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REVEALED: Labour pair's claims for first class travel.

Byline: LIAM THORP and DAVID OTTEWELL ECHO Reporters

METRO Mayor Steve Rotheram made 61 claims for first class train travel in his final year as an MP - compared to just 13 claims for a standard fare.

But his Labour colleague, George Howarth, showed an even greater preference for top rate travel - only ever claiming for first class tickets in the same period.

New data has shown that the former Walton MP claimed back for first class travel far more than he did for standard tickets in 2016/17.

A spokesman for the Metro Mayor has said Mr Rotheram would routinely book first class travel way in advance of journeys, as this would actually represent a saving for the taxpayer. But the figures could still prove tricky for the newly-elected regional leader.

His party leader and close ally Jeremy Corbyn hit headlines earlier this year after he refused to accept a free upgrade to first class on a packed Virgin train journey.

While Metro Mayor Rotheram may have shown a preference for first class travel, he was not the Merseyside politician with the most claims.

Knowsley MP George Howarth was one of just 22 MPs who only ever claimed for first class train travel last year.

He lodged a total of 70 claims for first-class rail travel, costing the taxpayer a total of PS6,791.25. In addition, he lodged 35 claims for first class rail tickets for his staff, costing a further PS2,817.25.

He did, however, make two claims for standard-class staff travel. They were worth PS272.00.

The figures, gathered by the Trinity Mirror Data Unit, counts both single and return trips as a single ticket.

Some 211 MPs claimed for at least one first class rail ticket in 2016/17. A further 293 MPs claimed for at least one rail journey.

Official guidance from Parliamentary watchdog Ipsa says politicians should "consider value for money" when booking tickets.

MPs are still allowed to travel first class if the cost of the ticket is cheaper than the standard-class "walk-on" fare.

Since train tickets are usually much cheaper if booked in advance, MPs who want to travel first class can generally do so if they plan ahead.

A spokesman for Metro Mayor Rotheram said: "Booking first class travel in advance actually represents a saving for the taxpayer."

CAPTION(S):

Steve Rotheram, top, and George Howarth

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2017
Words:396
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