Two ministers topped the league table for Westminster expenses yesterday as MPs claimed almost £88m in allowances last year.
The pair faced accusations of profligacy after being paid an extra 5 per cent, well above the rate of inflation, for running their offices, London homes, travel, stationery, postage and stationery.
The total payments of £87,622,957 in 2006-07 were in addition to the £60,675 annual salary received by MPs, bringing the average cost to the taxpayer of a member of the House of Commons to almost £200,000.
The highest amount was paid to Shahid Malik, the MP for Dewsbury and an International Development minister. His claim of £185,421 included £95,230 for staff costs, £25,856 for his office and £21,266 for postage. An unrepentant Mr Malik said he had opened a town-centre office last year, enabling him to treble his constituency workload and deal with more than 2,000 local issues. He said: "I will continue to use all resources available to me to make a difference to my constituency."
Liam Byrne, the Immigration minister and MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, made the second highest claim of £178,116, including £28,170 on postage. He said: "When I was elected I promised to stay in touch with my constituents and I intend to honour that pledged."
The third highest amount was paid to Joan Ryan, the Enfield North MP who was a Home Office minister in the period covered. She received £173,691.
The highest-claiming Cabinet minister was Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, who was paid £157,076. He and his wife, Yvette Cooper, the Housing minister, claimed between them more than £307,000, including a combined £32,000 for the London home they share. They have been accused of breaking the spirit of the rules by using allowances to buy property in the capital.
Despite having grace and favour homes, four members of the Cabinet at the time – Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, John Prescott and Margaret Beckett, who was then foreign secretary – were paid a total of £60,000 towards London housing costs. Mr Brown claimed £135,525, including £17,017 for his London accommodation, £9,557 for air tickets and £2,812 on postage and stationery.
David Cameron, the Tory leader and MP for Witney, received £143,385, claiming £20,563 on London housing and £12,775 on postage and stationery. He spent £950 on car mileage, but nothing for travelling to the Commons by bicycle.
Siohhain McDonagh, the Labour MP for Mitcham & Morden, spent £49,107 on postage and stationery, almost £10,000 more than any other MP.
The largest travel bill, of £169,971, was claimed by Angus MacNeil, the Scottish Nationalist MP whose complaint sparked the police cash-for-honours' investigation and who represents the Western Isles.
Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP for Kettering, ran up the lowest bill, claiming just £44,551, followed by the veteran Labour leftwinger Dennis Skinner, with £67,891.
Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat who represents the Members Estimate Committee, which released the totals, said the figures showed MPs represented "excellent value for money".
But Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of the pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance, said MPs should be "ashamed of themselves". He added: "Families are struggling to pay higher tax bills while MPs are spending more and more of our money on themselves."
How much do MPs cost?
Shahid Malik (Lab, Dewsbury) £185,421
Included a total of £128,986 for staff, office and IT costs. Also spent £26,069 on letters.
Liam Byrne (Lab, Birmingham Hodge Hill)
Immigration minister had second highest postage and stationery bill.
Joan Ryan (Lab, Enfield North)£173,691
Claimed £21,971 on London housing, despite seat only 15 miles from Westminster
Dan Norris (Lab, Wansdyke) £172,733
Spent £16,287 on postage
Tim Farron (Lib Dem, Westmorland & Lonsdale)
Spent £11,559 travelling to his constituency.
Frank Doran (Lab, Aberdeen North)£171,836
Third highest travel bill at £29,684
Angus MacNeil (SNP, Western Isles)£169,971
Air travel cost £30,560
Tom Levitt (Lab, High Peak)£168,660
Postage and stationery bill of £31,615
Alex Salmond (SNP, Banff and Buchan)£166,814
The SNP leader claimed £14,441 in air tickets
David Mundell (Con, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale)£166,598
£5,664 in train tickets
Compiled by Bloomberg
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