A LABOUR MP switched her second home to a house in Southampton 100 miles from her constituency just days before spending £22,500 on doing it up, it has emerged.

Backbencher Margaret Moran spent thousands of pounds over four years decorating and refurbishing three separate properties, switching her designated second home between Westminster, Luton and Southampton.

The Luton South MP, who earns £64,766 a year, apparently spent £22,500 of taxpayers' money treating dry rot at her and her partner's house in the city days after switching her ''second home'' there.

Records showed the Parliamentary fees office thought the work on the mid-terrace house 100 yards from the River Itchen waterfront in Southampton went against the ''spirit'' of MPs' allowances, but the rules did not give officials grounds to dismiss the claim.

During an exchange of e-mails between officials, one senior member of the fees office wrote: "The size of the claim and the timing of the change to her nomination were discussed but we were agreed despite appearing to be against the spirit of allowances there was nothing with regards to the rules that we could pull the claim on."

The house was originally bought by Mrs Moran's partner Mike Booker, who is thought to be safety adviser to the University of Southampton, in 1988. Her name was only added to mortgage documents only last year.

A spokesman for Ms Moran said: “Ms Moran is concerned about elements of the story and is seeking legal advice to whether or not this is actionable.”

No-one answered the door at the house in Ivy Road, St Denys, today.

Neighbour Pete Starnes said: “We only see them there occasionally. We don't have a lot to do with them if we can help it.”

He said work on their house included an extension to the back of the kitchen and an en-suite shower in the bedroom.

The revelation was part of the latest leaked details of Commons expenses show millionaire tourism minister Barbara Follett claimed more than £25,000 for security patrols outside her home.

Care services minister Phil Hope and health minister Ben Bradshaw also faced questions about their spending on second properties.

Meanwhile, immigration minister Phil Woolas threatened legal action over ''disgusting'' suggestions that he used parliamentary allowances to buy clothes for his wife, nappies and comics.

A national newspaper released more explosive material as desperate Commons officials called in Scotland Yard to investigate the leak.

Gordon Brown was forced yesterday to defend making payments for a cleaner at his London flat to his brother, and putting through a bill for plumbing work twice.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw was among other Cabinet ministers under pressure after admitting over-claiming for both his council tax and mortgage bills – although he stressed the money was paid back.

The latest disclosures also involved a senior Tory figure for the first time, shadow climate change minister Greg Barker.

The Bexhill and Battle MP - a close ally of David Cameron - is said to have made £320,000 after buying a flat with the help of taxpayers' money, and selling it after only 27 months.

The newspaper said details of other prominent Conservatives would be disclosed ''in the coming days''.