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More than £1million claimed by East Lancashire MPs
EAST Lancashire’s seven MPs claimed more than £1million in expenses on top of their salaries, new House of Commons figures reveal.
Top of the list is Rossendale and Darwen’s Jake Berry whose £162,784 included £156.87 for taxi and train fares in Majorca and London. They were for when he came back to Westminster from holiday and returned to the Spanish island beaches for the recall of Parliament to hear and debate a statement from Prime Minister David Cameron on last summers riots.
The lowest figure was his Pendle Tory colleague Andrew Stephenson with a claim of £143,069.
Mr Berry was defended for his taxi and train fare claims by Blackburn Labour MP Jack Straw, who claimed £145,380 on top of his basic MPs salary of £65,738.
He said: “The statement on the riots was an important debate for all MPs. Jake was quite right to come back from holiday and claim relevant extra travel expenses. My own ones are very boring and all to do with being MP for Blackburn.”
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, who as a deputy speaker earns a total of £100,000 a year like his Chorley Labour equivalent Lindsay Hoyle, said the total spend on the seven MPs of £1,054,996 was justified.
The Tory politician, who claimed £148,020, said: “East Lancashire is a long way from London so its MPs need to pay for travel to and from their constituencies and for offices and staff in both places.”
Mr Stephenson said: “I made a pledge when elected to keep my expenses as low as possible. I have tried to honour that by sharing a flat with two colleagues in London to minimise accommodation costs, travelling standard class and off-peak whenever possible, and never charging for food in the Commons.”
Burnley Liberal Democrat Gordon Birtwistle claimed £156,706 and Hynburn Labour MP Graham Jones £150,026.
Mr Hoyle employed his wife Catherine as his secretary for a salary of between £10,000 and £14,999 as permitted by House of Commons rules.
The expenses cash comes on top of not just the MPs Parliamentary salaries but outside earnings that range from nothing for Mr Evans and Mr Hoyle to £157,070 for Mr Straw.
The figures were released this week by the Parliamentary watchdog IPSA set up in the wake of the 2099 expenses scandal to tighten regulation of the payments.