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MPs' expenses claims revealed

Taxpayers have paid almost £300,000 in allowances to north Kent’s MPs in just one year.

MP for Gravesham, Adam Holloway, and Dr Howard Stoate, Dartford’s MP, submitted a combined bill of £294,665 in the financial year beginning April 2007.

According to the figures, released along with those of all MPs last week, both Dr Stoate’s and Mr Holloway’s share - £147,732 and £146,933 - were about £35,000 more than that claimed by the Prime Minister.

The claims come on top of a £61,820 salary paid to each of the MPs, bringing the total cost to more than £400,000.

There is mounting pressure on MPs over expenses and Gordon Brown has asked a parliamentary watchdog to review the system. It comes amid a backlash against the sums being claimed for MPs who use second homes when at Westminster, which can cover household bills, TV subscriptions and council tax.

Dr Stoate, whose constituency office in Dartford, is 15 miles from Westminster, claimed £17,883 for his city accommodation.

Mr Holloway, whose constituency is 25 miles from The Commons, came close to the £23,803 second homes limit, claiming £22,587.

Dr Stoate was on a Parliamentary visit and unable to comment as the Messenger went to press, but Mr Holloway defended his second home allowance.

He said: “In the current climate I agree it looks awful but when you get elected you can’t suddenly create a second home. It took me 20 years to build up my furniture – I’m not a multi-millionaire.

“Do I spend the next 10 years in a B&B in Victoria or do I do what I sometimes do and sleep in my office when I have to be in for 7.30am the next day?”

Mr Holloway said he had sold his London flat in September and had tried the daily rail commute from Gravesend into the city.

He said: “I did it until about two weeks ago and it was a nightmare. People will say they have to commute every day, and that’s true, but they’re not working until 11pm and not working most weekends.”

Most of the claims went on office or staffing costs. The figure for Mr Holloway, who employs a researcher, a constituency director, a Parliamentary director and a constituency communications director, was £98,764.

But, according to the figures, both MPs exceeded the £10,000 maximum for communications,with Dr Stoate asking £11,252 and Mr Holloway more than double the limit, at £21,063.

The claims made by both have risen markedly. Dr Stoate’s went up 11 per cent from £137,000 the year before, while Mr Holloway’s was up about six per cent from £133,000.

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