St Albans MP has been keeping her expenses down

Anne Main, St Albans MP

Anne Main, St Albans MP - Credit: Debbie White/Archant

Tens of thousands of pounds have been saved from the public purse after St Albans MP Anne Main made no claims for accommodation over the past four years and less than £300 for travel since 2011.

A Herts Advertiser investigation into expenses claimed by Mrs Main, along with Hitchin and Harpenden MP, Peter Lilley, shows that more than one million pounds has been claimed for staff, office costs, travel and accommodation by our two local MPs during the past five years.

Latest figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) show that for the most recent financial year 2014/15, compared to the previous 12 months, Mr Lilley’s claims rose by 3.8 per cent, while Mrs Main’s increased by 0.5 per cent, compared to a national average rise of 1.6 per cent.

However, the investigation revealed that Mrs Main, who was among politicians singled out for criticism during the 2009 expenses scandal and was ordered to repay thousands of pounds, has bucked the trend of fellow politicians who have claimed tens of thousands of pounds more for travel and accommodation.

Mrs Main has claimed no expenses for accommodation since 2011/12, and just £271 in travel over the same period.

An analysis of figures publicised recently by IPSA, the expenses watchdog, for 2014/15 show she claimed just £19.20 for travel and £127,989 in total for the year, the bulk of which was for her staff payroll.

Mr Lilley, who sits on the Environmental Audit Committee, claimed a total £146,687.50, including nearly £3,000 for accommodation.

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By contrast, Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin claimed accommodation expenses of £6,618.36, and £9,221 for travel, contributing to a total £149,660.20 he claimed for the past year.

Matthew Hancock, West Suffolk MP and Minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general, asked for £18,230.90 in accommodation and £4,226.48 in travel expenses, and claimed £167,610.26 overall.

In neighbouring Welwyn Hatfield, MP Grant Shapps, Minister of State at the Department for International Development, claimed a total £165,627.42, including £6,008.50 in travel costs.

Richard Harrington, MP for Watford, claimed a total £158,140.41, including £22,687.22 in office costs, while Chesham and Amersham MP, Cheryl Gillan, asked to recoup £5,630.99 and £3,851.82 in accommodation and travel costs respectively, which contributed to a total £171,038.96.

An overall figure of £155,482.83 was claimed by Stephen Barclay, North East Cambridgeshire MP, including accommodation costs of £10,120.30 and £4,660.05 in travel.

Mrs Main told the Herts Advertiser that the reason her costs were lower than fellow politicians was that she is not entitled to claim accommodation under the new rules, and in regards to other expenses, she often chooses “not to” make a claim.

She added: “I pay my interns, because I believe that young people should be paid if they are working. Although we are constricted by pay bands, I don’t believe in asking young people to work for nothing.

“My office runs quickly and efficiently.”

All 650 MPs are eligible to claim business costs and expenses, to aid their parliamentary work.

In 2008 the High Court ruled that MPs should disclose their expenses to the public.

IPSA was created in 2009, in the interest of transparency, and to ensure that any further abuses were highlighted and dealt with.