SOUTH Essex MPs continue to claim thousands of pounds in parliamentary expenses,
figures show.

He now commutes to Parliament every day and has not claimed accommodation costs for seven months.

Mr Amess also employs wife, Julie, as a secretary and caseworker, who is on a salary band of £15,000 to £20,000.

Thurrock’s Conservative MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, claimed £29,755, with £21,808 of that being spent on her constituency office, which she shares with South Basildon and East Thurrock Tory, Stephen Metcalfe. He claimed an almost identical sum for the office, from a total claim of £26,277.

Ms Doyle-Price also employs partner, Thurrock councillor Mark Coxshall, as office manager on the same band as Mrs Amess.

He works part-time for her and Mr Metcalfe.

She said: “I claim no more than I need to do the job. I share a constituency office with Stephen.

Mark is employed by both of us and has been since we were elected. The constituency office manages all casework.

“I am aware of the noise around employing connected parties. I amconfident I get much more work out of Mark than I would from anyone else. Inmany cases, employing spouses is good value for money for the taxpayer as their work doesn’t stop when they leave the office at 5pm.”

Basildon and Billericay Tory MP, John Baron, claimed £25,546, with Rochford and Southend East Tory MP James Duddridge claiming £28,278.

Mr Baron spent £22,000 on his rented constituency office in Bentalls, Basildon. A spokesman for Mr Baron said: “The constituency office rent is £900 a month. The balance is made up of items associated with running the Westminster and constituency offices, such as printer toners, photocopier cartridges, paper and stationery.”

Mr Duddridge claimed £6,970 on accommodation and £15,000 on his office. He said: “I stay in a hotel when the Commons finishes after 10.30pm, in order to be at my desk before 7.30am.”

He added he had found ways to save other costs, including use of e-mail more than post, removing an unused fax line and halving printer toner costs by changing supplier.

Mark Francois, Tory MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, claimed £13,030, mainly on staff. He said being a former Shadow Treasury spokesman had made him more thrifty. He said: “I am very conscious everything we claim has to be paid for out of tax payers’ money. There has been an increase in staffing costs for a number of MPs, but this has chiefly been driven by the number of e-mails we receive from constituents, .”