1. ITV Report

Greater Manchester MPs first class expenses revealed

David Crausby Photo: MEN Syndication

They spend many hours travelling from their constituencies to Westminster but it seems some MPs are able to enjoy their journeys more than others.

New figures show how MPs are claiming thousands of pounds for first-class rail travel - with some hardly-ever or sometimes never travelling any other way.

Exclusive analysis of expenses for 2016/17 reveal that nearly one in three rail journeys by MPs were in first class.

And one Greater Manchester politician is on a list of 22 MPs who never travelled standard class.

Parliamentary watchdog Ipsa asks MPs to “consider value for money” when booking tickets. However, MPs are still allowed to travel first-class if the cost of the ticket is cheaper than the standard-class ‘walk-on’ fare.

The list of 22 MPs who only ever claimed for first-class includes David Crausby, the veteran Labour MP for Bolton North East.

He lodged a total of 22 claims for first-class rail travel costing the taxpayer a total of £1,329.67. In addition, he lodged 13 claims for first-class rail tickets for his staff, costing a further £876.20, with no claims for any standard fare.

When approached by the Manchester Evening News, Mr Crausby said:

I try to get the cheapest tickets I can.

– David Crausby

Other Greater Manchester MPs who showed a preference for first-class include Andrew Gwynne(Lab, Denton and Reddish), who made 64 claims for first-class tickets worth £4,849.30 - and just three for Standard-class.

Andrew Gwynne MP.

His office said:

Mr Gwynne’s rail tickets are always booked well in advance with him travelling on specifically timed trains to get the best deal.

We purchase the cheapest ticket of any kind on offer online at that time.

If the cheapest is Advance Standard, that’s what he travels by and if the cheapest is Advance First that’s what he travel by. We also seek to avoid the much more expensive option of purchasing Open Standard rail tickets.

Mr Gwynne only uses rail to travel between London and Manchester and has never used the more expensive option of driving to and from the capital for Parliamentary business.

– Andrew Gwynne MP's office

Figures showed that Graham Stringer (Lab, Blackley and Broughton) made 74 first-class claims worth £10,528.61, and just four for standard class.

While, former Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk made 90 first-class claims for himself compared to just six standard-class claims. He also made 30 first-class claims for dependents, with none in standard-class.

The data also showed that Graham Brady

  • Ann Coffey
  • Yvonne Fovargue
  • Lisa Nandy
  • Mike Kane
  • Barbara Keeley
  • Ivan Lewis
  • Angela Rayner
  • Sir Gerald Kaufman also made more than half of their rail claims for first-class.

Others who made at least 20 standard-class claims, but no first class claims include:

  • Kate Green
  • Chris Green
  • Debbie Abrahams
  • Andy Burnham
  • Jeff Smith
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey
  • Liz McInnes

MPs who want to travel first-class can generally do so if they plan ahead.

They could, however, choose to save the taxpayer money by booking ahead and choosing a standard-class seat.

The expenses data for the 2016/17 parliamentary year shows MPs claimed a total of £505,182 on first-class train fares, and £851,635 on standard-class fares.

Some 30% of all tickets booked for MPs were in first-class - up from 20% the previous year. So were 24% of the 775 train tickets booked for MPs’ families, although only 8% of the tickets booked for MPs’ staff were in first-class.