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No duck islands: new MPs’ expenses claimsByChrisYoung

Newly-elected Memers of Parliament have had their expenses published for the first time.

In the first three months following their election victories, Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley claimed £8,887 and Macclesfield David Rutley claimed £7,874. Congleton MP Fiona Bruce did not make any claims in that period ecause she did not then have a personal assistant.

Claims will be published every three months, and the next release will include the first six months of Mrs Bruce’s expenses.

All three Conservative MPs are first timers, and came into power in the May General Election.

The figures, released this month, marks the first time expenses have been released since tighter guidelines were ought in by the Government in response to last year’s expenses scandal.

Mrs Bradley’s claims include £2,550 for accommodation, £3,877 on staffing, and taxi fares and train tickets. She also claimed £650 for an office Dictaphone.

She said: “All the details of my expenses claims were published online before I made the claims. I haven’t claimed for anything that wasn’t legitimate. In fact, MPs’ expenses claims are now monitored by a government body that would not pay for them if they were not legitimate.

“During the first three months, it was difficult to understand and manage the system, which is why I expect a lot of MPs didn’t claim anything. They didn’t know how the system worked.”

Mrs Bruce said her PA, Edward Winstanley, did not start working for her until August, so her expense claims had not been processed in time.

She said when the figures were released they would show she was delivering her constituents “value for money”.

Much of Mr Rutley’s total was spent on accommodation in London (£2,907) and staffing (£3,877). He also claimed for stationery, including £123 for a bulk order of 1,000 business cards.

MPs’ expenses were criticised last year, after leaked documents revealed claims for items such as duck islands and moat cleaning services.

Former Congleton MP Ann Winterton was one of the first to come under fire in 2008 after it emerged that, along with her husband, former Macclesfield MP Nick Winterton, she had claimed £80,000 for renting a second home in London belonging to a trust owned by the famiily.

She had also claimed £94 for an ironing board, £120 for bathroom accessories and £16.99 for a toilet handle.

The couple announced they would not stand at the next elections, citing family commitments.

The Chronicle, Thursday, 30th December, 2010. www.chronicleseries.co.uk 5

CHRONICLE FEATURE

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Parliamentary expenses system criticised by MP A local MP has criticised the Parliamentary expenses system for not understanding that MPs incur expenses both in London and in their constituencies.

Joan Walley, MP for Stoke orth, made her comments during a short debate on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority called by Adam Afriyie, Tory MP for Windsor.

well-off members and those with family responsibilities, nor deter members from seeking reimbursement of the costs of fulfilling their parliamentary duties.”

And Labour’s Miss Walley backed him, saying that one of the main issues was that the authority did not understand that MPs have responsibilities and duties in their constituency and in Parliament.

very difficult for members with families and members who are less well-off. It also causes problems, because members are not making claims. Looking back at this year, and certainly over the past six months, I know that virtually every one of my colleagues — I have spoken to 350 MPs one-to-one — has not made the claims that they are entitled to make.

Mr Afriyie said that the standards authority had introduced a system with “unnecessarily high costs and inadequacies” and called on the authority to introduce a simpler scheme of office expenses and members’ allowances that “cuts significantly the administrative costs, reduces the amount of time needed for administration by members and their staff, does not disadvantage less

“The current system does not take that into account, so the costs of one or the other have to be subsidised, or can be met by those who have wealth,” she said.

“If MPs do not have that wealth, they are simply unable to meet the costs of operating in two places at once.”

Mr Afriyie agreed, saying: “The current system causes inconvenience and makes things

“That may be seen externally as a great success but we all know that that is not the situation. We know that members are borrowing from their parents, having to borrow cars from friends, and still sleeping on floors of offices, which they are not supposed to do, because they are not claiming what they rightfully should be able to claim. It is not a good situation.”

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