MP defends 'Top 10' expenses list appearance
MP Lisa Nandy has defended her record after being named in the top 10 claimers at Westminster in the latest round of parliamentary expenses.
And the Labour politician’s bill for the taxpayer is the second highest claim for English MPs, after party colleague Jamie Reed, who represents the Copeland seat in Cumbria, according to figures published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
But the mother-of-one says unexpected staff sickness - and the demands of a young family - have accounted for her standing for 2016-17.
Reed’s expenses, Â£243,279 were said to have been inflated by his decision not to stand in the June General Election, and the cost of winding up his office.
The Wigan representative’s overall expenses bill, for staffing, accommodation, office costs and miscellanous items, rose from just over Â£191,540, in 2015-16 to just under Â£220,960, for the last financial year. Her total for 2014-15 was just under Â£181,100.
Ms Nandy said: “In the most recent round of publication, I incurred additional outgoings for staffing and travel costs due to unforeseen factors.
“This included cover for staff sickness and an additional number of journeys between Westminster and Wigan, incurred while juggling my commitments in Parliament with a young family at home in Wigan.
“As with all Members of Parliament, full details of my staffing and office costs are published each year, and it is right that this transparent system allows everyone to see how their money is spent.”
The expenses for Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue have remained relatively stable over the last three years - her 2016-17 bill was Â£184,234 and her 2015-16 submission was Â£184,863, both of which are lower than Â£187,197, the MP’s 2014-15 rate.
Former Leigh MP Andy Burnham was the lowest Labour claimer in the borough - his final expenses application before becoming Greater Manchester Mayor was Â£186,387, down from Â£189,990.
But all three have some way to go before they can match the record of Atherton’s Conservative MP Chris Green.
The Bolton West MP’s tally for last year was Â£168,044, though this was higher than the Â£130,612 claim he submitted for 2015-16.
Former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond, who lost his seat in June, was the second highest on the overall list, on Â£235.128.
And the remaining seven in the top 10 all represented Scottish seats.
The cost of keeping MPs safe has rocketed since the murder of Dewsbury MP Jo Cox by constituent Thomas Mair in June 2016, according to IPSA.
Ruth Evans, IPSA’s chairman, said: “Following the tragic events of June 2016, there was a big increase in the total expenditure on security, rising to Â£2.5m during the recorded year.
“It is important we take the security of MPs, and that of their families and their staff, very seriously,” she added.
The chairman, who also published the authority’s first annual assurance review, says it is also important to check that all of the MP’s business costs were fullly backed up with evidence and she was satisified with the overall level of compliance.