Chris Huhne, Eastleigh’s millionaire MP, has been named by the Sunday Telegraph as one of 185 MPs who have claimed public money for first class rail travel, although under guidelines introduced following the 2009 expenses scandal, MPs should normally travel by standard class when claiming it on expenses:
“ The expenses watchdog has repeatedly stressed that MPs should exercise “restraint” when claiming public money.”
This follows controversy over the news that the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne recently traveled in a first class train compartment with just a standard fare ticket.
The Telegraph investigation states that the claims comply with the current expenses rules but describes a ‘loophole’ whereby if a first class ticket is purchased in advance it can be cheaper than a standard ticket bought at short notice although a standard ticket bought in advance can be cheaper still.
Other, high-profile politicians who The Telegraph name as having claimed for first-class journeys include Labour’s Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper, Frank Field and Alistair Darling, Francis Maude from the Conservatives and Norman Baker the Lib Dem Under Secretary of State for Transport.
Huhne’s travel expenses data on the Parliamentary Standards website show that Mr Huhne claimed a total of £3,785 between April 2010 -March 2012 on 73 return tickets – the majority of which were purchased at a self service machine. Huhne purchased and claimed for 42 first class and 17 standard class tickets for himself but also 14 standard tickets for members of staff.
Mr Huhne was also caught up in the 2009 MP expenses furore when it was revealed he had claimed public money for a trouser press and a packet of Hob-Nobs – although he later repaid the money.
More stories on Chris Huhne here