Tory Reading East MP Rob Wilson defends 9p expense claim
An MP who claimed 9p on expenses for a 352-yard car journey has defended the cost, but admitted such small claims may look "odd".
Rob Wilson, Conservative member for Reading East, has made a number of claims for short journeys, with many coming in under £1, but said over the course of a year the mileage "does add up".
During the financial year 2013-2014 the Minister for Civil Society claimed for a 528-yard journey in his car to attend a business meeting, at a cost of 13p, and a drive to a Google business event in his constituency costing him 68p.
The 9p journey was made on March 29 last year and labelled a "constituency engagement".
Mr Wilson also claimed 60p for a journey on his bicycle between his constituency office, the railway station and home, made in November last year.
The total for the year came to £173,885.42, of which payroll costs made up £141,731.88.
The claims, which are available to view on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) website, also cover parking fees, food and drink for both Mr Wilson and interns, rail journeys and office costs.
From the end of this month Mr Wilson's pay packet will rise to £74,000 in line with an IPSA recommendation for salary increases for MPs. His annual wage is also topped up by a ministerial entitlement.
The expense claims reflect an MP trying to "stay connected" and make as many visits as possible in the time available, Mr Wilson said.
He told the Metro news site: " I am a very active local MP and I get out and about to meet my constituents every week.
"I do use my car to cut down the travelling time so I can visit as many constituents and local organisations in the time available.
'Many of my journeys are over fairly short distances of a few miles, but with a number of visits each week, over a year the mileage does add up.
"I can see how small claims might look odd but it is important that all MPs do the job properly and stay connected with local people."
He also claimed that he has saved the taxpayer "hundreds of thousands of pounds over the past 10 years" by travelling to London by train instead of staying in hotels in the city or renting somewhere.
He said: " I have never claimed a single penny in accommodation expenses despite late Commons sittings. However, as I do commute most days it does mean I incur parking and mileage expenses instead.
"Whilst some may wish me to walk or cycle home after arrival at Reading Station late at night, my constituents understand that would not be practical."