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MPs attacked over energy expenses
MPs have come under attack for claiming £200,000 of taxpayers' money to cover the cost of their energy bills.
Some 340 MPs, including Government ministers, have used the parliamentary expenses system to recoup the cost of heating their second homes, according to the Sunday Mirror.
Bills costing more than £1,000 were submitted by 41 MPs while 78 made claims for £500 in the 12 months up to March this year, its analysis found.
The claims do not break any parliamentary rules but come at a time of heightened tensions over the spiralling cost of gas and electricity.
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, a founder of market research firm YouGov, claimed the most with a bill totalling £5,822.27 to cover electricity and heating oil for his estate in Warwickshire.
International Development Minister Alan Duncan claimed £2,750 for electricity bills and £1,250 in heating oil for his home in Rutland, Leicestershire while Universities Minister David Willetts, claimed £2,596.
Labour MP John Mann, who did not claim for his energy bills, told the Sunday Mirror : "Perhaps the MPs who have submitted the claims should start wearing thicker jumpers.
"There will be people including pensioners who can't afford to heat their homes who will be furious to find out that MPs who can afford to pay them are putting in such high claims.
"Government ministers are attacking Ed Miliband for proposing to freeze prices but they don't have to worry about the cost because they can put the claims in."
An analysis by energy industry regulator Ofgem earlier this week showed that, while the increases announced so far this autumn by four of the Big Six have averaged 9.1%, wholesale prices have risen by 1.7% - adding just £10 to the average household bill of £600.
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Unison, told the newspaper: "It's disgraceful that well-paid MPs should claim expenses for heating costs at the same time that thousands of families are struggling to pay to turn the oven on to cook dinner for their families.
"These are the same hypocritical MPs who have failed to get a grip on soaring fuel and energy costs, rising food bills and pay freezes.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the issue of whether MPs should claim energy bills back on expenses was a matter for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).
Asked for David Cameron's opinion of what the MPs have done, the spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's view with regard to parliamentary expenses is that that is a matter for Ipsa. There is a system of parliamentary expenses. It is for Ipsa, which is independent."