MPs claiming £250,000 a day in expenses
THE amount of money claimed by MPs in expenses rose by almost a quarter in 12 months as they hit nearly £90 million in 2011-12, with three Scottish MPs in the top five claimants.
The figures produced by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) showed an £18m increase from £71m claimed in 2010-11. The new figure works out at almost £250,000 per day.
The claims included 50 iPads, including one for Glasgow South Labour MP Tom Harris, who is a well-known user of Twitter. He also claimed £69.95 for a wifi booster.
The top claimants were three Liberal Democrats – Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, who clawed back £188,783; Mid-Cornwall MP Stephen Gilbert with £185,811; and Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael with £185,389.
Mr Mulholland’s office said in a statement that the MP had incurred extra expenses because of staff illness.
Mr Carmichael said much of his expenses were incurred travelling to, from and around his remote constituency.
He said: “As usual, the vast bulk of my expenses involved travelling between the northern isles and Westminster. All island residents know that is not cheap.”
• Full list of expenses claimed by Scottish MPs click here
Also in the top five was Glasgow North East Labour MP Willie Bain, with £180,923.70, and Central Ayrshire MP Brian Donohoe, with £182,003.47.
Falkirk Labour MP Eric Joyce, who was one of the MPs to claim for an iPad and has regularly been the top claimant since 2005-6, has dropped down the list this year with £165,856.44. In 2009-10, he became the first MP to break £200,000 for claims.
The lowest claimant was Kettering Tory MP Philip Hollobone, who took back just £7,546.58 but does not have staffing costs. Another Tory MP,
multi-millionaire Zac Goldsmith, made no claims except £100,000 for staff salaries.
The overall figure of £89m is now only slightly lower than in the run-up to the expenses scandal that rocked Westminster in 2009. But Ipsa insisted that the rate of claims had remained “stable”. The total £71m outlay for 2010-11 was misleading because of the impact of the general
Chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said “like for like” the rate of claims had been about the same last year, and 99 per cent were within the rules. “If we want a good service from our MPs, we have to fund them,” he said.
“And if you don’t think you get a good service from your MP, the answer is not to withhold funding – it is to use your vote.”
Sir Ian also hailed the transparency of the process which he says has brought expenses under control.
Ipsa has regularly been targeted by angry MPs who believe it has been too difficult and bureaucratic to claim money back.
Sir Ian said: “Remember the old days in parliaments of the past when your MP’s claims for business costs and expenses were published? Well, no. Because in the past it didn’t happen. Information wasn’t available to the public.
“Then, we had the series of increasingly shocking newspaper reports in 2009.
“Since then a new, independent organisation – Ipsa – has taken control of the issue, setting clear rules and enforcing them.”
Altogether, the 650 MPs were handed £89.4m in 2011-12. In 2008-9, the total expenses bill was £95.4m, while in 2009-10 – the year abuses surfaced – the figure fell to £90.7m.
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