Blackpool MP named an expenses 'saint'

THE row over MPs' expenses has highlighted Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden as one of the most frugal parliamentarians.

Mr Marsden was name-checked by the Daily Telegraph when it turned its attention to those MPs who "have gone to great lengths to save every penny of taxpayers' money they can."

The paper, which has unmasked a host of unscrupulous claims, said Mr Marsden "keeps costs down by renting a small flat above an office in his constituency."

The MP, who also has a house in Brighton, told The Gazette he had always tried not to incur unnecessary expense.

He said: "When I was elected in 1997 as an MP, I already had a home base from which I could commute to Westminster and I didn't think it was right that I should claim mortgage, furniture or any other expenses on that.

"The Fees Office said the additional allowance should be claimed on the home I had in Blackpool, which I had since 1996.

"Having run a small business before I became an MP I had that experience of running budgets and not incurring unnecessary expenses.

"I've tried to be careful in my overall budgeting and I'm very conscious MPs should be in the business of trying to use public money very carefully.

"Both Joan Humble and I, pay rent, which is claimed from additional costs allowances.

"It means we have not benefited from that public money in building up a capital asset."

Blackpool North and Fleetwood MP Joan Humble owns a home in Blackpool and rents a flat in London.

Other MPs highlighted among the so-called expenses "saints" include Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather, MP for Brent East, who is one of seven Liberal Democrat MPs in the outer London area who refuse to claim any second homes allowances, despite being eligible for it.

Meanwhile Richard Benyon, the Conservative MP for Newbury, claimed nothing at all for his second home in London last year, and his total expenses claim was in the 20 lowest claims of any MP.