By Tom Moseley, Parliamnetary Correspondent
EXPENSES claims for MPs in the Bristol area topped £1million last year, it has been revealed.
But across the country there was a sharp drop in claims as tighter restrictions and fear of a public backlash after the 2009 expenses scandal took hold.
New figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), set up in the wake of the scandal, show MPs’ claims from after May’s General Election up until March 31.
The largest claim in the Bristol area came from Thornbury and Yate Liberal Democrat MP Steve Webb, who was reimbursed £142,671.33, due mainly to a large staff and office bill.
The pensions minister told the Evening Post that he believed maternity costs for a member of staff had been wrongly included in his office costs, increasing the total by “several thousand” pounds.
He said he had e-mailed Ipsa for urgent clarification.
Mr Webb also stressed all his travel costs were standard class rail journeys, and that he never claims for food, as MPs are entitled to do when in the capital.
Wealthy North East Somerset Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who did not submit claims for accommodation or travel, claimed the region’s lowest total, of £63,083.
Across the country, MPs claimed
a total of £70.6 million in parliamentary expenses over the financial year, down from £98 million in
2009/10 when the system was still operated by the Commons Fees Office.
Prime Minister David Cameron received £106,056, almost all of which went on staffing, although he claimed £272 to cover travel and subsistence.
The records showed that Labour leader Ed Miliband, who claimed £74,357, was given a £4,000 advance on his expenses.
After criticism from MPs that payments were taking too long, Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy agreed last May to give some money upfront to cover office and travel costs.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg claimed a total of £110,878, including £13,411 to cover accommodation and £1,592 on travel and subsistence.
Ipsa, set up in the wake of the expenses scandal, said the release of annual totals for each MP was the “latest step in the new, transparent regime” which it believes will “help restore public confidence in Parliament”.