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Lammy tops expense claims

DEFENCE: Lammy said he needs qualified staff to deal with the volume of his casework in Tottenham

ONE of Britain’s most high-profile black MPs has defended topping the list of parliamentary expenses over the past year.

According to data from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Tottenham MP David Lammy claimed £173,922.06 in 2010-11 more than any of his 649 colleagues.

The bulk of the expenditure – £154,681.02 – covered staffing costs, but is still above the cap of £109,000.

But the independent watchdog approved his claim due to the volume of casework his office receives and accounted for the cost of paying one member of staff while on maternity leave.

The Labour MP said: “These are the costs of running my office. The most deprived constituency in London, with the highest unemployment and a significant caseload regarding immigration, housing, benefits claims and other serious issues needs qualified staff and two busy offices.

“In difficult times, the most vulnerable people need their MP to be fighting on their behalf. I could not do that without the staff and offices which are paid for through this funding.”

Lammy said he received thousands of calls, emails and letters each week.

Overall, MPs claimed £70.6m - down from £98m under the old scheme in 2009-10.

How did the other black MPs fare?

(Lab) Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham £123,488.24

(Lab) Mark Hendrick, MP for Preston £113,664.51

(Lab) Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne £107,301.83

(Con) Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and the Weald £106,215.19

(Lab) Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington £104,443.63

(Con) Adam Afriye, MP for Windsor £68, 686.91

(Con) Kwesi Kwarteng, MP for Spelthorne £64,964.18

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