House of benefits

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Our increasingly poverty-stricken MPs are having an apparently tough time keeping up with debt repayments.

It has emerged that 52 MPs owe £10,018 in overpaid salaries and allowances, just under half of which has been waited on for over six months.

Meanwhile, freedom of information requests last month revealed that MPs owe £138,046 in unpaid catering and entertainment bills in the House of Commons.

The taxpayer already subsidises food and drink in the Commons to the tune of £6.1 million a year, so as not to dent the meagre £64,000 member's basic salary. More than half of all MPs, 329 of them, have unpaid bills - averaging £419 each.

Highlights of their subsidised feed include pea soup for 55p, pea, pepper and parmesan risotto for £1.90 and a pint of Foster's for £2.10.

It remains unclear whether these costs are further reduced if eaten from a trough.