Huge drop in expenses claimed by MPs
Dec 3 2010 By Jonathan Walker
MPs have dramatically scaled back their expenses claims following a wave of public fury over Commons allowance, new figures revealed.
Many West Midlands MPs have failed to claim money they are entitled to for the cost of living in London.
But although the policy saves the taxpayer money, it has also prompted concerns that only the rich will be able to afford to stand for Parliament in the future.
The most expensive MP in the West Midlands is Birmingham MP Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), who received £12,315 in expenses between May 7 and August 31.
And the new expenses watchdog, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, revealed he was claiming £1,350 a month for rent of a London property.
Under Commons rules, MPs are allowed to claim expenses for the cost of having a home in their constituency and a second home in London. But many have simply stopped claiming for accommodation.
Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak) made no claims even though he is still paying off the mortgage on a London flat.
Referring to criticism of MPs’ expenses, he said: “It’s more trouble than its worth.”
Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) has stopped spending nights in London and commutes to Westminster from his Birmingham home.
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley), a successful businessman, funds his own accommodation.
Margot James (Con Stourbride), also a successful entrepreneur who was elected for the first time in May, said: “I do not claim for accommodation because I can afford not to.
“But I would be very worried if any MPs felt under pressure not to claim, because people must be able to stand for Parliament regardless of their financial circumstances.”
Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood (Lab) recently began claiming rent on a London flat, although these claims are too recent to show up in the figures. She said: “There’s no way I could afford to rent a London flat on my own so I need to claim expenses.”
As well as accommodation, MPs can claim expenses such as travel costs, stationery, and office bills such as rent, electricity bills and phone bills for constituency offices.
This is the first year expenses have been published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in this format.
Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill) £12,315.99
Michael Fabricant (Con Lichfield) £7,703.74
Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) £7,458.74
Caroline Spelman (Con Meriden) £6,265.33
Shabana Mahmood (Lab Ladywood) £5,851.13
Chris Kelly (Con Dudley South) £4,857.75
Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green) £4,384.97
David Winnick (Lab Walsall North) £3,816.40
Richard Shepherd (Lab Aldridge Brownhills) £3,212.45
Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) £3,079.86
Richard Burden (Lab Northfield) £2,903.95
Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) £2,803.12
Adrian Bailey (Lab West Bromwich West) £2,044.23
Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) £2,349
Lorely Burt (Lib Dem Solihull) £1,176.55
Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak) £860.61
Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) £832.59
Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East) £523.04
Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington) £499.45
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) £377.10
Margot James (Con Stourbridge) £353.60