Cost of county MPs revealed
IPSWICH MP Chris Mole likes to keep in touch with his constituents . . . he spent £13,600 writing to them last year!But the Labour MP is also one of the greenest in the county - he made one of the lowest travel expense claims, and spent all his transport allowance on rail trips.
IPSWICH MP Chris Mole likes to keep in touch with his constituents . . . he spent £13,600 writing to them last year!
But the Labour MP is also one of the greenest in the county - he made one of the lowest travel expense claims, and spent all his transport allowance on rail trips.
He didn't claim any money for mileage in his car - even though he drives a Toyota Prius which is so green that it is exempt from the capital's congestion charge.
But when it comes to travel expenses Mr Mole - and all his parliamentary colleagues in Suffolk - are very extravagant in comparison to former environment secretary John Gummer . . . who claimed the equivalent of just six return trips between Ipswich and London for the whole year!
Mr Mole's postage costs shot up between 2006 and 2007 from £7,200 to £13,600.
He said: “I do like to keep in touch with constituents and write a lot of letters, but I think the figures may have been slewed because my office paid for a large amount of postage just before the end of the financial year.
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“I also use e-mail, but I think it is important to reply when people contact me.”
His travel expenses of £3,151, all spent on rail travel, is one of the lowest in Suffolk. He said: “I don't use my car in London at all so I have claimed for rail travel between Ipswich and London, and rail travel around the capital.”
MPs can claim for first-class rail travel and a return ticket between Ipswich and London costs £81.
On that basis Mr Mole's claim represents about 35 return trips to the capital, with a bit left over to cover the cost of his Oyster card for tube trips around the capital.
Mr Mole bought a one-bedroomed flat in Pimlico, a former local authority property, two years ago - and claims the mortgage interest costs of that flat.
He said: “It is cheaper than when I was renting a bedsit and I can walk to my office in the House of Commons in just 15 minutes.”
In claiming just over £15,000 a year in interest payments, his is one of the lower interest claims in the House of Commons.
Suffolk's top claimer was Tim Yeo - whose expenses claim included £5,226 for car journeys.
MPs can claim 40p a mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p a mile after that - Mr Yeo's claim represents almost 19,000 miles on constituency business during the financial year 2006/7.
Mr Gummer made no mileage claim, even though he represents a rural constituency.
Central Suffolk MP Sir Michael Lord claimed the equivalent of 13,000 miles and David Ruffley's mileage claim adds up to just over 8,000 miles.
Most of the expenses claim for each MP covers the cost of staff - most have researchers or secretaries in both Westminster and their constituencies.
The amount Suffolk MPs spend on staff vary from £71,000 by Mr Gummer to £91,000 spent by Mr Mole.
Suffolk's MPs are among the also-rans of the expenses claims put through to the House of Commons.
Many of those with the highest claims, especially those claiming the largest travel expenses, are MPs from distant parts of the country, especially the far north of Scotland.
Suffolk MPs expenses:
MP Total expenses Travel expenses Postal expenses
Tim Yeo £148,496 £6,235 £1,576
Chris Mole £143,003 £3,151 £13,600
David Ruffley £136,963 £3,919 £4,831
Sir Michael Lord £120,814 £6,088 £1,499
John Gummer £112,870 £508 £2,055
What MPs can claim:
First class rail travel on business - those living further afield can claim the cost of air tickets.
Mileage rates of 40p a mile, reducing to 25p a mile after 10,000 miles.
The cost of a second home in London - up to £21,000 a year.
Staffing allowances - up to £91,000.