakers had let the public down “very badly indeed,” adding: “To the extent that I have contributed, I am profoundly sorry,” said Martin. The Speaker traditionally chairs debates and ensures protocol is followed in the main legislative chamber of the UK parliament. No Speaker has been forced out of office since 1695. Critics argue Martin allowed expense claims to run amok and failed to recognize the depth of public disgust at the amounts being claimed — into the tens of thousands of dollars for some lawmakers Lawmakers demanded to know if they would be allowed to debate a call for his resignation Tuesday. He refused. There had been rumors Martin would announce that he would not run for re-election, but he made no such promise Monday. Watch more on voters’ anger »

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Nick Clegg, the leader of the small opposition Liberal Democrat party, has already called for Martin to resign. Politicians across the political spectrum have been under fire after weeks of front-page headlines revealing their expense claims. What do you think about the expense scandal They included requests for reimbursements for mortgages that had been paid off; multiple members of the same family claiming the same expenses, and reimbursement for lavish home furnishings.

The justice minister, Shahid Malik, resigned from the Cabinet over the claims, while insisting he had acted within the rules. The governing Labour party cut ties with a former minister, Elliot Morley, over his expense claims. Watch London cabbies speak out against lawmakers » Many lawmakers put in the spotlight by the Daily Telegraph newspaper say they broke no rules. Part of the reason MPs are now focusing their anger on Martin, the speaker, is that his office handles expense claims.