SOUTH Yorkshire MPs made six of the 10 highest expenses claims in the Yorkshire and Humber region during 2010/11, according to records released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
And disgraced former Barnsley Central MP Eric Illsley, jailed for fiddling his expenses, ran up the second highest claim of any MP in the country with £151,000 - partly as a result of the cost of winding up his office after resigning from his seat when he was imprisoned.
He received a 12-month sentence after admitting claiming £14,500 of expenses to which he was not entitled.
The figures for expenses claims in 2010/11 are the first full year’s statistics since a new, tougher claims system was introduced in the wake of the expenses scandal.
Of the largest claims made in Yorkshire and the Humber, Illsley came top. Clive Betts, Angela Smith, John Healey and David Blunkett were fourth to seventh in the top 10, and new MP Paul Blomfield was tenth.
But Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband filed the second cheapest claim - a total of just over £74,000 - with only Rotherham-born Foreign Secretary William Hague, who represents Richmond, in North Yorkshire, claiming less - £71,000.
South Yorkshire’s newest MP Dan Jarvis, who replaced Illsley in March, is included in the IPSA figures which cover April 2010 to the end of March this year but had only submitted one £520.10 claim, for travel expenses.
The new system is supposed to improve openness and transparency and ‘help restore public confidence in Parliament’, according to IPSA.
But Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith, who had the fifth-highest expenses bill in Yorkshire and the Humber, said the figures do not reflect the fact that MPs such as Mr Clegg and Mr Hague make most journeys as ministers so have lower expenses claims, and that Mr Miliband also has many of his expenses covered by sponsorship, as Labour leader.
Meanwhile, constituency MPs such as herself have to cover all costs through expenses claims.
Ms Smith, who said her own costs over the past year have been higher because of moving her constituency office due to boundary changes, added: “There is a cost to democracy and the figures reflect the amount needed to do the job properly.
“We have an increasing demand from constituents and, unlike MPs who are ministers, I have to meet all costs through expenses claims. One thing I would point out to people is that my claims have remained similar to previous years, despite increasing costs.”
Mr Clegg said: “It is true that some of my costs are covered but I have higher bills than some other ministers, because I have no grace and favour accommodation. I have rooms at a country pile in Kent but they are only for entertaining in my role as Deputy Prime Minister and are not a residence - my home is with my family.”
Emma Boon, of the Tax Payers’ Alliance, said: “It’s fantastic that MPs’ expenses are now more transparent but it’s a kick in the teeth for taxpayers to see that the convicted criminal Eric Illsley was one of the big claimers last year.”