LONDON Former minister Elliot Morley said on Friday he will step down as an MP at the next election after he was caught up in an expenses scandal that has angered the public and led to calls for sweeping political reforms.
Morley, an environment minister in former Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, said he did not want to damage the Labour Party in parliamentary elections that must be held within a year.
The Scunthorpe MP claimed 16,000 pounds of taxpayers' money for a mortgage that had already been repaid. He later said it was a mistake, apologised and returned the money.
"The last two weeks have been traumatic for me and I have to think of my family and my health, both of which have suffered," he told reporters after a meeting with local party members in Scunthorpe, northeast England.
"Nor do I want in any way to undermine the strong position the Labour Party has in this constituency in what will be a crucial election."
More than a dozen MPs have already said they will quit at the next election after the Daily Telegraph began publishing leaked details of parliamentary expense claims.
Politicians have claimed for everything from plasma screen televisions and designer wallpaper to moat cleaning bills and a floating house for ducks.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, trailing badly in the polls, has promised to reform the system in response to mounting public anger over the expenses system.
Earlier on Friday, Conservative leader David Cameron said one of his party's senior MPs had "serious questions to answer" over 15,000 pounds he claimed in expenses to pay his daughter rent for a flat.
Bill Cash, MP for Stone in Staffordshire, designated his daughter's west London flat as his "second home" during 2004 and 2005 despite owning a property nearer Westminster, according to the latest expenses story in the Telegraph.
Cash, whose main home is in his constituency, did not live in or rent out the flat he owned at the time, saying his son lived there instead.
Instead he claimed 1,200 pounds a month to live in his daughter's flat as a tenant.
His daughter Laetitia, 35, who the paper said is hoping to become a Conservative MP herself, sold her flat for a 48,000 pound profit shortly after her father stopped claiming allowances for it.
"I do not agree with the suggestion that renting my daughter's flat, in the circumstances, was unreasonable," Cash said in a statement.
(Additional reporting by Peter Griffiths)
(Editing by Steve Addison)
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