SOUTHAMPTON MP John Denham has defended his decision to claim rent for a flat in London despite renting out another property in the capital.

The Labour MP has been revealed as one of at least 32 Parliamentarians who have similar arrangements.

Critics say MPs should not be entitled to a taxpayer-funded second home if they already own their own property nearby.

But Mr Denham, the MP for Southampton Itchen, said his hand had been forced by the tough new rules set up after the 2009 expenses scandal.

MPs are no longer allowed to claim for mortgage interest on their second homes, meaning they have to meet the costs themselves or sell up. Dozens of them have chosen to let out their homes to cover the mortgage costs while claiming rent elsewhere, which is within the rules laid down by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

Mr Denham said he had lived in his London property from 2004 until 2012, before moving out "solely and directly as a consequence" of the rule changes.

He said: "I had absolutely no wish to move into a rented flat as I owned an entirely suitable property in London. Indeed, I waited until the last possible moment before the rule changes came in before leaving the property. I was hoping that there might be a last minute change in the rules that would have enabled me to continue to live in my own home."

The Labour man said he would "strongly prefer" to return to the old arrangement, saying it would cost taxpayers less.

He added: "As is well known, I am leaving Parliament at the next election, due in 2015. There are substantial one-off and recurring costs involved in vacating, financing and letting a property. I am also making a required payment to IPSA in respect of capital appreciation in the property's value. Although there are obviously many uncertainties, at the current time I do not anticipate being better off as a result of the current situation, nor have I organised it for personal benefit."