ST ALBANS MP Anne Main has defended herself after being criticised for claiming more than £22,000 in second homes costs.

The Sunday Telegraph named the MP as one of four receiving up to £24,000-a-year in Additional Cost Allowances which reimburses the cost of staying away from their main home for the purpose of parliamentary duties.

The vast majority of MPs use the allowance to support two homes necessary for their job - a house in their constituency and a flat close to Parliament.

But Mrs Main and MPs Bob Neill, Harry Cohen and Jacqui Lait all commute from their second homes based in their outer London constituency, enabling them to have their main home elsewhere in the country.

The arrangement is allowed by House of Commons rules, but on Sunday was labelled as "incredible" by Liberal Democrat MP Edward Davey.

Mrs Main said: "We have had a family home in Buckinghamshire for many years prior to my election and I now have a small home in St Albans, a situation that has been a matter of public knowledge ever since I was elected and is actually quite a commonplace arrangement amongst other MPs of all political parties.

"I can understand why the public does not like this current system - I don't either.

"But unless this system is radically overhauled we run the risk that MPs will need to be independently wealthy, or part time successful business people who can "afford" to part fund their political career by paying for accommodation in London and or accommodation in the constituencies they represent."

Mr Davey, who lives in his outer London constituency and commutes to Westminster, does not claim ACA despite also bearing the cost of a second home in Dorset with his wife, Emily.

He said: "To use the ACA in this way is incredible. MPs should not just play within the letter of the law but also within the spirit of the law. The people opposing reform of this system are bringing democracy and Parliament into disrepute."