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MP defends claiming the highest expenses
An MP has explained why his business costs and expenses for the past year were higher than any of his colleagues.
New figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) – set up in the wake of the scandal that saw four MPs jailed for fraud – detail MPs’ claims from April last year to the end of May.
Expenses are published online every two months as part of the drive for transparency, and the latest annual figures include claims for April and May, according to IPSA, which revealed Leeds North West Liberal Democrat MP, Greg Mulholland, claimed the most allowances at £188,783.
Last night, Mr Mulholland said his claims rose due to unfortunate staffing circumstances, which also forced him to part with £5,000 of his own money.
He said: “The reason my annual expenditure was significantly higher last year was because of the very unfortunate situation where two members of staff, in a team of five, were on long-term sick, which was difficult and distressing for all concerned.
“The additional cost arising from this difficult situation was just over £30,000, without which my expenditure would have been ranked 90th and below several other Yorkshire MPs.
The situation personally cost me and my family about £5,000Greg Mulholland MP
“The situation also personally cost me and my family about £5,000.”
Mr Mulholland said he was at the forefront of efforts to reform the system after the MPs expenses scandal, and will continue to try to drive his business costs and expenses down now his staffing situation has returned to normal.
He added: “As I have to travel to and from Yorkshire, and because I do not own property in London, as some independently wealthy MPs do, my costs will always be higher than those of many of my colleagues.
“I have always made every effort to minimise costs and continue to do so.”
The IPSA figures show Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew submitted claims for £149,766.26, Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies £145,175.81 and Keighley Conservative MP Kris Hopkins £138,415.87.
An average of £100,000 for each MP is accounted for by staffing costs, and thousands of pounds of bills were submitted for running their constituency offices. The remainder is claimed for London rents while they are in Westminster and travel to and from the constituency.