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Hey! Big spenders

PUBLISHED: 11:37 14 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:43 25 August 2010

BIG BUDGET: Derek Conway.

BIG BUDGET: Derek Conway.

AN MP who has claimed more than half a million pounds in expenses over four years has insisted that MPs have been underpaid for years and years .

AN MP who has claimed more than half a million pounds in expenses over four years has insisted that MPs have been underpaid for "years and years".

Old Bexley and Sidcup MP Derek Conway claims the £64,766 per annum salary is not enough and says members should be handed a civil service pay scale.

Over the last four financial years Mr Conway claimed £529,625 in expenses - the most out of all of Greenwich and Bexley's five parliamentarians.

This includes the controversial second home allowance, staff, postage and stationery.

When asked to explain where the money went, he retorted: "It is what it is, end of story."

He said that MPs should be put on a civil service pay scale as recommended by Margaret Thatcher's Senior Salary Review Body.

He added: "MPs have been underpaid for years and years.

"The public probably think MPs aren't worth 10 pence a week."

The father-of-three was at the centre of a scandal last year when a committee found him guilty of using £50,000 of public money to pay his son Freddie, for work there was no evidence of.

He was later ordered to return £3,757 paid to his elder son Henry.

But Mr Conway said he didn't expect any further revelations when the receipts of all MPs expenses are published online in July.

Bexley and Greenwich MPs have cost the taxpayer an average of £585,829 a year in expenses.

Eltham MP Clive Efford said he was "too boring" to have any revelations come out about him.

The Labour MP, who claimed £469,759 over the last four financial years but does not have a second home, said: "There is nothing wrong with my salary and you will not hear me complaining about it.

"Before I was against publishing all the receipts as I thought people would pick up on petty things, like a packet of biscuits, but now I say publish and be damned.

"I can understand MPs who have to claim to live away from home. I don't mind that at all.

"But which set of rules says that to be an MP it is essential that we have a swimming pool maintained?"

He said when he first became an MP in 1997 and asked the fees office to pay for the parliament channel to be shown on his office television they said it was not in the rules.

He said: "I am flabbergasted at what the House authorities have been approving.

"It is a corrupting system."

Susie Squire from The Tax Payers Alliance told the Times: "There is no evidence that a rise in MPs wages will sort out the expenses scandal.

"Until we sort out expenses we will not be able to have a clear and level-headed debate on wages."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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