MP defends her £168,000 expenses
MP Tessa Munt has come out fighting in the annual storm over MPs' expenses.
The MP for Wells has revealed that she claimed £168,727 in office expenses in the past 12 months.
With the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority about to publish the expenses of MPs, she justified the claim, saying all the money goes toward running her office.
She said: "I run an incredibly busy office which has handled over 5,000 new cases during the last year. Mine is a very rural constituency, and I run 11 regular surgeries each month in the major towns and villages, with other locations covered on a rolling schedule all through the year. There is a large demand for help in my patch, and in a rural area where many are dependent upon sparse public transport, I meet the need to travel to see constituents rather than requiring that they come to me.
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"Naturally, I need help with this workload. £168,727 is paid by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority directly for staff salaries and the costs of running my office. This sum is not paid to, or through me. I do not employ members of my family."
She also claimed £9,693 in travel expenses to reclaim the costs associated with being an MP including the costs of essential business travel.
She said: "During the last year, I have been reimbursed the amount of £9,693 for my travel to and from London each week, and around the constituency.
"I do not claim for any meals while at work, although I am entitled to do so.
"My salary as an MP is my sole income. I have no private means and I do not own any property."
Ms Munt said that without help with legitimate business expenses, ordinary people like her would not be able to become a Member of Parliament and the House of Commons would remain "the preserve of the wealthy and influential".
She said: "I strongly believe our Parliament should reflect our population, not just the privileged.
"I love the work I do, and am happy to try to help where I can.
"If you are one of my constituents and have any queries about this, or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me."