MPs in the region have claimed £4.3m on top of their salaries and pension contributions, new figures show.
Darlington MP Alan Milburn was named the most costly politician in the region for expenses, claiming £160,888 on top of his salary, followed by Teesside MPs Dari Taylor, Ashok Kumar and Iain Wright.
Mr Wright, the MP for Hartlepool, is recorded to have spent £19,000 on stamps and stationery.
He said: “My hospital was in danger of closing last year and that is why I had to spend so much money on correspondence. I’m afraid to be a good representative it costs money to employ staff and to be accountable to the electorate.”
Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman spent £90,379 on staffing this year compared with £67,062 last year, while North Tyneside MP Stephen Byers spent £21,000 on “costs for staying away” against £14,208 last year.
Nationally, Labour minister Shahid Malik claimed the most at £185,421. Tory MP Philip Hollobone claimed the least at £44,551.
Nick Harvey, who is on the Members’ Estimate Committee, said taxpayers got “excellent value for money”. The previous year’s national total came to £86.8m, but was inflated by the General Election as “winding up” payments were made to departing MPs. Like-for-like, the increase is about 5%.
Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell said: “I’ve always had reservations about the public domain about Freedom of Information requests about MPs’ business, but I’ve never had any problems about the MPs’ expenses being public. It is good to have such a transparent breakdown. But you have to realise that MPs do incur costs travelling up and down to London and employing staff to do a good job for their representatives.”
Then Chancellor Gordon Brown, Tory leader David Cameron and former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell’s claims were all around the average – at £135,525, £143,385 and £142,810 respectively.
But claims by the outgoing Sedgefield MP and Prime Minister Tony Blair were comparatively low, amounting to £97,084.
Chief executive of pressure group the Tax Payers’ Alliance Matthew Elliott said MPs should be ashamed of themselves. He said: “Families are struggling to pay higher tax bills whilst MPs are spending more and more of our money on themselves each year.
“What’s worse is that they won’t even give us a full itemised breakdown of their expenses as MSPs do in Scotland. No wonder voters have little respect for politicians when they see so many MPs with their snouts in the trough.”
MPs for seats outside central London can claim up to £22,110 a year for being away from their main home for parliamentary duties. Office costs can be reimbursed up to £20,400 and MPs can claim 40p a mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p a mile thereafter.
What our MPs claimed:
Alan Milburn (Darlington): £160,888.
Dari Taylor (Stockton South): £159,178.
Iain Wright (Hartlepool): £156,975.
Ashok Kumar (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland): £155,572.
Sharon Hodgson (Gateshead East and Washington West): £155,222.
Alan Campbell (Tynemouth): £153,621.
John Cummings (Easington): £153,319.
Dave Anderson (Blaydon): £151,353.
Kevan Jones (Durham North): £149,713.
Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland): £148,847.
Nick Brown (Wallsend and Newcastle East): £147,797.
Jim Cousins (Newcastle Central): £147,154.
Bill Etherington (Sunderland North): £146,915.
Vera Baird (Redcar): £146,772.
David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): £146,282.
Doug Henderson (Newcastle North): £146,269.
Denis Murphy (Wansbeck): £146,020.
Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley): £144,156.
Fraser Kemp (Houghton and Washington East): £142,899.
Peter Atkinson (Hexham): £140,949.
Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow): £139,587.
Alan Beith (Berwick): £136,172.
Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham): £134,948.
Stephen Byers (North Tyneside): £133,341.
Eric Martlew (Carlisle): £131,242.
Sir Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough): £130,395.
Frank Cook (Stockton North): £127,215.
David Miliband (South Shields): £126,115.
Hilary Armstrong (North West Durham): £120,740.
Chris Mullin (Sunderland South): £115,356.
Tony Blair (Sedgefield): £97,084.