Hull North MP opens book on expenses to constituents

Hull North MP Diana Johnson today published her allowances and expenses for the financial year 2005/06, ahead of their official publication by Parliament on 26 October 2006.

Diana Johnson MP said: "My expenses and allowances for the financial year of 2005/06 were as follows.

"I claimed £72,620 for staffing. This was below the allocated maximum allowance of £84,081. As I was elected for the first time in May 2005, it took some time to employ staff and establish my two offices. I now employ one full-time member of staff in my constituency office and two part-time caseworkers.

"At my Westminster office in 2005/6, I employed one full-time Parliamentary Researcher and one part-time Secretarial Assistant. The Staffing Allowance covers their salaries, national insurance contributions and other incidentals. Part of the balance on staffing was transferred to the Incidental Expenses budget.

"On Incidental Expenses Provision, I claimed over the maximum amount of £20,000, which I also needed to top up from my staffing budget making a total of £21,302. This represents the cost of establishing and running offices in both Westminster and Hull. As far as the constituency office is concerned, these costs include, for example, rent and telephone bills and all the other costs of running a busy office. Whilst the House of Commons provides office accommodation at Westminster, all the usual office consumables have to be purchased from this allowance.

"As an active constituency MP, I respond to letters and petitions that I receive and work hard to keep Hull North people informed and up to date. In 2005/06, the cost of my stationery was £2,412 and postage £11,195. This represents around 37,500 letters sent from my office. This sounds a lot, but it averages out at less than one letter per resident over the course of the year! These costs reflect my commitment to providing a proper response to the matters raised with me, and keeping constituents fully up to date.

"My Additional Cost Allowance claim is for the additional costs of accommodation involved in working in Westminster - and having to live in London - during the weekdays when Parliament is sitting ; and living in Hull North the rest of the time. I claimed £21,593. This is just under the full allowance of £21,634.

"My total travelling expenses for 2005/06 came to £8,277. This was for rail and road journeys travelling between Westminster, the constituency and around Hull.

"Finally, I received the standard IT allowance of £930, representing the loan cost of the standard computer equipment provided to every MP.

"I believe in transparency and accountability. This is why I have set out in full my allowances for 2005/06, with a brief explanation behind each one."