Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner.
ISLAND MP Andrew Turner’s expenses top the Solent region’s list of public money claimed last year.
Figures show Mr Turner claimed a total of £50,652.53 in expenses for the year 2011-12. Staff wages and constituency office costs pushed that figure up to £166,794.
The expenses are detailed by the independent parliamentary watchdog, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), and show Mr Turner claimed £46,000 more than the IPSA figure for him published for 2010-11. IPSA was established after the MP expenses scandal of 2009.
Mr Turner’s office said there were additional costs in moving to the Riverside Centre, salary rates for staff (Mr Turner employs the equivalent of six-and-a-half people) — not including Mr Turner’s partner, Carole Dennett — had been increased to the IPSA scale but the majority of the difference was because the 2010-11 figure was not for a full financial year, while the 2011-12 total was.
Mr Turner’s expenses total included £21,793 for London accommodation and £5,494 for travel. The next highest claimer in nearby constituencies was fellow Tory Steve Brine (Winchester). His expenses totalled £142,083.
Third in the South’s "league table" was Labour Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead. His claim for the year totalled £138,894.
Mr Turner said: "Staff salaries make up the majority of the annual expenditure and, as the Isle of Wight is by far the largest constituency in the country, my staffing costs are higher than average.
"With my staff, I always try to provide a first-class service to Islanders while being mindful of spending taxpayers’ money. All parliamentary expenses are now dealt with and audited by IPSA, which also determines what salary levels are appropriate for MPs’ staff."
The headline and first paragraph of the story have been altered as Mr Turner was not the highest-claiming MP in the South, as our original story stated.