The Great Commons Gravy Train - MPs pick up £200,000 for 34 weeks a year


Last updated at 14:54 06 November 2007


MPs are costing taxpayers £87 million a year in expenses alone, it was revealed last night.

The 646 members claimed an average of £136,000 each last year, with the highest payouts going to three ministers.

With salaries of £60,277, even backbench MPs are now pocketing almost £200,000 a year each.

Critics said last night they should be 'ashamed of themselves' for being such a drain on the taxpayer.

The payouts include staff salaries, travel allowances, second homes, office costs, computers and stationery.

The highest claim, £185,421, came from International Development Minister Shahid Malik, who has a Yorkshire constituency.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, with a seat in Birmingham, collected £178,116.

Scroll down for more...

Joan Ryan, a Home Office minister at the time and now the Prime Minister's special representative to Cyprus, was third, on £173,691.

She claimed £21,971 to cover staying in Westminster, even though her constituency is just 40 minutes away.

The figures also put a fresh spotlight on Cabinet couple Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper.

They collected £32,000 by claiming their family home in London is actually a second property behind a house in Yorkshire, even though their children go to school in the capital.

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Sir Menzies Campbell all put in claims of near the average for the 2006-07 financial year.

The total expenses payout was five per cent up on the previous year - yet the current rate of inflation is just 1.8 per cent.

The bonanza was revealed by the Members Estimate Committee on the day that public spending watchdog Sir John Bourn resigned after becoming embroiled in controversy over his own expenses.

Scroll down for more...

They follow research showing that politicians struggle to find work once they leave Westminster - suggesting they are effectively unemployable.

Only last week it emerged that MPs will be given an extra day off next Easter, taking their 2008 holiday allowance to 91 days. The average taxpayer gets just 28 days off work.

Politicians also benefit from gold-plated final salary pension schemes.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance, said MPs should be ashamed of themselves.

'Families are struggling to pay higher tax bills while MPs are spending more and more of our money on themselves,' he said.

'What's worse is that they won't even give us a full itemised breakdown of their expenses as MSPs do in Scotland.

'No wonder voters have little respect for politicians when they see so many MPs with their snouts in the trough.'

But Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey, a member of the estimate committee, claimed taxpayers were getting ' excellent value for money'.

He said: 'As well as playing a vital role in the Commons in debates, law-making and scrutiny, MPs have to undertake frequent journeys between the constituency and Westminster and elsewhere.

'They also have to ensure their offices are fully staffed and properly equipped and provide the level of support and communication increasingly expected and demanded by constituents.'

Travel expenses - which cover car mileage, train and air fares in Britain as well as European travel - came to £5.4million for all MPs.

Janet Anderson, Labour MP for Rossendale and Darwen, was the highest claimer for car travel, raking in £13,851.

At 40p a mile for the first 10,000 and 25p for the rest, she travelled 50,000 miles - equivalent to twice around the world.

Six of the top ten expense claimants were Labour MPs.

Angus MacNeil, the Scottish National Party MP whose complaint sparked the police 'cash for honours' investigation, claimed £169,971 - although his Highlands and Islands constituency is one of the furthest from Westminster.

Tony Blair, who was prime minister throughout the period, claimed £97,084, effectively for his role as a constituency MP.

That was £10,000 more than the previous year.

Gordon Brown, who was still chancellor, collected £135,525. The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath claimed £17,017 for London accommodation, 9,557 for air tickets and £2,812 for postage and stationery.

David Cameron - who represents Witney in Oxfordshire - claimed £7,860 more, including £20,563 on London housing and £12,775 on postage and stationery.

His travel expenses were £950 car mileage and a £20 rail fare - but nothing for his cycle riding.

Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Nick Clegg claimed £146,022 - £7,191 more than his rival, Chris Huhne.

Labour MP Andrew Dismore, a supporter of a failed attempt earlier this year to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act, spent £20,665 on postage and £8,480 on stationery.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now