UK Politics

MP Rob Wilson defends 9p car journey claim

Conservative MP Rob Wilson

An MP has defended claiming 9p on expenses for a 352-yard car journey to a constituency event.

Rob Wilson made a number of claims under £1 for short journeys, including 60p for a trip on his bicycle.

The Reading East Conservative MP admitted that putting such small costs on expenses might seem "odd", but said that over a year mileage "does add up".

It was important for MPs to do their job and "stay connected" with constituents, Mr Wilson added.

Mr Wilson - who is also a minister for civil society - claimed £174,000 in expenses for the 2013-14 financial year, of which payroll costs were £142,000.

'Very active'

Details of the claims were made available on the website of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) - the body that oversees MPs' pay and expenses.

The 9p journey, made on 29 March last year, was labelled a "constituency engagement".

The MP claimed 13p for the cost of a 528-yard car journey to attend a business meeting, and for a drive to a business event in his constituency costing 68p.

He also claimed 60p for a journey on his bicycle between his constituency office, the railway station and home, made in November 2014.

Defending his expenses, the Conservative MP told Metro.co.uk he was "a very active local MP" and met his constituents on a weekly basis.

Image caption One of Mr Wilson's claims was for a journey by bike in his constituency

"I do use my car to cut down the travelling time so I can visit as many constituents and local organisations in the time available.

"Many of my journeys are over fairly short distances of a few miles, but with a number of visits each week, over a year the mileage does add up.

"I can see how small claims might look odd but it is important that all MPs do the job properly and stay connected with local people," he said.

He also pointed out he had not claimed accommodation expenses in London since becoming an MP in 2005, saving taxpayers "hundreds of thousands of pounds".

"However, as I do commute most days it does mean I incur parking and mileage expenses instead.

"Whilst some may wish me to walk or cycle home after arrival at Reading Station late at night, my constituents understand that would not be practical," he said.

MPs are to receive a 10% pay increase to £74,000, backdated to 8 May.

Ipsa - which gave the go ahead for the rise despite appeals from Downing Street and MPs - said in future MPs' pay would rise in line with average rises in the public sector.

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