Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Tuesday, 26 February 2008

A guide to MPs' pay and expenses

Commons Speaker Michael Martin is leading a review into the MPs expenses system. Here is a look at the pay and expenses and allowances MPs can claim - which amounted to an average of 135,600 per MP last year.

MPs were paid 60,675 last year - their pay is increased each year by a formula linked to senior civil servants' pay and is reviewed every five years. They also have a final salary pension scheme, with contributions set at 10% of their salary and a current "accrual rate" - the proportion of salary received for each year of service - of 1/40th.

There is no limit on the amount of travel expenses MPs can claim - but it is subject to certain rules. They can claim business class air fares and first class rail travel for Parliamentary business within the UK and up to three visits a year to European institutions, as well as up to 15 return journeys a year for spouses or children. MPs can also claim for staff travel - up to 12 return journeys a year between Westminster and their constituency. Overall MPs claimed 4.5m in travel expenses last year.

Drivers can claim 40p a mile for the first 10,000 miles then 25p a mile, cyclists get 20p a mile while motorcyclists can claim 24p a mile. These rates can be claimed for journeys between Westminster, their constituency and their main home.

Drawn up to cover MPs' additional costs of staying overnight away from their main home, the ACA is worth up to 23,083 a year - although it cannot be claimed by MPs representing inner London boroughs. It was the subject of a recent Information Tribunal hearing, where campaigners sought to force House of Commons authorities to produce a more detailed breakdown of claims. The tribunal heard that MPs can claim up to 250 on any "allowable" item - such as workmen's bills - without showing a receipt, as well as up to 400 a month on food - again without a receipt. This figure was reduced from 250 to 25 in April. Other costs, which can be claimed back but require receipts, include mortgage interest payments, rent, hotel expenses and refurbishment.

This can only be claimed by MPs representing inner London constituencies and is worth up to 2,812.

Worth up to 21,339, this allowance is aimed at costs incurred in the course of an MP's duty - such as accommodation costs, office equipment and supplies.

Worth up to 90,505 a year, this allows MPs to employ staff, but is paid directly to staff by the Commons finance department. MPs can transfer funds from the Incidental Expenses Allowance (IEP) to the staffing allowance and up to 10% of the staffing allowance can be transferred to the IEP, as long as the MP runs a constituency office. There are currently no rules to stop MPs employing their spouse or other relative and paying them using the staffing allowance, indeed well over 100 are known to do so. Changes currently being proposed mean MPs would have to declare if they employ a relative.

There is no limit to the amount of stationery an MPs can order but it must be used for strictly Parliamentary purposes, such as constituency correspondence.

IT equipment is centrally provided and maintained. The standard package available for MPs is three PCs, printers and scanners worth about 3,000.

Worth a maximum of 37,281, this allowance is paid to cover the costs of any work on Parliamentary business done on behalf of an MP who has died, retired or lost his seat.

Introduced in 2007 it allows claims of up to 10,000 a year "to assist in the work of communicating with the public on parliamentary business". It can be spent on things like regular reports, constituency newsletters, websites and contact cards. It cannot be spent on party political, fundraising or election campaigning.

Paid to MPs who lose their seat or stand down at a general election - it is based on their age and length of service and amounts to between 50% and 100% of their annual salary. The Senior Salaries Review Board has recommended this be reviewed.

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