Senior members of David Cameron’s shadow cabinet have been implicated in the parliamentary expenses scandal.
Michael Gove and Andrew Lansley “flipped” properties designated as their second homes to claim allowances for multiple properties at taxpayers’ expense.
The tactic has been criticised by another member of the shadow cabinet.
Other senior Conservatives who made questionable claims included Alan Duncan, the shadow leader of the House of Commons, who oversees the party’s expenses policy. He was officially warned over his gardening bills after attempting to claim more than £7,000 in two years.
David Willetts, the shadow universities secretary, claimed more than £100 for workmen to replace 25 light bulbs at his home. Oliver Letwin, the chairman of the Conservatives’ policy team, claimed more than £2,000 to replace a leaking pipe under a tennis court.
Two members of the Conservative front bench, Mr Gove and Cheryl Gillan, have agreed to repay some expense claims.
Mr Cameron this morning called on Tory MPs to explain any dubious claims and publicly apologise for any "mistakes", saying it was "not good enough" to claim they had just been following the rules.
"What I want is for Conservative MPs, as with other MPs, to come out and explain why they claimed what they claimed, to admit to any mistakes, if there have been mistakes, and collectively to say 'Look, this system was wrong, we took part in it, we operated it'," he said.
"It's not good enough to say we obeyed the rules. We need a big acknowledgement that we are sorry that this happened and it needs to change."
Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said that the public had the right to be angry at MPs of all parties over the expenses scandal.
"I think voters can differentiate between what they think are legitimate expenses for those who have to have a second home to represent them in Parliament and what the public would regard as frivolous or luxury expenses," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"There is an element of common sense in that and I think voters can see that even when MPs may not have been able to see it."
Mr Duncan, one of the leading Tories whose claims have been thrust into the spotlight by the latest revelations, called on all MPs to apologise. "The House of Commons is in such a mess, these allowances have got to stop," he said.
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said that a “culture of abuse” had developed among MPs claiming expenses. Lord Naseby, a Conservative peer and former deputy speaker, said that the standing of Parliament had been brought “right down into the pits” and there may be a need for an immediate general election.
The Daily Telegraph has obtained details of expenses claims made by MPs from all political parties over the past five years.
The expenses scandal detailed over the past three days has hit the Cabinet, extended to the entire Government and is now shown to stretch to the highest levels of the Conservative party.
The Telegraph Expenses Files on the shadow Cabinet disclose that:
* Michael Gove, the shadow education secretary, spent more than £7,000 in five months furnishing a London property in 2006 before “flipping” his second home designation to a new property he bought in Surrey. He then claimed more than £13,000 in stamp duty and other fees from his Parliamentary expenses for this property. Mr Gove’s behaviour surprised colleagues because the former journalist was only elected in 2005 and is close to Mr Cameron.
* Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, spent thousands of pounds renovating a thatched Tudor country cottage shortly before selling it. He redecorated inside and out with premium paint at a cost of £2,000 and re-shingled the driveway. He then “flipped” his expenses to a Georgian flat in London where he claimed for thousands of pounds in furnishings including a Laura Ashley sofa.
* Francis Maude, the shadow minister for the cabinet office, attempted to claim the mortgage interest on his family home in Sussex. This arrangement was rejected by the Fees Office. Two years later, Mr Maude bought a flat in London a few minutes walk from a house he already owned. He then rented out the other property and began claiming on the new flat: the taxpayer has since covered nearly £35,000 in mortgage interest payments.
* Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, claimed thousands of pounds to renovate a London flat 17 miles from his family home. Mr Grayling already owned three properties within the M25 but still bought the flat with loans subsidised by the taxpayer. He then claimed for work on the property for up to a year after it was carried out. This enabled him to claim close to the maximum amount allowable under the expenses system during different years.
* Cheryl Gillan, the shadow Welsh secretary, claimed for dog food on her expenses. Last night, she said that she would repay the money.
The disclosures underline the cross-party nature of the parliamentary expenses scandal. Over the past few days, the Telegraph has exposed the exploitation of the allowances by senior Labour figures including members of the Cabinet. Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, has condemned the “flipping” of the designation of second homes by ministers.
“The idea was always that ministers were deemed to have their primary residence in London when they were members of the government,” he said. He called for a “hard and fast rule” about what constitutes an MP’s primary home.
Mr Cameron said last week that claims by Conservative MPs that were outside the rules would be “looked at”. “They just have to explain themselves,” he said. “That’s what all my MPs are going to have to do, that’s what I will have to do and I think that’s what the public deserve – they are angry about it and they want it sorted out.”
Not all members of the shadow Cabinet were implicated. Mr Cameron and William Hague, his deputy and shadow foreign secretary, both had relatively straightforward claims. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, claimed for a chauffeur using his office allowance.