DARWEN and Rossendale MP Janet Anderson is one of the highest expenses claimers in Parliament.

Mrs Anderson recorded the highest expenses of all East Lancashire MPs and was also the 17th highest in the nation.

She claimed £152,137 in expenses on top of her salary from April 2005 to March 2006, compared to £151,036 the previous year, but she said she made no apology for it as it was money spent serving her constituents.

The average for the six East Lancashire members of Parliament was £132,101 and Greg Pope, Hyndburn MP, was the area's second most expensive MP, with expenses of £133,585.

His claim rose by £23,548 or 21 per cent from 2004/05, when his bill was £110,037. He put this down to his staffing costs increasing from £57,906 to £79,940, because he took on a extra member of staff to deal with constituency work.

"In the end these allowances are there to enable members of Parliament to do their jobs," said Mr Pope.

He said the amount of information and help requested by constituents had risen massively since he took office in 1992.

"People demand more information, and rightly so," he added.

MPs are currently paid a basic salary of £59,686, which will rise to £60,277 on November 1.

Burnley MP Kitty Ussher was one of the cheapest with a bill of £122,163 unlike her predecessor Peter Pike, who stood down at the May, 2005, General Election.

Between April, 2004, and March, 2005, Mr Pike spent £143,824.

Ms Ussher said her costs were lower because she was a new MP and it had taken her a while to get her office up and running.

Her travel costs were £4,299 which were far less than Mr Pike's, which were £20,634.

Mrs Anderson said: "My travel is quite high, I spend a lot travelling from Westminster to my constituency, and I make no apology for that. I also spend a lot on correspondence, which I also make no apology for."

Mrs Anderson said she also ran two offices, one in her constituency in Bacup Road, Waterfoot and one in Westminster. Her claim bill rose by £1,101 on the previous year.

"I try to do my best for my constituents," she added.

The local MP who claimed the least was leader of the House of Commons and Blackburn MP Jack Straw who submitted a bill for £121,111 a rise of £2,221 on 2004.

Pendle MP Gordon Prentice's claim rose by £8,240 to £132,590 and Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans spent £131,021, a rise of £1,085.