Leeds MP was most expensive in country

Greg Mulholland MP.

Greg Mulholland MP.

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A Leeds MP claimed more on his expenses than any other Member of Parliament last year, new figures reveal.

Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland claimed more than £188,000 in staff salaries and expenses during 2011/12 – the highest in the UK.

Mr Mulholland said his costs had been unusually high because two people working in his constituency office had been off work sick for more than six months.

As a result, the Leeds North West MP was forced to apply to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) for extra funding.

A statement from his office said: “Mr Mulholland’s staffing costs were higher than in previous years as a result of the ongoing health problems of two members of staff in his constituency office, both of whom were unable to work for more than six months.

“To ensure he could continue to fulfil his parliamentary duties ... he had no option but to apply to Ipsa’s contingency budget.

“The additional costs were closely scrutinised and approved by IPSA.

“Mr Mulholland is pleased these problems of ill health have now passed, and anticipates his costs will return to normal in the current year.”

In all, the bill for MPs’ expenses went up by a quarter to nearly £90 million last year, with politicians spending the money on second homes, staff, travel and office costs - including dozens of iPads.

But Ipsa – set up in 2009 in the wake of the expenses scandal – said the actual rate of claims had remained “stable”.

Although the total outlay for 2010-11 had been only £71 million, that figure was misleadingly low because of the impact of the general election.

Chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said the rate of claims had actually been about the same last year, and that 99 per cent were within the rules.

“The expenses scandal is behind us,” Sir Ian said.

“Remember what it was like? Report after report of MPs claiming for all sorts of things – ‘ flipping’ homes; no system of scrutiny; and all this behind closed doors.

“That world is behind us. We have overhauled the system.”

Paul Pilotille.

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