Lancs MPs expenses revealed

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Two Lancashire MPs are among the most expensive in the country after they both claimed more than £170,000 of taxpayers' cash on travel, staff, office equipment and second homes.

Lancaster and Wyre Tory MP Ben Wallace claimed 175,523 on top of his 63,291 – the fourth highest claim of the 645 MPs in Parliament.

South Ribble Labour MP David Borrow claimed 172,706 – the eighth highest claim.

Our region's eight MPs claimed a total of 1.2m in expenses and allowances – 120,058 of which was travel costs.

Three MPs – Ben Wallace, David Borrow and West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper – claimed the maximum 23,083 second home allowance in 2007/08.

The so-called additional costs allowance (ACA) has been widely criticised after the emergence last year of the 'John Lewis List', which detailed how MPs could claim 10,000 for a new kitchen, more than 6,000 for a bathroom and 750 for a television.

Mr Wallace – one of the few MPs to openly publish a full breakdown of his expenses on his website – spent 90,825 on staffing costs, 20,607 on office costs and 2,265 on postage in 2007/08.

He said his claim was high because he paid 9,512 to cover a member of staff who was on maternity leave. Subtracting that payment makes him the 38th most expensive MP.

Mr Wallace – who employs his wife from their home near Lancaster – said: "You can go on my website and see what I spent it on. I am almost 300 miles north of London and there have been massive hikes in rail fares.

"I also have a huge electorate – I have nearly 20,000 above the average."

South Ribble MP David Borrow said: "All the claims are making sure that I have a properly staffed office in the constituency.

"That is what people would expect me to do. If people write to me or email me and ask me to do something, if the money is there for me to do the job then I ought to claim it rather than say 'I can't answer your letters'.

"There is more a case of criticising the MPs who do not claim the allowances they need to run an office and provide a good service."

Preston MP Mark Hendrick claimed 140,443, but does not employ family members. He said: "I make the best use of the expenses for the people who ask me to represent them.

"The vast majority goes on staff and it has always been that way." Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle clocked up the most motorway miles among the region's MPs with a road mileage claim of 8,203.

He said: "Using the car saves taxpayers money and I also take staff up and down with me saving two rail tickets."

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans was the most frequent flyer with 9,326 of flights paid for by the taxpayer.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP Geraldine Smith's overall claim of 166,097 was the 37th highest in Parliament.

Retiring Fylde MP Michael Jack, who employs his wife Alison as a parliamentary assistant, as well as two other staff members and a secretarial agency, said: "The majority of the allowances are spent on staff and running our offices."

He said: "It is about 2.50 a head for the people I represent. I hope they think that represents value for money.

The figures, released by the Commons authorities, also reveal for the first time the full cost of taxpayer-funded travel for MPs' family members.

MPs' spouses and children under 18 are entitled to 30 single trips – or 15 return journeys – every year between their constituencies and London.

Mr Hoyle's wife travelled 30 times at a cost of 2,785 while Fylde MP Michael Jack's wife travelled 11 times at a cost of 326.

Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that MPs are to receive a pay rise of 2.33% from April 1, raising their parliamentary pay to 64,766.

The full publication of every receipt claimed by MPs during the last four years - rumoured to be more than one million receipts - is due to take place in the summer.

4th...Ben Wallace (Wyre) - 175,523

8th...David Borrow (Leyland) - 172,706

37th...Geraldine Smith (Morecambe and Lunesdale) - 166,097

294th...Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) - 148,685

368th...Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire) - 144,129

411th...Mark Hendrick (Preston) - 140,443

481st...Michael Jack (Fylde) - 134,316

570th...Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) - 126,043

See the Evening Post on Tuesday for the full story.

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