FIVE Somerset MPs cost the public almost £800,000, official figures show.
Yeovil MP David Laws, whose expenses have been steadily climbing for the last three years, was given £150,087.61 from 2012-13 for personal and running costs.
His expenses are in line with the average of all 650 MPs whose collective bill rose by more than 7% last year to a record-breaking £98.1million.
The sums for travel, accommodation and staffing were paid by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).
In Somerset, a total of £795,615.70 was claimed by David Laws (Yeovil), Ian Liddell-Granger (West Somerset and Bridgwater), Tessa Munt, (Wells) Jeremy Browne (Taunton Deane), and David Heath (Somerton and Frome).
The lion’s share of all five MPs’ expense claims are for paying employees, such as researchers, case workers and office secretaries.
Conservative MP Ian LiddellGranger, who claimed the most of all five MPs with expenses of £178,875.34, was also the only Somerset MP to claim a miscellaneous cost.
A sum of £944.40 was paid to move him into a new flat last year.
Mr Liddell-Granger was also the only Somerset MP to employ a spouse – his wife Jill – on a salary of between £30,000 and £34,999 a year as a parliamentary assistant.
He refused to comment on his expenses. Spending is now higher than in the run-up to the scandal that rocked Westminster in 2009.
The publication of the figures comes after the watchdog proposed lifting MPs’ pay from £66,000 now to £74,000 after the 2015 General Election – despite protests from Prime Minister David Cameron that the cost of politics must not be allowed to rise.
A spokesperson from IPSA said: “IPSA was introduced to clean out the old, opaque system of allowances, and replace it with a new and transparent expenses scheme.
"We publish the full details of every claim made by every MP – over 230,000 claims this year – so that the public has full view of what expenses and business costs MPs claim and what they are spent on.
“In 2012-13, IPSA paid MPs’ expense claims worth £98.1m.”