County MPs defend their expenses claims
THE amount of money claimed by MPs in expenses has risen above what was claimed before 2009 when the expenses scandal exploded.
Since the scandal, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has “clamped down” on the system with critics hoping costs would also be curtailed.
But the amount paid out to MPs, including staff expenses, was £98.1million in 2012/13, up from £95.4million in 2009.
Meanwhile, more MPs are now employing members of their family with more than 150 doing so during the last financial year.
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Laurence Robertson, Conservative MP for Tewkesbury, employs both his partner, Anne Marie Adams, as an office manager, and his estranged wife, Susan Robertson, as a senior secretary.
Mr Robertson was asked about employing members of his family.
He said: “What’s wrong with that? If you were to ring my office number after 10pm, Annie would answer it, which is the sort of service people would hope for; whereas, if you were to ring many offices where there isn’t a family member it would not be answered.
“They provide a service way beyond anything that non-family members can. If there was something wrong with it, IPSA would have outlawed it and they did not.”
Mr Robertson claimed £42,481 in expenses, which does not include staffing payroll.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Conservative MP for the Cotswolds, claimed £24,502 in expenses last year, with £12,606 of that spent on a constituency office.
He said: “Ever since I have been a Member of Parliament I have always tried to provide the best possible service and value for money for my constituents, and have always been mindful of the need to ensure that taxpayers’ money is used efficiently.
“This has been vindicated by the fact that my expenses for the last year were lower than many other Members of Parliament, particularly those in Gloucestershire.”
Neil Carmichael, Conservative MP for Stroud, claimed £50,049.
He said: “I was elected in 2010 so I started with the new system and I am still in the new system.
“What I do know is that the biggest part of an MP’s expenses is staff costs, and I am sure people want to know that staff are looked after.”
Richard Graham, Conservative MP for Gloucester, claimed £30,430.
He said: “For the third year running, I’m pleased to have been able to stick to my pledge for the total cost of my office to be about 20 per cent less than my predecessor in the last Parliament.”
Martin Horwood, Cheltenham’s Liberal Democrat MP, claimed £52,682.
He said: “Very little of the total bill for Parliament is what people think of as expenses.
“It is overwhelmingly staffing budget and office rent.”
Mark Harper, Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean, claimed £39,548.
Mr Harper’s office did not answer a request for a comment.