IN a few weeks time we will discover exactly how much our MPs have spent on curtains, cleaners and coffee tables.

But as our local MPs have, so far, escaped being named and shamed in the Daily Telegraph, we are currently only privy to the details they are happy to give us.

And that varies completely from MP to MP.

While New Forest MP Desmond Swayne, who claims less than any other local MP, provides a full breakdown of his expenses on his website, others claim they are currently unable to provide us with the information.

Schools Minister Jim Knight tops the local MPs’ expenses league table after claiming £155,987 in 2007/2008, compared with £137,970 in 2006/2007.

The Dorset South MP, ranked 171 out of 645 in the MPs’ expenses list, claimed £94,135 last year for staffing costs, a £9,746 communications allowance and £4,993 personal travelling expenses.

His second home costs were the maximum £23,083 but he is not able to provide any breakdown of this figure. He said it is mainly made up of mortgage interest (£600 a month), council tax, utility bills and a “minimal amount” on furnishings, including a television and a couple of electrical items.

When he first became an MP, he was renting a flat in Vauxhall for £1,000 a month. A couple of years ago, he bought a one-bedroom flat in the same block because it was cheaper than renting. He did claim back the stamp duty and solicitors’ fees but said he claimed hardly anything for equipping it.

He said: “I’m confident that what I’ve claimed has been necessary in terms of being sent to Westminster to do a job for my constituents and it’s certainly been better value than staying in a hotel.”

Robert Syms, Conservative MP for Poole, is second on the local MP league table after claiming £138,917 in 2007/2008, compared with £129,034 in 2006/2007.

His claims for last year included a £81,739 staffing allowance, £922 for computer equipment and a £8,759 communications allowance. He also claimed the maximum £23,083 for his second home, a breakdown of this will be published by the Conservative Party shortly.

Christchurch MP Chris Chope came third in the expenses’ tally after claiming £136,992 during 2007/2008, compared with £138,436 in 2006/2007.

His staffing allowance totalled £81,998 while his personal travelling costs were £5,873. Computer costs came to £901. He claimed £22,792 for his second home.

Mr Chope said a breakdown of all of his expenses would be published in a week or two by the Conservative Party.

He said: “Unlike other MPs I do not have the facility to put these on my own website but anyone interested can make an appointment to come and talk to me about them if they wish.

“I am an extremely active member and am up and down to London a lot, which is perhaps why mine are higher than others.”

“People will have to make up their own minds as to whether they believe they are fair or not.”

North Dorset MP Bob Walter claimed £133,170 last year, compared with £132,729 the previous year. His travelling costs totalled £9,397 and he also claimed a £79,830 staffing allowance.

Stationery and postage costs came to £2,940 with a £1,463 claim submitted for £1,463 computer equipment. He claimed £22,496 for his second home, details of which will be released by the Conservative Party shortly.

Mid Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke submitted expenses’ claims totalling £132,921 during 2007/2008, compared with £125,392 the previous year.

“Additional costs” totalled £16,285, a staffing allowance was claimed for £82,177 and £1,216 for computer equipment.

She claimed £16,285 for her second home and has started publishing her expenses claims on her website

She has also published a couple of pictures of her second home – a one-bedroom flat in Dolphin Square, London and says she only claims for rent, electricity, council tax, subsistence allowance and essential maintenance.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood claimed £130,186 in expenses in 2007/2008 compared with £124,884 in 2006/2007.

His claims included the cost of employing five members of staff, a £1,954 communications allowance and £1,065 for computer equipment.

He claimed the maximum £23,083 on his second home, which is his Bournemouth property, details of which he says he is happy to share with constituents if they come to see him.

He said: “It’s like running a small business with all the associated costs. My take-home pay is £50,000 with £23,083 claimed for my second home.

It is absolutely right that expenses claims should be scrutinised but we are not walking away with all this money or living in luxury.”

Bournemouth West MP Sir John Butterfill claimed £127,214, compared with £129,379. Staffing cost £76,218 with a £9,063 communications allowance and £128 for travel expenses. He claimed £22,877 for his second home.

He is currently recovering from a broken ankle and is unable to produce a detailed breakdown of his expenses because he handed all the information to the Fees Office. He recently refitted his kitchen but said he “did it on a budget from B&Q”.

New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne is at the bottom of the local MP expenses’ league table, after claiming £94,754 expenses last year, compared with £91,737 the previous year.

He told the Daily Echo: “Some MPs have behaved disgracefully but I hope that by being ahead of the game and posting a breakdown of my claims spanning the past four years on my website will enable people to scrutinise them for themselves.”

He is the only local MP to have provided a full breakdown of his expenditure. In 2007/08, for his property in North Kensington, Mr Swayne spent £8,480.04 on his mortgage, £1,670.83 on food, £698.12 on utilities with a further £1,631.44 on council tax.

His service charge, as he lives in a shared block of flats, amounted to £971.23, his telephone bill came to £133.65 and cleaning charges cost £588.

The Conservative MP also submitted a £45 claim for laundry costs, £135 for his TV licence and £182.99 on insurance with maintenance costs totalling £1,445.78.

He spent £724.21 on decorating, £643 on plumbing repairs and £42 on replacing broken windows.

What do you think? Fill in the form below. Due to technical problems we didn't receive people's messages posted earlier today. Apologies for this, please post again.
Name: Email: Message: