THERE have clearly been some very serious abuses by MPs claiming allowances, particularly those who have 'flipped' between properties, avoided capital gains tax or received money when expenses were not incurred.

Wholesale reform of the system is essential and urgent.

There remains, however, a need for a proper system of expenses.

I was speaking and voting in the House of Commons until 1.28am on Tuesday night, so it was not practical for me to travel back to Taunton afterwards when I had to be in London early the next morning.

And without being able to claim for staff, for example, I would provide a far less comprehensive and professional service for my constituents.

Given the understandable interest in MPs allowances, these are my circumstances.

My home is in Taunton and I have obviously financed every aspect of that property.

I also have a flat in London because of the need to stay away overnight for Parliamentary duties. That property is maintained and furnished to a reasonable standard using the second home allowance which exists for that purpose.

I have personally financed some of the items in the London flat, even though an expenses claim would have been legitimate.

Where a possible capital appreciation has been a factor, I have paid a significant personal contribution to the cost to reflect that aspect of the work. Otherwise, my claims with regards to the London flat have been for items of a comparable or lesser price to those that I have purchased myself for my main Taunton home.

I have been scrupulous at maintaining a clear distinction between my Taunton home and London flat. I have never 'flipped' the designation of my main home, nor shifted household items between them.

I have submitted receipts and substantially underclaimed in many areas including for subsistence payments.

On the wider claims, the vast majority is spent on staff, all of whom work extremely hard for my constituents, none of whom are related to me, none of whom were even known to me before I employed them, and all of whom were selected after a full and open advertising and interview process.

My other claims are to maintain a constituency office, communicate with my constituents and for travel directly associated with my work, mainly between my constituency and Parliament.