UK Politics

MPs' post-expenses scandal claims published

Parliament
Image caption New expense rules came into force for the new Parliament

MPs' claimed more than £10m in the six months after the expenses scandal broke, according to new figures.

Claims for accommodation, office, communications and incidental expenses between July and December 2009 have been published on Parliament's website.

Second homes allowance claims dropped, after new limits were imposed in the wake of the scandal.

Between July and December 2009 £3.1m was claimed, compared to £5m over the same period the year before.

The drop is not surprising as, in the wake of the expenses scandal, from May 2009 claims under the £24,000-a-year allowance were capped at £1,250 a month.

The controversial second homes allowance, which allowed MPs to buy taxpayer-subsidised properties, has since been restricted to rented properties for new MPs.

Second homes

The details show former Totnes Conservative MP Anthony Steen - who was reprimanded by David Cameron after saying criticism of his claims was motivated by "jealousy" - made two payments of £1,995.25 to a press and strategy consultant.

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman spent more than £2,600 on a press cutting service, Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne claimed £1,512.67 for repairs to his house - including repairing his door bell and refixing brass door numbers.

The database lists expenses claims under four headings - accommodation, office running costs, non-payroll staffing and communications allowances. Travel claims are listed seperately but totals are not given.

High Court battle

Office running costs - which do not include staff salaries but things like IT equipment, utility bills and petty cash - totalled £4.4m between July and December 2009, just below the £4.6m claimed over the same period in 2008.

Other non-payroll staff costs - like payments to constituency associations and maintenance bills - also rose, from £309,606 to £449,149.

And claims under the communications allowance - which MPs were not allowed to use for party political purposes but to "boost public understanding of Parliament" - rose from £1.9m in the last six months of 2008 to £2.6m in the same period last year.

Claims under that allowance shot up between October and December 2009, when they reached £1.8m compared to £547,240 between April and June.

The Commons long resisted publishing full details of MPs' claims and used to publish total expenses claims made under general headings.

But after losing a High Court Freedom of Information case they were forced to compile details of individual MPs' claims for publication.

The case also triggered the expenses scandal, when the information was leaked ahead of its official publication and without the large number of "redactions" - blacked out details - made by Commons staff.

The database includes scans of the forms they filled in and bills received to back up claims. Travel claims are listed seperately but totals are not given.

Meanwhile Sir Stuart Bell, a member of the supervisory House of Commons Commission, has said 83 members of Commons staff earn more than the MP's basic £65,738 a year salary.

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