Page last updated at 19:04 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 20:04 UK

Frugal MP wants expenses rethink

Desmond Swayne MP says he travels after 10am to get cheaper train fares

A Hampshire MP in the lowest 10 in Westminster for expenses claims has called for an overhaul of the system.

Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West, claimed £90,874 in the year up to March 2008 - the average was £135,600.

The Conservative MP jogs to his nearest railway station and travels after 1000am to ensure the lowest ticket cost to get to the Houses of Parliament.

He said he suspected "a ghastly chamber in hell is being reserved" for MPs who enjoy the "full benefit" of allowances.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has announced it plans to bring forward its inquiry into MPs' expenses.

It follows newspaper revelations about the use of second-home allowances by MPs, including the under-fire Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

We have to persuade people that when the interests of the nation requires it, turkeys can be persuaded to vote for Christmas
Desmond Swayne

Mr Swayne said: "We have to take steps that bring back some faith in politicians.

"We've got to completely overhaul this allowance system.

"We have to persuade people that when the interests of the nation require it, turkeys can be persuaded to vote for Christmas.

"Otherwise they might to start to really treat us like turkeys."

He said he was competitive about lowering his expenses and was proud to be in the lowest 10.

"I don't want to be in the top 10 and under the scrutiny the people in the top 10 will be under.

"The world is in a pretty bad state, people starving, homeless, jobless and we members of Parliament are put in a position of influence at this time, and what did we do?

"We enjoyed the full benefit of our allowances.

"I suspect that the most ghastly chamber in hell is being reserved for us."

But Labour Reading West MP Martin Salter said: "We are there to try and sort things out for our constituents and to raise issues on the floor of the House of Commons.

"To do that we need resources and to provide a professional service."



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