Corby MP’s 22p expenses claim

Tom Pursglove claimed 22p for a volunteer's banana. NNL-181120-161725005
Tom Pursglove claimed 22p for a volunteer's banana. NNL-181120-161725005

Corby MP Tom Pursglove submitted one of the country’s lowest expenses claims - for a single piece of fruit.

The Conservative claimed back 22p from the taxpayer after a volunteer of his bought a banana from the Westminster Bridge Tesco Express on March 28.

It was one of 1,188 claims valued at under £1 by all MPs between June 2017 and May 2018, according to analytics site www.mpsexpenses.info.

Liberal Democrat Chris Stanbra, who stood against Mr Pursglove at the 2017 general election, said he didn’t understand the thought process behind the claim.

He said: “It sort of exasperates me when you see small claims for items like this.

“Just the cost of the process of claiming it must cost more than that.

“To claim 22p, I just cannot really understand what the thought process was.

“With hindsight it’s the sort of claim that ought not to have been processed.”

He added that he believes there should be a threshold on expenses claims by MPs.

Click here to find out how much the MPs for Wellingborough, Kettering and Corby claimed in expenses last year.

Vice-chairman of the Conservative Party for youth Mr Pursglove’s total cost to the taxpayer last year was £170,217.85.

In a statement about the 22p banana claim, he said: “I believe it is very important to provide work experience opportunities for local young people from the constituency in my Westminster office, as it provides them with a unique opportunity to experience politics, listen to debates and see for themselves how our democracy works.

“There are rules in place, set down by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), about how such placements must be handled.

“This includes a contract and a modest budget available to help these school pupils and students with their travel to London and a small amount of subsistence while they are here - essentially to help ensure they are not out of pocket.

“This also allows every young person the same opportunity to come for work experience, irrespective of their family background or financial circumstances.

“Personally, I would not wish to see anyone excluded from having such an opportunity on the grounds of affordability.

“All placements in my office are carried out entirely in line with these IPSA rules.”

Of the 153,222 claims made by MPs between June 2017 and May 2018, there were several lower than Mr Pursglove’s banana cost.

According to www.mpsexpenses.info, Labour MP for Don Valley Caroline Flint claimed back two 1p EE bills.

Tory MPs Robert Goodwill (Scarborough) and Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) also claimed back 1p for a Vodafone bill and data list purchase respectively.

Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle claimed 2p for a Paypal purchase and, closer to home, Market Harborough’s MP features on the lowest claims list.

Conservative Neil O’Brien submitted mileage claims for 5p, 9p, 13p, 14p and 18p.