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Winchester MP Steve Brine tops list of MP's expenses claims in Hampshire
He has the highest expense claims of any Hampshire MP in new figures released.
Mr Brine claimed £142,083, whilst the lowest was New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne on £86,894.
He said: “I am not a man of independent wealth. I claim what I need to claim to represent Winchester which is a very busy and very large constituency.”
Mr Brine pointed out that he pays high rent on his shop in Stockbridge Road, Fulflood, that helps make him accessible to the public.
“I aim to be the most open and accessible MP in Winchester history and to be a first-class constituency MP, like my predecessor. Some people do not have to claim but I am not a person of personal wealth.”
Expenses are managed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which was set up in the wake of the 2009 scandal which saw MPs castigated for bizarre claims and “flipping” their second homes to maximise profit.
Sir Ian Kennedy, IPSA chairman, said expenses claims were now published every month following the “shocking” reports in 2009.
He said three things were clear from yesterday’s publication.
“First, the expenses scandal is behind us. Remember what it was like – report after report of MPs claiming for all sorts of things; ‘flipping’ homes; no system of scrutiny; and all this behind closed doors. That world is behind us. We have overhauled the system and the expenses scandal is clearly history.
“Second, MPs are keeping to the rules. Ninety-nine per cent of claims are within the new rules. So it isn’t just us doing our job – MPs are behaving responsibly and claiming within the rules.
“Third, we are talking about significant sums of money. We should be clear about this. We are publishing the details of £89m worth of costs and expenses – about the same like-for-like sum as last year.”
Sir Ian said people had to expect a cost if they wanted a service from MPs, pointing out that the majority of the outlay related to staffing offices.
He added: “If we want a good service from our MPs, we have to fund them. And if you don’t think you get a good service from your MP, the answer is not to withhold funding – it is to use your vote.”