TOTTENHAM MP David Lammy has defended coming top of the list of parliamentary expenses in the last year.

According to data from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Mr Lammy claimed £173,922.06 in 2010-11, mostly on staff – more than any of the 649 other MPs in parliament.

He said: “These are the costs of running my office – the most deprived constituency in London, with the highest unemployment and a significant case-load regarding immigration, housing, benefits claims and other serious issues, needs a qualified staff and two busy offices.

“It would be impossible to answer the thousands of calls, emails and letters I receive every week without suitable offices and dedicated staff.

“In difficult times, the most vulnerable people need their MP to be fighting on their behalf. I could not do that without the staff and offices which are paid for through this funding.”

Employing more than five staff at Mr Lammy's Westminster and Tottenham offices cost £154,681.02, which is above the usual limit of £109,000.

But the independent watchdog approved the claims due to the heavy load of case-work in the constituency and the fact that one member of staff was on maternity leave for six months.

Former Haringey councillor Brian Haley, who is standing to be the Liberal Democrat's candidate for London Mayor, questioned why the figure was so much higher than Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone's claims, which totalled £96,052.58.

He said: “The question that the people of Tottenham have got to ask David is – are they getting value for money?”

To view details of MPs' expenses claims, click here.