THE full details of the expenses claims made by MPs from 2004-2008 are due to be published by the House of Commons authorities this month.

The overwhelmingly greatest expense – bigger than all the others put together – is the staff costs for my Taunton and London offices.

There are also allowances for hiring and equipping an office, communications with constituents and travel. Most of the media attention has focused on the 'Additional Costs Allowance' which exists for MPs with constituencies outside central London.

Like virtually all MPs outside London, I claim an allowance to maintain and reasonably furnish a second property, which is necessary because I am typically in Parliament from Monday to Thursday, including early-morning meetings and late-night debates.

It is worth stressing that my home is in Taunton and it has been entirely financed by me. I have not 'flipped' my designated home, avoided capital gains tax or claimed for a non-existent mortgage. I have abided by the spirit as well as the letter of the rules.

I have never pretended to spend my time in London sleeping on bare floorboards in an empty room with rain coming in through the ceiling.

When in London, I live in a 1970s block of twelve flats, which is reasonable but certainly not lavish, and is located between Peckham and Brixton.

I did claim towards the essential replacement of the flat roof, which was becoming degraded. The decision was also imposed on me in 2006 to change all of the windows in the block, which were thirty years old and were in a severely dilapidated condition.

The new windows were an essential maintenance project, but the new windows were also superior to those that were being replaced. Recognising the capital improvement element of the project as well as the essential maintenance dimension, I paid 50% of the cost of the new windows myself and claimed the other 50%, even though my understanding was that it would have been regarded as legitimate to claim the entire cost.

Newly-elected MPs inevitably incur one-off furnishing costs. I have claimed for some items such as a bed, sofa, carpet, blinds and a few basic decorative items, and have financed other furniture myself including a table, chairs and chests of drawers. The items I claimed for were of a comparable or cheaper price to those that I purchased myself for my Taunton home.

Some MPs have behaved fraudulently or abused the allowance system, and they must face the consequences, but that does not alter the fact that there are additional costs incurred from having to live in two places. I am most effective as an MP by having my home in Taunton Deane but also being in Westminster to represent my constituency. Being an MP should not be restricted to people who have private extra income, second jobs or trade union sponsorship.

I am a full-time MP who is committed to serving the interests of the residents of Taunton Deane, both in my constituency and in Parliament, to the best of my ability.