MP's biscuit claim among expenses

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BISCUITS, soap and drinking glasses are just some of the expenses claimed by a Fylde coast MP.

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and the Cleveleys, has claimed for biscuits, mugs, handwash, glasses and coasters since he was elected in May.

In total, the newly elected MP claimed 10,007.77 over the five months since the General Election.

It was the two new MPs who claimed the most money while settling in to their role with Fylde MP Mark Menzies claiming 10,277.06.

Blackpool South member Gordon Marsden claimed 3,647.80 while Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw took back 1,155.22 compared to 8,846.84 claimed by Ben Wallace, MP for Wyre and Preston North.

Mr Maynard's expenses included 264 on blinds for his constituency office, 31 on soap, glasses and biscuits, 13 on mugs and handwash and 11 on coasters and a tray.

He defended his expenses, saying he had to set up an office in Blackpool and the handwash and mugs were essential.

He said: "As part of being a newly elected MP there were a number of expenses where I had to maintain hygiene and keep facilities to a certain standard."

When asked why he had claimed for relatively minor items, he added: "In my Westminster office I have blinds which are funded by the taxpayer, so I see no difference in my constituency office."

After public outrage last Spring about MPs claims for certain items deemed excessive, it was decided more transparency was needed.

An inquiry ruled the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) should publish the expense claims of the 576 MPs elected in May, and make them available for public scrutiny.

Ben Wallace claimed expenses on a variety of different items including mortgage interest, travel by car and taxi, and numerous items of stationery.

Mr Menzies spent 3,288.21 on hotels and the majority of the rest of the money was 3,877.50 spent on researchers to help with constituents' inquiries.

He said: "It's very important that when you're spending taxpayers' money you give people reassurance money is being spent well and if you cannot justify the money spent, you cannot spend it.

Gordon Marsden and Eric Ollerenshaw supported the website, having claimed most of their expenses on rail travel and rent.

Mr Marsden said: "The principle of transparency is an important one and one which I support."

Receipts of expenses were not printed on the website, something Mr Ollerenshaw said should have been included to further scrutinize MPs.

He added: "This is a step in the right direction, because the public can see where their money is going, but if there are no receipts there is going to be questions."

Mr Wallace was unavailable for comment.