What did your North East Herts or South Cambridgeshire MP claim on expenses?

PUBLISHED: 08:33 02 November 2015

Our five MPs spent just shy of £3 million on expenses and allowances in the last parliament. Picture: Parliament

Our five MPs spent just shy of £3 million on expenses and allowances in the last parliament. Picture: Parliament

parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

Our two MPs claimed £1.17 million in allowances and expenses while representing the area in parliament during the past five years, new figures have revealed.

Andrew Lansley and Sir Oliver Heald's expenses claims during the last parliament.Andrew Lansley and Sir Oliver Heald's expenses claims during the last parliament.

An analysis of claims for staff, office costs, travel and accommodation shows how both North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald and Andrew Lansley – who stepped down from his South Cambs seat before May’s general election – saw their bills rise by more than 25 per cent for 2014/15, when compared to four years earlier.

Meanwhile, latest figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority show that both Sir Oliver and Mr Lansley registered increases for what they received in 2014/15 when compared to the previous 12 months.

In the year-long run up to the election, Mr Lansley’s claims rose by 12.7 per cent, while Sir Oliver’s claims were up by 9.6 per cent.

The rises did relate to increased staff costs, but both were higher than the national average rise of 1.6 per cent.

Andrew Lansley and Sir Oliver Heald's expenses claims during the last parliament.Andrew Lansley and Sir Oliver Heald's expenses claims during the last parliament.

In the four years from 2011/12, both MPs saw rises in what they claimed annually – 40 per cent for Mr Lansley and 17 per cent for Sir Oliver.

For year-on-year comparisons, we have used figures for the last four years, rather than five, due to a change in how staff costs were reported. The totals do not include MPs’ basic salary, which was set at £67,000 but recently rose to £74,000 per year.

In total, Sir Oliver, claimed £606,000 and during the period in question saw rises in office, travel and staff costs. He was asked to comment on our findings, but failed to respond.

Mr Lansley, who has since been replaced by Heidi Allen, claimed £570,000 in five years, including an extra £40,000 on staff costs during his final year in office.

Some of the claims

• Andrew Lansley made regular claims of several hundred pounds over the course of the last parliament towards a ‘sinking fund’. It is not clear what this particular sinking fund entails, however its ordinary usage refers to a means of repaying funds that were borrowed through a bond issue.

• Mr Lansley had £22.80 rejected from an overall claim for £472.80 relating to a hotel stay on October 25, 2012. The part of the bill that was rejected was not part of IPSA’s scheme, according to the reasons for not paying.

• If the corridors of power are too drab and grey for Mr Lansley, he need only look down at his mouse mat, which is decorated with a relaxing image of two deckchairs on a golden sandy beach. Mr Lansley claimed £5.24 for the ‘Fellowes recycled Mousemat Beach Chairs’ in 2013/14.

• He also claimed £499 for an iPad in 2014/15, along with a further £110 for a keyboard and case. He spent £210 on the London congestion charge.

• Sir Oliver Heald, whose office costs were the highest in the region, claimed £1,011.68 for ‘furniture for constituency office’ in 2010/11.

• That year, he also spent £642.64 combined on a dictaphone service, repair to a dictaphone and transcriber, and a replacement dictaphone.

• Sir Oliver’s surgery advertising costs were among the highest, reaching £1.241.38 in 2013/14.

• He also claimed £1,692.98 on ‘service charge’ for his accommodation in 2014/15

His annual travel costs also rose from around £2,000 to £6,000 during the five years.

Mr Lansley also did not respond to an email.

New MP Mrs Allen will be expected to publish her allowance and expenses claims every quarter.

Further afield, Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries recouped £680,000, in her five-year term despite not claiming any accommodation costs for the final year. North East Beds MP Mr Burt claimed £666,000 and also saw a £31,000 increase in staff costs for the final year.

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley, who claimed £573,000 in the same period, saw his staff costs rise considerably during the last four years, from £110,000 in 2011/12, compared to £129,000 last year.

The £474,000 total of MP Stephen McPartland, who represents Stevenage, remained relatively small in comparison because he made no claims for travel or accommodation in the five years.

All MPs are entitled to claim expenses to aid their parliamentary work, and the investigation found no evidence among our local MPs of the sorts of claims that sparked scandal six years ago.

IPSA chief executive Marcial Boo said: “As the regulator of the public funds that go to MPs, IPSA ensures that taxpayers’ money is used transparently, and that MPs are appropriately resourced to carry out their parliamentary functions.”

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