Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 11:28 UK

Dodds' expenses bill NI's highest

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds had the highest expenses bill of any Northern Ireland MP

Investigations are continuing at Westminster to discover how details of MPs' expenses were leaked to the media.

House of Commons officials are trying to establish how details of the Home Secretary's expenses were made available to a national newspaper.

Figures released this week showed North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds had the highest expenses of Northern Ireland MPs.

Sinn Fein's five MPs, who refuse to take their seats, chalked up about £650,000 in parliamentary costs.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew spent £138,272 and party president and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams accrued expenses of £137,943.

West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty spent £136,423 and his party colleague, Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness, accrued costs of £136,423 on staffing, travel and office expenses.

Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy's travel staffing and office costs totalled £132,361.

13th highest

Meanwhile, Mr Dodds' expenses bill was the 13th highest of all MPs.

The DUP deputy leaders' expenses towards travel, staffing and running an office totalled £171,609.

His DUP colleague, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson spent £161,095, with the South Antrim MP Willie McCrea spending £159,852.

David Simpson, the DUP MP for Upper Bann, spent £158,903 with his party colleague Sammy Wilson the MP for East Antrim spending £156,932.

The office, travel and staffing costs of Ian Paisley, the North Antrim MP, totalled £139,565.

SDLP MPs Eddie McGrady and Alasdair McDonnell both accrued expenses of £156,000.

Their party leader, Mark Durkan the Foyle MP spent, £149,364 and his constituency neighbour Gregory Campbell of the DUP spent a total of £136, 213.

The Ulster Unionists sole Westminster representative Lady Sylvia Hermon spent £134,004.

The lowest spenders amongst Northern Ireland MPs were Peter and Iris Robinson. The MP for East Belfast spent £128,000 and his wife, the MP for Strangford, accrued travel staffing and office costs of £125,000.

Review

Commenting on Mr Dodds expenses a DUP spokesman said the the North Belfast MP was a regular attender at Westminster and as a result his expenses would be higher than others.

The spokesman added that during this time the North Belfast MP was also the party's chief whip at Westminster which meant he had to make extra trips to London.

A spokesman for Sinn Fein said the party used a flat and a house in London when their MPs visited London. He said the party's five MPs only applied for expenses that they were entitled to.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life will start a review into MPs' allowances as soon as possible.

MPs are paid an annual salary of £63,291 and receive allowances for the costs of running an office, having homes both near Westminster and in their constituency, and travelling between both.

In October 2007, the average claimed by each MP was £135,600 a year.



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