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Stephen Gilbert's expenses top list for West Country MPs

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: September 20, 2013

  • STEVE GILBERT: Claimed £194,107 in expenses

Comments (6)

NEWQUAY and St Austell MP Stephen Gilbert claimed £194,107 in expenses last year – more than any other Member of Parliament in Devon and Cornwall.

A large chunk of the cash – £134,500 – was spent on staff salaries, while £16,873 went on travel, £16,061 on accommodation and £22,177 on his constituency office.

Mr Gilbert, who employs his mother, Jackie Bull, as a £10,000 to £15,000-a-year "senior caseworker", has faced criticism over his expenses claims in the past.

But he said on Monday that the money was necessary to fund his travel between Cornwall and London, while staff were needed to deal with the 500 letters and e-mails he receives every week.

Details of MPs' expenses were revealed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) last week.

Mr Gilbert told the Cornish Guardian: "I don't think anyone would want a situation where only those with private wealth were able to stand for Parliament. These figures represent the cost of travelling between Cornwall and Westminster, staying in London during the week, maintaining an office in St Austell and for the salaries of the staff who support me.

"Since becoming an MP, I have always sought to balance the priorities of doing my job effectively, while also providing value for money for the taxpayer. I have recently reviewed my accommodation arrangements and staff structure to save further costs."

On the subject of employing his mother, he added: "Jackie is more than qualified for the job she does and was appointed through an independent interview process."

The Ipsa figures show Cornwall's six MPs cost taxpayers a total of £951,822 in 2012-13.

The second highest claimant in the county was Andrew George, who represents the St Ives constituency and received £174,150.

He was followed by Sarah Newton, of Truro and Falmouth, with £158,102; Sheryll Murray, of South East Cornwall, with £152,606; Dan Rogerson, of North Cornwall, with £140,312; and George Eustice, of Camborne and Redruth, with £132,545.

Mrs Murray said she did not claim for electricity or television in her London flat, adding: "I don't feel it's right for the taxpayer to pay. Whatever I claim I can 100 per cent justify. I don't think I've had one claim refused."

The total bill for all 650 MPs' expenses rose by more than 7 per cent last year to £98 million and spending is now higher than in the run-up to the scandal that rocked Westminster in 2009.

The publication comes in the wake of proposals to raise MPs' pay from £66,000 now to £74,000 after the 2015 general election – despite protests from David Cameron that the cost of politics must not be allowed to rise.

The TaxPayers' Alliance has said costs must be kept under control.

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  • break  |  September 20 2013, 6:34PM

    For a while now its seemed like people become MP's just for the perks of the job,rather than becoming an MP to serve the public like they are meant to do.The fact that all MP's seem to be so out of touch with people seems to confirm this,regardless of which party you vote for.Complaining about it hasn't made any difference as politicians seem quite happy to lie just to get people off their back,so I'm interested in knowing,what would people recommend as our next course of action?

    |   8
  • TruroCornwall  |  September 20 2013, 3:59PM

    Best do without......Westminster MP's......and have Home Rule for Kernow...... ...never realised there was a Truro....in England......I was born and live in the one in Cornwall.....perhaps we could have a twinning ceremony....?

    |   1
  • Truro_England  |  September 20 2013, 10:50AM

    It seems to me and please correct me if I'm wrong, but once you get yourself into a position of an MP, you can use the bottomless pit that is the tax payers money and install family members and friends into a cushy job for life.... The high percentage of someone wishing to follow a career into politics or the civil service is, you are never held accountable, you get to abuse the public's taxes, claim claim and claim

    |   6
  • josdave  |  September 20 2013, 10:29AM

    I fail to see why the taxpayer should fund second homes in London which are not used much. Surely a better option would be to build a dormitory block for them to work in while they're in the capital. And to make it basic as they are supposed to be thereto work. Another thing which should be taken off the expenses list is meals. Everybody I know has to pay for their meals out of their salary and as the MPs salary is quite good they should do that.

    |   16
  • nickthompson  |  September 20 2013, 9:58AM

    "The TaxPayers' Alliance has said costs must be kept under control" LOL

    |   13
  • nickthompson  |  September 20 2013, 9:51AM

    The total bill for all 650 MPs' expenses rose by more than 7 per cent last year to £98 million and spending is now higher than in the run-up to the scandal that rocked Westminster in 2009. So 650 MPs claiming a total of 98 million pounds a year PLUS each one receiving a salary of £66,396 a year, I will leave Mr Osborne to do the maths, but he could do a lot worse than making a few cuts closer to home!

    |   13