Horsham MP defends first class gravy train claim

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude gives evidence to the Commons Public Administration Committee on the Cabinet manual and Civil Service reform in the House of Commons, London.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude gives evidence to the Commons Public Administration Committee on the Cabinet manual and Civil Service reform in the House of Commons, London.

Francis Maude has defended himself after it was revealed that he has claimed first class train tickets on his taxpayer-funded expenses account.

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority ( IPSA) rules, brought in following the 2009 expenses scandal, mean MPs are normally supposed to travel by standard class.

Last weekend, the Sunday Telegraph announced that 185 MPs (113 Labour, 48 Conservative, 19 Lib Dem, three SNP and two Plaid Cymru) have been ‘exploiting a loophole’ in the rules.

MPs are allowed to claim for a first class ticket, but only if they would have had to pay more for a standard class ticket bought at short notice.

This means that an MP will sometimes be able to buy their first class ticket in advance, making it cheaper than a short notice standard class ticket, then claim for it.

Although it is within the rules, this could cost up to five times more than a standard ticket bought just as far in advance.

A spokesman for Francis Maude told the County Times: “As a Government minister Francis has a diary which often changes but all his claims for travel to Horsham have been fully in accordance with IPSA’s rules.”

The spokesman added that Mr Maude had only claimed for first class travel when it was cheaper than an open standard return.