Cornwall MP Stephen Gilbert claims more than £185k in expenses
NEWQUAY and St Austell's MP has been shown to have the second highest expenses in the country after claiming more than £185,000.
Stephen Gilbert claimed a total of £185,811.07 for the year 2011 to 2012. In addition he also received an advance of £4,000 and an accommodation deposit of £3,780. The expenses claims were on top of his basic salary of £65,738.
Information published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) also revealed Mr Gilbert employs his mother Jackie Bull as a senior caseworker.
Mrs Bull, who is also a Cornwall councillor, was paid between £10,000 and £14,999.
The claims were mainly for staff pay with Mr Gilbert spending £122,697.33 on payroll.
In a statement Mr Gilbert said: "A number of one-off events stretched the budget last year including a significant office team restructure with associated redundancy payment costs.
"On top of that I spent the first six months of the Parliament benefiting from free London accommodation, and so 2011-2012 was the first to reflect a full year's rental cost for London accommodation."
On the subject of his mother's job as a caseworker for him, he added: "As both a serving Cornwall Councillor and the former senior welfare officer for Imerys, Jackie brings a huge experience of helping people, considerable administrative expertise and awareness of local issues to my office ensuring that we are able to promptly and properly deal with the range of issues that people raise with us."
Mr Gilbert said he remained "absolutely committed" to ensuring he got the best value for money as his team served the people of St Austell and Newquay.
He said: "I will continue to meet the pledges on MPs' expenses I set out in 2010. I said I would never claim expenses for food in London, wouldn't have a second job during my time as an MP, and would publish my claims through my website – I haven't, I don't and I do."
The lowest expenses claims in Cornwall were made by Truro and Falmouth Conservative MP Sarah Newton who claimed a total of £117,439.43. Mrs Newton made no expense claims at all for accommodation and just £360 for travel and subsistence.
Fellow Conservative MP George Eustice, Camborne and Redruth, had one of the highest travel expense claims of £12,160.38.
He said: "My expenses are quite low and some of the lowest in the country.
"I have managed to cut the cost of the MP's office by 40 per cent compared to my predecessor."
Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers will certainly be left wondering how MPs representing nearby seats can end up spending vastly different amounts.
"While MPs should be judged on their records by their constituents and not just a financial league table, these large variations should prompt taxpayers to seek explanations from those claiming the largest amounts.
"Taxpayers will expect bills to be kept under control as they draw their own conclusions as to whether they are getting value for money."