Ian Paisley defends having highest expenses claim by any MP
Ian Paisley has defended claiming more expenses than any other MP, describing them as "unavoidable costs".
The North Antrim MP (below) was closely followed by his party colleague, Strangford MP Jim Shannon, who claimed the second highest total of all 650 MPs in the House of Commons in the 2012/2013 parliamentary term.
Mr Paisley received total costs of £232,042.33 to April 2013, according to figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) yesterday.
Of this, £131,837.76 went on a payroll for his four full-time and two part-time staff, while £69,943.21 went on parliamentary expenses.
These include £24,904.13 on accommodation, and £45,039.08 on travel and other expenses.
He also claimed £28,761.36 for office cost allowances which include electricity bills, stationery, newspapers and rent.
These expenses do not include Mr Paisley's basic salary as an MP of £65,738. Last year Mr Paisley was the seventh highest claimer in the UK.
In a statement Mr Paisley justified the claims, saying that his constituency benefits.
"The business expenses are unavoidable costs that an MP incurs whilst running a busy constituency office and commuting to Parliament," he said.
"I am doing a full-time job with one of the highest speaking records in the Parliament. I also ask an above average number of questions to the Government.
"I host a significant number of constituent visits to Parliament even during recess. As a result, my constituency has benefited in terms of coverage, jobs and investment."
Mr Paisley added: "Once again I stress, none of this money goes to me as MP or my family. They are legitimate expenses signed off by IPSA and paid directly by the Parliament."
The DUP's Jim Shannon claimed the second highest expenses with a total of £220,198.15.
He claimed £157,648.94 to pay staff working for him, £26,593.48 for office costs, £11,112.00 for accommodation and £24,843.73 for travel and substitence.
The expense claims show which MPs employ family members.
DUP MPs Jeffrey Donaldson employs his wife as a senior secretary with a salary of between £20,000 and £24,999, Gregory Campbell employs his wife as a secretary with a salary of between £15,000 and £19,999, and William McCrea employs his son-in-law as a senior caseworker on between £20,000 and £24,999.
Overall the bill for MPs' expenses rose by more than 7% last year to £98m.
Spending is now higher than in the run-up to the scandal that rocked Westminster in 2009.
Most of the rise was down to larger staffing – but the cost of MPs' personal expenses also rose from £23.5m in 2011-12 to £23.8m last year.
Expenses at a glance
- Gregory Campbell (DUP) £130,352.47
- Nigel Dodds (DUP) £135,306.12
- Pat Doherty (Sinn Fein) £136,707.87
- Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP) £176,952.12
- Mark Durkan (SDLP) £138,005.48
- Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Fein) £95,941.58
- Naomi Long (Alliance) £159,265.82
- Sylvia Hermon (Independent) £150,923.46
- Paul Maskey (Sinn Fein) £107,860.62
- William McCrea (DUP) £186,462.41
- Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) £172,314.70
- Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein) £64,895.06
- Conor Murphy (Sinn Fein) £127,302.08
- Ian Paisley (DUP) £232,042.33
- Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) £179,724.73
- Jim Shannon (DUP) £220,198.15
- David Simpson (DUP) £162,717.48
- Sammy Wilson (DUP) £149,101.21
MPs are permitted to claim expenses to run an office and pay staff to work for them as well as to travel to Westminster and other reasonable costs associated with carrying out their job. Expenses hit the headlines in 2009 when it emerged that some MPs had been claiming for services such as having their moat cleaned. The system was then reviewed.