Price of democracy as Sheffield MPs’ expenses revealed

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Sheffield MPs say they are working hard to drive down their expenses costs - although there is a wide variation in claims made during 2012/13.

Figures published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority have given details of all expenses excluding staffing costs.

Large claim: John Healey

Large claim: John Healey

The amounts include office costs, travel and rental of second homes.

Lowest claims were by Brightside and Hillsborough MP David Blunkett and Hallam MP Nick Clegg.

A spokeswoman for Mr Blunkett said: “Unlike many MPs, Mr Blunkett fully acknowledges that he has been able to meet some costs from writing and speaking.

“This places him in a position to be able to do more independently, but he believes that under the new system, all MPs of whatever party, are putting through legitimate claims in meeting the enormous pressures of operating in two places in every week.

Frugal: David Blunkett

Frugal: David Blunkett

“David also buys advance rail tickets but at less than the normal rate because he can use a Disabled railcard.”

One of the biggest claims in Yorkshire was made by Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey, who said his claim was ‘unusually high’ to cover the cost of office refurbishment.

Paul Blomfield made the highest claim in Sheffield.

He said: “Expenses cover the costs of running my constituency office, travelling and rent for my London flat.”

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith is now ‘watching the pennies’ to the extent of bulk buying paper to drive down office costs.

Transport Secretary and Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin, whose constituency borders Sheffield, made 26 of 39 rail trips in first class.

Former Rotherham MP Denis MacShane was paid £3,300 for winding-up costs after resigning over false expenses allegations.

Expenses claims 2012/13 excluding staff costs:

Clive Betts- Sheffield South East: £48,269.25

Paul Blomfield - Sheffield Central: £52,098.74

David Blunkett - Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: £36,280.89

Nick Clegg - Sheffield Hallam: £36,338.67

Meg Munn - Sheffield Heeley: £42,958.30

Angela Smith - Penistone and Stocksbridge: £39,109.74

Patrick McLoughlin - Derbyshire Dales: £36,036.15

John Healey - Wentworth and Dearne: £57,940.39

Natascha Engel - North Eaqst Derbyshire: £52,832.46

Toby Perkins - Chesterfield: £36,580.49

First Class travel defended

Sheffield MPs have defended use of first-class rail travel while commuting to London.

Politicians said it was only where advance tickets were available which are often almost as cheap as standard walk-on fares.

Angela Smith, Labour MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: “Sometimes the difference is £3 or £4 and it is easier to work in first class.”

Clive Betts, Sheffield South East MP, said: “Advance first tickets are cheaper than walk-on standard class.”

Hallam MP Nick Clegg made three first-class rail journeys in 2012/13 while Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband normally travels in standard.