Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

DUP MP Ian Paisley claimed almost £19,000 in food expenses

Full up: Former first minister Ian Paisley claimed almost £19,000 in four years

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley claimed almost £19,000 for MP food expenses in four years, ending up with one of the highest totals in Parliament.

The senior DUP man repeatedly received the maximum £400 monthly total for food — including during the period when he was double jobbing as Stormont First Minister.

He also made maximum claims during months when the Commons was in recess.

Mr Paisley’s food expenses total over the four years was higher than the £15,000 that DUP couple Peter and Iris Robinson each received. They faced sharp controversy last month when their joint £30,000 figure was made public by the Daily Telegraph.

Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph named Mr Paisley as among 32 MPs who claimed the maximum £400 per month throughout 2007/08. It reported the details for these politicians under the heading: “Who ate all the pies?”

Mr Paisley was First Minister from May 2007 to June 2008, which gave him an annual salary from politics of some £140,000.

Three of his children are on his Commons payroll while his wife Baroness Paisley is a Member of the House of Lords.

The MP food expenses system — which was scrapped last year — did not require members to produce receipts to support their monthly totals.

They did have to sign a declaration stating that the bills had been incurred “wholly, exclusively and necessarily to enable me to stay overnight away from my only or main home for the purpose of performing my duties as a Member of Parliament”.

Critics of the system have pointed out that restaurant facilities at the Commons benefit from an annual subsidy of £4m-£5m.

Mr Paisley’s food expenses between 2004 and 2008 came to £18,500. According to the official documents published online yesterday, July 2005 was the only month when a claim for food was not submitted. The £400 maximum was received at other times.

The DUP MP’s London living expenses also included rental expenses of around £1,100 a month. His office-running bills in the four years, meanwhile, included £2,678 for replacement furniture in June-July 2007.

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