ONE Oxfordshire MP claimed 8p for a 350-yard car journey, latest expense claims have shown.

Ed Vaizey was paid 8p in expenses when one of his staff drove the short distance in his Wantage constituency on February 25.

He claimed another 16p for a worker’s 700-yard journey on the same day.

The Culture Minister said: “If my staff are doing work, they are entitled to claim their expenses for it.”

Asked whether it was right that staff drove such short distances, he said: “You have to remember that if you don’t drive, you have got to walk back.”

And he said “you would have to ask the public” whether the perception over MPs’ expenses claims had changed.

He added: “It depends what kind of articles you guys write.”

Meanwhile, Oxford East MP Andrew Smith claimed for riding his bicycle around his constituency, but said the mode of transport was “saving taxpayers’ money”.

Under expenses rules, MPs are entitled to claim 20p-a-mile for riding their bikes as part of their jobs to cover wear and tear, compared to 40p-a-mile by car.

Mr Smith claimed for 18 bike journeys between March and June, including £1 for a four-mile ride from his constituency to Orchard Meadow School in Blackbird Leys and Cowley on April 1, and £1.60 for the eight-mile round trip to and from the Town Hall.

He told the Oxford Mail: “I got a new bike for my 60th birthday and I have been trying to ride it more.

“I hope it is good for both my health and the environment, and it costs a lot less than petrol.

“The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) set up the system, and it is independent and transparent.

“I fill in the forms, and I do not claim for absolutely everything, as I don’t note down all my travel.”

He added: “These days, with other employers as well, it is not uncommon to pay a mileage allowance.

“Because it is by bike, it does not amount to very much, and at the end of the day it is saving the taxpayer money. You have to look at this all in the round.”

Mr Smith said while MPs were allowed to claim every time they had to pay the London congestion charge, he chose not to because he did not think it was right.

Virtually all the expenses claimed by Oxfordshire’s six MPs were for travel, either for themselves or their staff.

Guidelines overseen by the IPSA, which processes the claims, now ensure MPs can only claim for first-class rail travel if it costs less than a standard open ticket.

Witney MP and Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It is important that the expenses system should be transparent, cost-effective and acceptable to the public.”

Banbury MP Tony Baldry said: “The system is now totally independent and totally transparent. Everything is online so everyone can see every claim that is made.

“I cannot recall the last time anyone raised it with me, so I assume anyone who is interested goes online, checks, and are satisfied by what they see.”

Nicola Blackwood, Tory MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said: “While there are some administrative burdens from the IPSA scheme, I believe it is vital to maintain the transparency and independence that the public rightly demand.

“That is why my expenses are published publicly on my website, and why I always encourage constituents to contact me with any questions.”

John Howell, MP for Henley, declined to comment.