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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
MPs' 87.6m expenses claim bill
MPs claimed an average of 135, 600 each
MPs totted up 87.6m in expenses in the last financial year - a "like for like" rise of about 5% on the previous year, according to House of Commons figures.

The figures average out at about 135,600 an MP, on top of their basic salary of 60,277 and pension.

Labour minister Shahid Malik claimed the most at 185,421. Tory MP Philip Hollobone claimed the least - 44,551.

Nick Harvey MP, who is on the members' estimate committee, said taxpayers got "excellent value for money".

The previous year's total came to 86.8m, but was inflated by the general election as "winding up" payments were made to departing MPs. On a like-for-like basis, the increase amounts to about 5%.

High spender

Then chancellor Gordon Brown, Tory leader David Cameron and then Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell's claims were all around the average - at 135,525, 143,385 and 142,810 respectively.

But claims by Tony Blair, who was prime minister at the time, were comparatively low - amounting to 97,084.

DUP - 122,328
Labour - 138,366
Lib Dems - 140,756
Plaid Cymru - 146,069
SDLP - 142,015
Sinn Fein - 134,175
SNP - 154,231
Tories - 129,948

The highest-spender, Mr Malik - who represents a constituency in West Yorkshire - spent more than 21,000 on postage alone. Fellow minister Liam Byrne was the next highest spender at 178,116.

The 2006/7 payments are in addition to an MP's basic salary of 60,277 and a pension.

Lib Dem MP Mr Harvey said the cost of MPs was good value, compared to those in other countries.

'Control and scrutiny'

He added: "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.

"They also have to ensure that offices are fully staffed and properly equipped and provide the level of support and communication increasingly expected and demanded by constituents."

He said all payments were subject to "careful control and scrutiny".

But Matthew Elliott, head of pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance, said while families struggled to pay higher tax bills, MPs were 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," he said.

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