LONDON (AFP) - British lawmakers could face jail for making false expenses claims, under reform proposals unveiled Tuesday to respond to a scandal which has shaken Prime Minister Gordon Browns government to its core. The legislative plans were presented as a new speaker took office in the House of Commons, vowing a clean break following hugely damaging revelations about expenses claimed by members of parliament (MPs). Brown pledged to open a new chapter with Speaker John Bercow, who was elected late Monday after his scandal-tainted predecessor resigned, in the first such ouster in 300 years. I am determined that it is cleaned up in such a way that we can say to the people of this country: 'We listened, we heard, we knew something was wrong, we have now dealt with it, Brown said before the reforms were proposed to MPs. Struggling to draw a line under weeks of political turmoil, lawmakers elected Bercow to succeed Michael Martin, blamed for blocking efforts to reform parliamentary rules. Brown said he hopes the new speaker who marked his first day in the job by discarding the traditional wig and tights worn by many of his predecessors can help turn a page on the scandal. But critics say that Browns ruling Labour Party only backed him for tactical reasons ahead of elections it expects to lose next year, noting that Bercow is deeply unpopular within his own opposition Conservatives. It was a vindictive political act on behalf of the Labour Party towards what they see to be the future Conservative government and the British people, said Tory MP Nadine Dorries. It had nothing to do with reform it was all about the Labour Party playing party politics through a red mist, she said. Media reports suggest that only a handful of Bercows fellow Tory MPs voted for the 46-year-old who is seen as close to Labour adding that the Tories could try to oust him after elections due by next June. The speaker is required to be strictly neutral, renouncing his party membership as the public face of the lower house of parliament. The role involves chairing debates and curbing the famously rowdy behaviour of MPs. But Bercow, the son of a Jewish taxi-driver, will also be expected to lead lawmakers in moving past the expenses row, which has caused widespread public anger and disillusionment. We have faced quite the most testing time, which has left many members feeling very sore and vulnerable but large sections of the public also feel angry and disappointed, he said after his election. Commons leader Harriet Harman, presenting a new draft law on Parliamentary Standards Tuesday, said it would create new criminal offences, as well as establishing an independent body to oversee a reformed system of pay and perks. Lawmakers found guilty of one of the new offences could face up to a year in jail. MPs can already face criminal action last week Scotland Yard said a small number of lawmakers and Lords will face criminal investigations into alleged expenses abuse but the new legislation is expected to be more specific. Members want there to be full confidence in the system so that the cloud of suspicion is lifted and so that the reputation of the House can be restored, said Harman. Bercow himself has come under fire for his expenses. He has promised to pay back 6,500 pounds (10,600 dollars, 7,600 euros) after admitting he had not paid sales tax when he sold his previous constituency and London homes in 2003. However, he said he had done nothing wrong and had repaid the money voluntarily.