Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MPs ON [Pounds Sterling]80m GRAVY TRAIN; Average Expenses Bill Hits [Pounds Sterling]122,000 - with [Pounds Sterling]60,000 Salary

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MPs ON [Pounds Sterling]80m GRAVY TRAIN; Average Expenses Bill Hits [Pounds Sterling]122,000 - with [Pounds Sterling]60,000 Salary

Article excerpt

Byline: ISABEL OAKESHOTT;JASON BEATTIE

MPs claimed a record [pounds sterling]80.8 million in expenses last year.

The claims - in allowances and special payments - came on top of basic salaries of almost [pounds sterling]60,000 a year.

The average MP filed a bill for [pounds sterling]122,677 to cover spending on second homes, travel, stationery and staff. Tonight pressure groups labelled the huge sums "outrageous" and accused MPs of abusing the system.

Critics pointed out that the generous allowances left MPs with few overheads, making them vastly better off than the people they represent.

Matthew Elliot, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance pressure group, which claims backing from top economists and City figures, said: "When it comes to public sector waste, it's clear that the rot starts at the very top.

"If politicians are really serious about spending our money wisely, they should start by clamping down on their own expenses."

But MPs say most of the cash goes on essentials such as researchers and administration.

The figures - published for only the second year - expose an above-inflation 3.6per cent rise in expenses claims since the previous session, when MPs claimed [pounds sterling]78million, or an average of [pounds sterling]118,437.

Former Croydon Central Labour MP Geraint Davies - ousted by the Tories at the last election - claimed most with [pounds sterling]176,026. He was followed by Labour's Margaret Moran, the Luton South MP, who asked for [pounds sterling]168,569, and the Scottish National Party's Angus Robertson, on [pounds sterling]160,776.

Former health secretary Alan Milburn racked up [pounds sterling]154,139, the 10th highest amount, while Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain claimed [pounds sterling]154,041.

Former Labour MP Oona King - who lost her Bethnal Green and Bow seat to George Galloway - spent [pounds sterling]153,977. Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett claimed [pounds sterling]117,499, including [pounds sterling]20,608 in second home allowances. …

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