MPs' second homes cost taxpayers £80k

THE Fylde coast's four MPs claimed just over £80,000 between them for their second homes in the last financial year, according to figures released by Parliament.

Blackpool North and Fleetwood MP Joan Humble, and Wyre MP Ben Wallace, claimed the maximum allowance of 24,006 for the 12 months from April 2008 to April 2009.

Fylde MP Michael Jack claimed 23,402.55, while Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden claimed 8,958.92.

Mr Marsden is the only one of the Fylde's Parliamentarians who does not have to maintain a London home. He travels to Westminster from his house in Brighton, which he has had since before he was elected, and uses his second home allowance to claim on his property in Blackpool.

The bulk of his claims are for monthly rent of 525, with utility bills, food, and TV licence making up the rest.

Mr Marsden said: "It's basic stuff which is necessary to support a second home. It's my home in the constituency.

"I have always worked on the principle that one claims for the costs you have to incur but some people are in different circumstances."

Most of Mrs Humble's second home claims are for rent, but she pays 1,938 a month for accommodation in the City of Westminster. Utility bills, food, and TV licence make up the rest.

She said: "In order to do my job I have to have a second home in London and central London rents are expensive. My rent is the same this year as for last year.

"New rules have been brought in and MPs are expected to shop around and when my lease expires, that's what I will do.

"I think it's important we have transparency of the process and that people can see what we claim for.

"This year, the rules have been tightened up even more and that's to be welcomed."

Mr Jack and Mr Wallace's claims include payments towards mortgages and for utilities.

Mr Jack has also claimed for household objects, kitchen improvements and a monthly subscription to Sky TV.

He said: "The 2008/9 claims have been subject to an independent audit and in my case have not been queried and that is all I want to say on it."

Wyre MP Ben Wallace's claims include around 335 for plumbing repairs, 229.95 on a fridge and 159 for Ikea furniture.

He said: "I have an ex-council flat and haven't spent money on anything trivial. I'm sure I'm allowed a fridge and the furniture is a table and chairs.

"I don't think it's unreasonable to call a plumber if there is a sewage back-up.

"All this information has been on my website since June and July.

People can look at it and make their own decisions."