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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Scots MPs proving most expensive
Mohammad Sarwar
Mohammad Sarwar claimed the most expenses for Scottish MPs
Five Scottish MPs are included in the top 10 list of politicians who claimed the most expenses in the past year.

Labour's Glasgow Govan MP Mohammad Sarwar came in third claiming 157,262 on top of his 57,000 basic salary.

Labour MPs Eric Joyce, of Falkirk West, took 152,355 in fifth, while Jim Sheridan, of West Renfrewshire, was sixth claiming 150,355.

Anne Picking, of East Lothian, was next with 148,818 with the SNP's Angus Robertson in eighth place on 147,975.

Details of every MP's expenses were made public on a web site on Thursday by Westminster authorities.

Top 10 MP expense claims 2003/4
Claire Curtis-Thomas, Crosby, 168,889
Keith Vaz, Leicester East, 164,265
Mohammad Sarwar, Glasgow Govan, 157,262
Peter Pike, Burnley, 153,989
Eric Joyce, Falkirk West, 152,355
Jim Sheridan, West Renfrewshire, 150,355
Anne Picking, East Lothian, 148,818
Angus Robertson, Moray, 147,975
Andrew Dismore, Hendon, 147,650
Alan Simpson, Nottingham South, 147,338

Scottish MPs were also shown to have spent tens of thousands of pounds on travel expenses in the past year.

It revealed Ms Picking claimed nearly 40,000 in travel allowances and Mr Sarwar nearly 31,000 as part of their overall expenses.

In comparison, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond spent 28,000 while North Tayside's Peter Wishart was handed 24,000.

The SNP put the high cost of expenses down to the large size of its MPs' constituencies.

A spokesman said the party's MPs represented some of the largest areas in the country with Mr Wishart's constituting the fifth largest at 525,000 hectares.

The details of the expenses over the past three years were published ahead of changes to the Freedom of Information Act in January.

Public purse

They revealed the 659 members of the Commons claimed an average of 118,000 in allowances and expenses on top of the standard backbench salary of 57, 000.

The extra cash comes direct from the public purse to cover travel and office expenses and to run their second homes.

MPs are supposed to give receipts for bills of more than 250.

This is the first time that detailed breakdowns have been made available to the public.

WHAT THEY CAN CLAIM
120,000 - total possible
Second home - up to 20,902
Office space - up to 19,325
Staff costs - up to 77,534
Plus stationery and travel costs

Expenses claims are also made for travel at home and abroad at a rate of 57p a mile for cars or for first-class rail fares.

An MP can retire on 28,742 a year after 20 years in the Commons. They also receive a pay-off of up to 57,485 if they are defeated at a general election.

Sir Archy Kirkwood MP, for the House of Commons Commission, said: "This is a significant step towards openness and accountability and I welcome it.

"It's the first time that we have ever published so much information. The taxpayer can really see how their money is being spent."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How MPs spend millions in expenses every year



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