Our MP has second highest expenses claim in UK

Morecambe’s MP David Morris is the second highest parliamentary expenses claimant in Britain, according to new figures.

Conservative MP Mr Morris claimed nearly £76,000 in one year with the highest being Shetland and Orkney MP Alistair Carmichael who claimed £75,915.05.

Labour county councillor Janice Hanson from Morecambe has described the amount of the claim as “unbelievable” and “ridiculous”.

Mr Morris said: “I am trying to do the best job I possibly can by my constituents.

“My expenses are independently adjudicated by IPSA (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) and are only paid for legitimate items which relate to undertaking my job as the Member of Parliament for Morecambe and Lunesdale.

“For all I have achieved I am still cheaper than my predecessor was in her final year in parliament.”

In total Mr Morris claimed £75,624.43.

Lancaster’s MP, Eric Ollerenshaw, claimed £16,155.84. Mr Morris’ largest expenses – £23,702 and £23,378 – went on accommodation and office costs, respectively.

A total of £22,982 was spent on travel.

Politicians have reacted angrily to news that Morecambe’s MP has the second highest expenses claim in the UK.

Some representatives of local political groups have been surprised to hear that Mr Morris claimed nearly £76,000 in one year - £10,000 more than his annual salary.

County Councillor Janice Hanson from Morecambe said:”That’s just unbelievable and ridiculous.

“People in the north are struggling a lot more with jobs and the cost of living and that amount seems outrageous compared to what he does in the constituency.

“I really and truly think people will question that. He is spending around £1,500 a week on expenses.

“I don’t think that is justifiable and I don’t think his constituents will think so either.”

Green Party Councillor Chris Coates representing Scotforth West said: “Given the expenses scandal before he was elected I’m slightly shocked and astonished.

“One would question whether we really are in the same boat.

“I’m astonished that someone is claiming more expenses than wages.

“Four years ago I campaigned for the county council seat he won. People were horrified at what had gone on with the expenses scandal at the time.”

Independent Councillor Keith Budden representing Bolton-le-Sands said: “The whole business of expenses and allowances needs to be investigated and some fair and proper rates approved.

“The whole thing is very loose and easy to manipulate.

“People are entitled to fair salaries and allowances. The scheme needs to be tightened up to be fair and above board for everybody.

“It just seems outrageous. Our MPs are able to claim for things that people find outrageous.

“The whole system needs to be completely overhauled.”

Morecambe Bay Independent Councillor David Kerr representing Westgate said: “It’s up to the relevant authorities to deal with issues of this nature.”

Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster, was unavailable for comment.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris said in response: “I am absolutely appalled by the insinuation that my expenses are high for any other reason than I am trying to do the best job I possibly can by my constituents.

“I am frankly insulted by the line of questioning your journalist has decided to take, especially the comment, have any of my expenses been on entertaining celebrities.

“My expenses are independently adjudicated by IPSA and are only paid for legitimate items which relate to undertaking my job as the Member of Parliament for Morecambe and Lunesdale.

“To compare myself to my neighbouring colleague Eric Ollerenshaw MP, is an unfair comparison.

“Eric shares his office in the constituency with Ben Wallace MP, and uses his accommodation claim for his constituency flat, as he already has a home in London.

“I have to rent my London accommodation, as you can imagine rent in London is much higher than renting a property in Lancaster. My home in Caton is paid for by myself.

“Your journalist has noted that my travel expenses appear high; this is not unusual for a Member of Parliament who endeavours to be back in the constituency every week, as I do, to listen to his constituents and ensure their views are properly represented in Parliament.

“I always travel on the cheapest return ticket possible.

“Your Journalist is implying that if I were to live in London and not come back to the area then I would be doing a more effective job as your Member of Parliament which is strictly not the case.

“Engagement with my community has lead to me uncovering stories of national importance , such as currently the cover up at the CQC by the previous Government, which ran on Sky News, Local Television News and various national newspapers over a period of the last month and is still ongoing, to name only one example.

“It is impossible for a Member of Parliament to carry out their role if they do not spend all the time they can in the constituency engaging with the community.

“Not only that but I have secured over £300 million pounds worth of funding to the constituency. “This is more inward investment into this area than it has ever had under any of my predecessors.

“All my expenses are within the budgets given to MP’s by IPSA and these budgets were set as the amount felt to be required to effectively carry out parliamentary duties and a parliamentary office in a safe and secure environment.

“For all I have achieved I am still cheaper than my predecessor was in her final year in parliament, who claimed for food, which I do not.”