An MP who claimed nearly £4,000 in expenses for energy bills for his second home has defended his actions.
Rutland MP Alan Duncan’s claim of £2,747.45 for electricity and £1,250.61 for heating oil for his constituency home in Thorpe by Water, Rutland was among the highest payments to MPs for energy bills, according to figures published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
Under parliamentary rules, MPs are entitled to claim £20,100 for their second homes to cover fuel bills, rent, council tax and phone and internet charges.
Mr Duncan, who is Minister of State for International Development, has stated that while his energy bill expense claims were high, his overall expenditure within his accommodation budget was low.
Mr Duncan said: “The independent body that oversees expenses allocates MPs an accommodation budget for some of the costs of maintaining a home in their constituency.
“In my case, fuel bills are by far the largest element of this. However, this should be seen in the context of me being within the lowest bracket of all the various accommodation budgets.
“Also, out of the 478 MPs who claimed the costs of a constituency property my own claims put me well towards the bottom, at 364th, and with a total claim of almost £20,000 less than the highest claimants.
“I am also in the bottom half of all overall claims, being 369th out of 640.”
Energy bills have come into the spotlight in recent weeks with the six major providers confirming price rises of about 10 per cent.
In his column in the Rutland Times, Mr Duncan said that he would be against a freeze in energy bill costs because Government would have to subsidise the costs if world prices were to increase.
He wrote: “Nobody likes paying high electricity and gas bills and for many people in the UK their utility bill is their biggest monthly cost.”
His views were in response to Labour leader Ed Miliband’s promise to freeze energy bills if he were to become Prime Minister.
Stamford and Bourne MP Nick Boles claimed £10,611 in accommodation costs for his constituency home, which included £673.05 in energy bills.
Deepings MP John Hayes claimed £23,757 in costs for his second home, including £818.07 in energy bill claims.
Corby and East Northants MP Andy Sawford and North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara had no accommodation expense claims.