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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Push bike pushes MP expenses down
Ben Bradshaw MP
Mr Bradshaw travels standard class on the train to London
The MP who claimed the lowest expenses in Devon and Cornwall for 2006/7 says it is because he travels almost everywhere by bicycle.

Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter claimed 131,000 - more than 30,000 less than the South West average.

Devon and Cornwall's 16 MPs claimed a total of 2.6m last year, according to the House of Commons.

The most expensive claim of 161,000 was made by Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrat for Truro and St Austell.

Mr Taylor said his expenses had been higher than normal because he had to pay for cover when a member of his staff was absent.

MPs EXPENSES
160,831 - Matthew Taylor (Lib Dem, Truro & St Austell)
160,440 - Dan Rogerson (Lib Dem, North Cornwall)
160,379 - Andrew George (Lib Dem, St Ives)
156,846 - Linda Gilroy (Lab, Plymouth Sutton)
153,888 - Richard Younger-Ross (Lib Dem, Teignbridge)
148,978 - Julia Goldsworthy (Lib Dem, Falmouth & Camborne)
148,885 - Anthony Steen (Con, Totnes)
148,476 - Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem, Torbay)
145,767 - Nick Harvey (Lib Dem, North Devon)
145,390 - Alison Seabeck (Lab, Plymouth Devonport)
144,275 - Gary Streeter (Con, South West Devon)
143,262 - Geoffrey Cox (Con, Torridge & West Devon)
141,381 - Angela Browning (Con, Tiverton & Honiton)
140,786 - Hugo Swire (Con, East Devon)
133,501 - Colin Breed (Lib Dem, South East Cornwall)
131,118 - Ben Bradshaw (Lab, Exeter)

"Normally, with regards to travel etc, I'm spot in the middle of the bunch," he told BBC News.

The top three claims were from Cornish MPs who have to travel a greater distance to London.

The MPs' expenses - for staff, travel, office costs and living away from their homes - are in addition to their basic salary of about 60,000.

Mr Bradshaw, who also travels standard class on the train to Westminster, said he was aware of who foots the bill.

"It's important for all politicians and public servants to remember it's the people's money that's being spent," he said.

The Taxpayers' Alliance has condemned the scale of the claims.

Chief executive Matthew Elliott said: "Families are struggling to pay higher tax bills whilst MPs are spending more and more of our money on themselves each year.

"No wonder voters have little respect for politicians when they see so many MPs with their snouts in the trough."

But Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Devon, who sits on a committee which oversees expenses, insisted British voters got "excellent value for money" from their representatives .

"As well as playing a vital role in the House of Commons in debates, law making and scrutiny, MPs have to undertake frequent journeys between the constituency and Westminster and elsewhere," he said.

He added that all payments were subject to careful control and scrutiny.

Nationally, MPs claimed an average of 135,600. Devon and Cornwall's MPs claimed between 131,000 and 161,000.

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SEE ALSO
MPs' 87.6m expenses claim bill
25 Oct 07 |  UK Politics
Doubts over MPs' expense claims
14 Feb 07 |  UK Politics
MPs reveal travel expense claims
14 Feb 07 |  UK Politics

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