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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
MPs' expenses claims exceed 86m
MPs claimed an average 122,677
MPs claimed almost 86.8m in expenses and allowances last year, an increase of nearly 6m on the previous year, House of Commons figures show.

The 2005/06 payments - about 131,000 per MP - come on top of a basic salary of 59,686 and a pension.

Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed 87,342, with Tory leader David Cameron on 135,729 and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell taking 123,617.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Gordon Brown claimed 134,586.

Winding up

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was reimbursed for 115,013 and Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett 132,996.

Part of this year's overall rise comes because the figures include 4m claimed by MPs who retired or lost their seats at the last general election.

This covered winding-up allowances for the unfinished casework they carried over.

MPs claimed 80,844,465 altogether in 2004/05 - an average of about 122,000.

It's not surprising people think politicians have got their snouts in the trough
Matthew Elliott
TaxPayers' Alliance

Up to 87,276 is available for salaries for researchers, secretaries and other staff.

Other allowances can be claimed for travel on parliamentary business, office costs, stationery, postage and computer equipment.

MPs representing constituencies outside central London can claim about 20,000 for the cost of staying near Parliament.

Ministers whose London accommodation is paid for by the taxpayer, such as the prime minister in Downing Street, can receive the money for their constituency homes.

'Better value'

The Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, Norman Baker, told the BBC most of the expenses were justified.

He said: "It's actually better value than it is in many other countries such as America and most of the European countries.

"Most of the money goes on staff salaries - that's included in there - our researchers, our constituency staff, our diary people and so on.

"There's also elements in there for our rent of our offices in the constituency, telephones, heating and so on and there's an element as well - which is the bit that's unregulated in my view properly - for the second home in London, where you can stay overnight if you're on parliamentary business."

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance pressure group, said: "Politicians have forced families to budget hard by raising taxes, but politicians don't think the same rules apply to them personally and they continue to run up massive expense accounts.

"They also refuse to provide any detailed breakdown of their expenses so people have no idea what they're spending our money on.

"It's not surprising people think politicians have got their snouts in the trough."

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