MPs’ travel expenses revealed
A BREAKDOWN of how MPs from Comet country spent their travel expenses has been revealed. Out of the five MPs, four of them spent more on travelling by car, claiming almost £14,000 between them, than they did by using the more environmentally friendly rail
A BREAKDOWN of how MPs from Comet country spent their travel expenses has been revealed.
Out of the five MPs, four of them spent more on travelling by car, claiming almost £14,000 between them, than they did by using the more environmentally friendly rail travel, £5,084.
Although only one MP did buck the trend, Oliver Heald, MP for North East Hertfordshire, he was also the only MP who claimed money back on air travel.
Mr Heald spent £3,225 travelling by car, £3,714 by rail and £386 by air.
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Speaking about the expenses breakdown, Mr Heald said: "I supported the original decision to publish the allowances.
"My own figures reflect my front bench role shadowing two cabinet ministers and being called on to make visits around the UK including Northern Ireland. I visit Brussels as required.
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"I also travel around the North East Hertfordshire constituency which is by far the largest in Herts, double the next in size.
"I travel by train, particularly to London and on longer journeys, as much as possible and offset my carbon with Climate care."
Stevenage MP Barbara Follett was the thriftiest of all five MPs and the £2,277 she claimed, all of it on car expenses, made her the 559th lowest claimer in Parliament.
Mrs Follett said: "I was perfectly happy to have my travel expenses disclosed and, as one of the MPs with the lowest claim [in Hertfordshire], I felt the money was well spent.
"Ideally, I would like to spend less next year on travel but suspect it will be much the same. I intend to use the train, as I do now, as often as I reasonably can.
Nadine Dorries, who spent more than twice as much on car travel than by railway travel, said a lack of high quality and reliable public transport in her rural constituency means she has no choice but to use her car more.
Mrs Dorries, who spent £5,560 on car travel, said: "This is one of the reasons why I have been a vocal supporter against the proposed cuts in bus services in much of Bedfordshire.
"If genuine alternatives to use public transport locally were more readily available, then I would take full advantage of such an opportunity. Until they are, I will continue to be heavily dependent on my car to attend events and meet my constituents."
Alistair Burt, the MP for North East Bedfordshire, was on the Local Government Bill committee when asked to comment and could only say he was perfectly happy with the disclosure of the information.
A spokesman said that Mr Burt was very open about expenses and on his website he showed the breakdown himself, and travel had actually gone down for the 2005/06 year.
Although the overall figures for travel expenses were revealed last year this recent disclosure is the first time a breakdown of them has been made public.
The information was placed into the public domain following a two-year battle with the House of Commons authorities by Lib Dem MP Norman Baker.
The MP who topped the overall list of all expenses was Falkirk MP Eric Joyce who claimed £44,985.