Lothian MPs claiming expenses for heating bills

At at time when many struggle to pay their bills, MPs have defended their expense claims. Picture: Getty
At at time when many struggle to pay their bills, MPs have defended their expense claims. Picture: Getty
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members of Parliament from the Lothians have defended their expense claims for energy bills for their second homes amid growing criticism of the amount some politicians have charged to the public purse.

Some 340 MPs claimed a total of £200,000 for their gas and electricity in their second homes between April 2012 and March this year, according to documents from the ­Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

Alistair Darling.  Picture Ian Rutherford

Alistair Darling. Picture Ian Rutherford

Nadhim Zahawi, Tory MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, topped the table with a claim of £5822 to heat his £1 million constituency home in a 31-acre estate.

Age Scotland said the ­revelations underlined the gulf between some politicians and people who struggle to make ends meet.

A spokesman said: “Across Scotland there are older people on low incomes worrying about whether they will have to choose between eating and heating their homes this winter as fuel bills rocket. This news suggests that many of our MPs might struggle to have any concept of what that’s like.”

Labour’s Alistair Darling was the only Edinburgh and Lothian MP who did not claim.

Ian Murray. Picture: SNS

Ian Murray. Picture: SNS

Ian Murray said some Tory MPs were claiming massive amounts for their country estates, but most Westminster politicians were just covering the running costs of having to have a flat in London.

He said: “These are costs incurred by having to live away from home, at our place of work, four days a week.

“And apart from the Tory estates, it is very difficult to make a comparison as some MPs have utilities included as part of their rent.”

Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat Mike Crockart said the excessive claims of MPs with large estates were “a callous disregard for those struggling to pay bills”.

East Lothian MP Fiona O’Donnell said she had promised before she was elected to be open and transparent about her expenses and they were published on the front page of her website.

She said: “If anyone wants to raise any aspect of my expenses with me they are welcome to contact me.”

The maximum an MP can claim under the second home allowance is £20,100 a year, including rent, energy council tax, service charges, phone and internet.

Midlothian’s David Hamilton said the £65.77 against his name was a mistake. He said: “I don’t claim energy bills.

“I pay quite a sizeable rent so I knew I would not have anything left to claim for anything else.”