THE DAYS of dodgy MPs’ expenses claims are over, Parliament’s sleaze watchdog said as the latest batch of claims was published.

MPs from the south cost taxpayers just over £1.5m last year, the annual figures showed.

There was a wide variety in the amounts paid out to each MP, from New Forest West Tory Des Swayne on £86,894 to Winchester Conservative Steve Brine on £142,083.

Southampton Labour duo Alan Whitehead and John Denham, who share a base in the city, cost taxpayers the most in office expenses with bills including staff wages of £123,081 and £127,329.

Chris Huhne (Eastleigh) and George Hollingbery (Meon Valley) did not claim accommodation expenses for a second home. Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage’s accommodation costs of £22,084 were the highest in the area.

Expenses are managed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which was set up in the wake of the 2009 scandal which saw MPs castigated for bizarre claims and “flipping” their second homes to maximise profit.

Sir Ian Kennedy, IPSA chairman, said expenses claims were now published every month following the “shocking” reports in 2009.

He said three things were clear from yesterday’s publication.

“First, the expenses scandal is behind us. Remember what it was like – report after report of MPs claiming for all sorts of things; ‘flipping’ homes; no system of scrutiny; and all this behind closed doors. That world is behind us. We have overhauled the system and the expenses scandal is clearly history.

“Second, MPs are keeping to the rules. Ninety-nine per cent of claims are within the new rules. So it isn’t just us doing our job – MPs are behaving responsibly and claiming within the rules.

“Third, we are talking about significant sums of money. We should be clear about this. We are publishing the details of £89m worth of costs and expenses – about the same likefor- like sum as last year.”

Sir Ian said people had to expect a cost if they wanted a service from MPs, pointing out that the majority of the outlay related to staffing offices.

He added: “If we want a good service from our MPs, we have to fund them. And if you don’t think you get a good service from your MP, the answer is not to withhold funding – it is to use your vote.”

 

WHAT YOUR MP CLAIMED IN 2011:

MP CONSTITUENCY ACCOMM. TRAVEL OFFICE MISC TOTAL
John Denham Soton Itchen £11,594.31 £3,402.53 £123,081.01 £0 £138,077.85
Alan Whitehead Soton Test £7,414.87 £4,150.18 £127,329.11 £0 £138,894.16
Caroline Nokes Romsey/Soton North £12,712.48 £6,110.53 £89,826.38 £0 £108,649.39
Desmond Swayne New Forest W £2,713.53 £2,202.1 £81,844.98 £133.50 £86,894.11
Julian Lewis New Forest E £6,926.38 £3,850.8 £113,022.68 £0 £123,799.86
Andrew Turner Isle of Wight £21,793.02 £5,459.94 £139,541.95 £0 £166,794.91
Chris Huhne Eastleigh £0 £2,091.94 £102,675.61 £0 £104,767.55
Mark Hoban Fareham £16,431.85 £2,959.5 £75,706.35 £430.83 £95,528.53
Caroline Dinenage Gosport £22,084.25 £5,199.55 £108,393.07 £21 £135,697.87
Steve Brine Winchester £18,108.31 £3,308.75 £120,666.78 £0 £142,083.84
Maria Miller Basingstoke £13,729.28 £3,349.40 £107,648.93 £0 £124,727.61
George Young NW Hants £17,450.26 £3,398.75 £90,379.97 £0 £111,228.98
George Hollingbery Meon Valley £0 £390.95 £117,805.04 £0 £118,195.99