DETAILS of MPs’ expenses published this week show Canterbury’s Julian Brazier to be the county’s top claimer. The Conservative, who also represents Whitstable, claimed £12,772 between May and August this year.
Faversham’s Hugh Robertson was close behind on £9,121, while Herne Bay MP and fellow Tory Roger Gale put in claims totalling £8,144. Thanet South Tory MP Laura Sandys claimed £6,007 of which £2,515 was for computer equipment and £3,185 was for pooled staffing costs.
The details were published under new arrangements introduced in the wake of the scandal surrounding the old system. The claims show that in total some £3.1m was paid to 576 MPs across Britain for 20,000 separate claims. No claims were recorded for MPs in Rochester and Strood, Tonbridge and Mailing and Gravesham. The lowest claim put in was for £463 by Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark.
Mr Brazier’s expenses included three £1,213 monthly payments on his London home, £485.96 for a yearly council tax bill and £1.27 for overseas stamps. Defending the claims on Monday, Mr Brazier said:
“Most Kent MPs are no longer allowed to claim for a second home, but because of the distance it is accepted that I cannot commute. I finished at 12.15am last night and that was a Sunday. I have a one-bedroom flat and claim rent well within the allowance. I cannot operate without a flat and I cannot afford to finance it myself – I receive no financial benefit from it.”
“I didn’t get caught up with the great scandal and there’s nothing here that wasn’t in the public domain anyway. I’ve always felt very strongly that the biggest and best way to guard against the things that happened in government before is to be completely transparent. I absolutely welcome the publishing of expenses.”
Mr Gale was shown to have claimed £992.67 on rent for his London home, £3,772.61 to cover rent on his constituency office and £459.85 for the quarterly rental of a photocopier. Slamming the new system, he said:
“It’s absolutely crazy and has got to change. The figures are completely misleading and don’t shine a true light on the different situations of MPs. Yes we need transparency, but not like this.”
Kentish Gazette, 9th Dec 2010