Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 16:56 UK

MP submitted claim for 300 pen

Iris and Peter Robinson
Mrs Robinson's husband Peter is Northern Ireland's first minister

DUP MP Iris Robinson submitted a receipt in her Westminster expenses claims for a £300 fountain pen.

The Strangford MP's receipt was one of thousands published by the House of Commons on Thursday.

In 2006, Mrs Robinson submitted a receipt for £352 - the printed receipt showed a £300 Montblanc pen, a £6 bottle of ink and £46 for perfume.

However the DUP said the claim was an error and Mrs Robinson was not reimbursed for these items.

A spokesman said the mistake had been made by Mrs Robinson's office.

"The Fees Office was correct not to process these items," he added.

"Mrs Robinson has one of lowest expense claims of all the Northern Ireland MPs, as well as being in the lowest 15% of expense claims in the House of Commons."

Last month it was reported that Mrs Robinson and her husband Peter, who is NI's first minister, claimed about £30,000 for food in parliamentary expenses over a four-year period.

Leaked expenses also showed the DUP couple claimed £160,000 in mortgage interest payments between 2004 and 2008.

I think if MPs slept on a park bench and starved themselves that would still be too much for some people
Peter Robinson

These were claimed for an apartment owned by the couple in London.

Mr Robinson said the money was claimed legitimately but both he and his party believed the system needed reform.

"There's a world of difference between those who legitimately claim within the rules and those who are clearly operating outside the rules," he said.

"I'd be pretty sure that the amount that I actually spend would be more than that for which I have claimed."

He said whatever system was introduced, some people would still not be happy.

"I think if MPs slept on a park bench and starved themselves that would still be too much for some people," he said.

MPs are entitled to claim up to £400 per month in food bills while away from their main home on parliamentary business. Receipts are not required.



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