21 May 2009

Brown rules out early election over expenses scandal

7:59 am on 21 May 2009

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has dismissed calls for an early election in response to a scandal over household expenses claimed by MPs.

He said on Wednesday the government's priority must be to fix the economy. Britain is in a recession, the worst since World War II.

Mr Brown said reform will do more good than the "chaos" of a vote during a recession.

The Conservative Party is well ahead in opinion polls. It has repeatedly urged him to call a snap election to allow voters to pass judgment on a scandal that has badly tarnished Parliament.

Claims by MPs range from pet food and bath plugs to tennis court repairs and watching pornographic films.

Earlier on Wednesday when two Labour members of the House of Lords were suspended for offering to amend laws in exchange for money. It was the first time any member of the upper house had been excluded for more than 350 years.

Speaker Michael Martin stepped down on Tuesday. He was the first speaker to be forced from his post since 1695.

A poll in the Daily Telegraph this week gave the Conservatives a 16 point lead over Labour.

An election is due by June 2010.