AFTER a lengthy battle by information campaigners, the expenses claims of MPs in our region have been made public for the first time.

Figures released by the House of Commons, under the Freedom of Information Act, show how our Parliamentarians claimed tens of thousands of pounds on housing allowances, travel costs, stationery and staff.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Phil Willis tops the table in our region, with claims of £167,561 for 2007/08. Second highest was York’s Hugh Bayley, with £163,319, followed by Selby’s John Grogan with £158,477.

Ryedale MP John Greenway was lowest in our region, with claims totalling £130,967.

Mr Bayley and Mr Grogan both claimed the maximum housing allowance of £23,083. Three others, Mr Greenway, Mr Willis and Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill claimed just below the maximum.

Mr Grogan said: “I rent a furnished flat which together with a council tax bill accounts for the vast bulk of the money I claim for living away from home.

“As regards travel, I am a frequent traveller up and down the East Coast Main Line and frequently criss-cross a rural constituency. I employ three staff in my constituency office and one in Westminster.”

Of Mr Willis’s claims, more than £20,000 was on travel. £87,293 went on staffing costs, with a further £22,322 on office running costs.

Mr Willis, who has been a vocal campaigner for more open-ness in MPs’ expenses, said: “If you add up my travel claims, they come to more than £20,000.

“The trouble is, I come to my constituency every single week and also mid-week as well, but it’s also because I now chair the Innovation, Universities, Science And Skills Committee, so I do a lot of travelling to visit universities and laboratories.

“My travel has really rocketed over the past year, but you cannot claim travel unless you have a warrant and short of doing less work I do not know what I can do.”

Mr Bayley said he had more constituents than other MPs in our region, so had a larger workload. He said his expenses were equivalent to £1.97 for each person in the City of York constituency.

He said the vast bulk of his housing allowance was for mortgage interest, and said he stood by his previous calls for the so-called John Lewis list, showing what MPs had bought for their second homes in London, to be made public.

Mr Bayley claimed £4,117 for stationery and postage costs, and said: “I have one of the largest postbags, partly because I have more constituents.”

He said he wrote thousands of letters a year, and needed staff to help research issues raised by constituents.

MPs' expenses - Who claimed what?

Phil Willis
Lib Dem, Harrogate and Knaresborough
Total: £167,561 including:
• £22,905 housing
• £87,024 staffing
• £20,553 travel

Hugh Bayley
Labour, York
Total: £163,319 including:
• £23,083 housing
• £91,614 staffing
• £13,472 travel

John Grogan
Labour, Selby
Total: £158,477 including:
• £23,083 housing
• £91,086 staffing
• £15,329 travel

Robert Goodwill
Conservative, Scarborough &Whitby
Total: £145,387 including:
• £22,897 housing
• £88,496staffing
• £10,397 travel

Greg Knight
Conservative, East Yorkshire
Total: £138,158 including:
• £18,305 housing
• £89,029 staffing
• £11,158 travel

Anne McIntosh
Conservative, Vale of York
Total: £133,116 including:
• £20,382 housing
• £81,071 staffing
• £13,295 travel

John Greenway
Conservative, Ryedale
Total: £130,967 including:
• £23,082 housing
• £80,870 staffing
• £9,200 travel