Published: September 14, 2012
MP defends £164k expenses which were 'higher than Prime Minister's'

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has this week defended her expense claims after media reports that she spent more than the Prime Minister over the past year.

Tessa Munt filed claims worth £164,862.07 in the 2011-12 financial year, which were £45,000 more than David Cameron according to information published this week by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

However, Tessa told "To compare me - or the 547 other MPs who cost more than the Prime Minister - with David Cameron is unrealistic. He lives in Number 10 Downing Street and is not obliged to ask taxpayers for funds to cover the costs of his accommodation there. He claimed expenses of £299 for travel and subsistence this year, but most of his journeys will have been made in a ministerial car, not his own vehicle."

Most of Tessa's expenses were spent on running her constituency office and more than £30,000 went on her parliamentary costs of accommodation and travel.

She added: "The UK Parliament has an expenses system which allows MPs like me to reclaim the costs of travel and subsistence needed to do my job, in common with every other private and public sector business in this country."

"I received £9,678 in expenses during the year from April 2011 to March 2012 to reimburse my travel costs. Wells covers a very rural area of 174 different communities and I have held well over 300 surgeries in local towns and villages since 2010. Naturally, my travel costs will be higher than those for an MP in a town or urban area."

"I run a very busy office, with an average of 1,000 pieces of correspondence each week. I am very grateful that the taxpayer covers the costs of renting my local office, the electricity, gas and telephone bills, the salaries for my team of three full-time and two part-time staff, and the small flat I rented last year in London. The £155,184 this costs is not paid to me, but is attributable to my role as the Wells MP. This represents less than £1.00 a year from each person in my patch, and I work hard to ensure each taxpayer gets value for money."

Tessa added: "Although I am entitled to claim some of my meals when I am working, I choose not to do so. I do not own any property. I am not independently wealthy and I have no other income, so I need to use the financial help available to MPs to do my job. I believe it is important that this help is available so ordinary people like me can consider being an MP - if this was not the case, the House of Commons would return to being the preserve of just the rich, the well-connected and the powerful, who might not be in touch with what worries the less privileged."

"I publish details of all gifts on my website [here], not just those worth more than £645 as the rules require. Anyone without access to a computer is welcome to call my office on 01934 710748 and a paper copy of that list will be sent to them by post. I believe all MPs should declare everything they receive from every source, as the current lack of transparency could risk undeclared influence, and a potential for corruption."

"I made five pledges to the electorate in 2010. These were not to have any other paid employment, not to profit from being your MP, only to claim work-related expenses, not to employ family members and continue to live here in Mid Somerset – my family home. I haven't, I don't, I do, I won't, I do!"

"I continue to love the work I do, and am happy to try to help as many people as possible. If anyone has any queries about this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me."


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