THE latest MP scandal has lead to the media spotlight being shone once again on Members of Parliament’s expenses.
Conservative culture secretary Maria Miller was forced to resign after her claims for a property in London hit the headlines and her abrupt apology led to a public outcry.
The Warrington Guardian delved into Warrington North MP Helen Jones and Warrington South MP David Mowat’s expenses to see how they have been spending tax-payers’ cash in the last three years and found the pair have clocked up £819,123.42 in total in expenses since 2010.
The claims for cash, which are all perfectly legal and displayed on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) website for voters to peruse, range from £2.95 on food and drink at parliament to more than £15,000 in office costs in the last year.
Following the expenses scandal in 2009, IPSA was introduced to oversee MP allowances and has so far found Mr Mowat has been good to his promise of never claiming food or living expenses in London instead spending more than £11,000 on train and petrol costs to London in the last year and £300 on two hotel rooms.
Mrs Jones has spent more than £6,000 on travel costs and food including receipts ranging from £2.30 up to £15 in 2012/13 as well as more than £19,000 on rented accommodation during the same period.
Office costs also vary between the two MPs with Helen Jones spending more than £22,000 on rent, phone bills, a folding machine lease and paper and paper clips among other items.
The MP's office did not wish to comment.
While David Mowat spent more than £20,000 on staffing and office expenses including sticky notes, ink cartridges and £1,800 on ‘press and media support’.
Mr Mowat added: “Before I became an MP I made three pledges to the people of Warrington South – that I would only claim for travel and the cost of maintain offices in both Warrington and Westminster.
“In particular, I would not claim living or food expenses in London, I would not employ any member of my family and that I would make sure that details of every penny I claimed were made public.
“I have delivered on all those promises.
“I quite understand why people are angry at abuses that have taken place in the past.
“A number of MPs have since been jailed – and rightly so. Now it is important that our system is open, transparent and commands public confidence.”
WARRINGTON MPs’ shopping list in 2012/13.
Warrington North MP Helen Jones’ expenses totalled £171,191.49 including:
£1,516.66 rising to £1,583.33 in rent each month
£3.69 for petrol travelling from home to the train station
£27 for parking at the station
Warrington South MP David Mowat’s expenses totalled £138,669.00 including:
£289 on a return train fare to London
£16.80 on an office fire extinguisher
£577.50 on an office roof leak