West Midlands MPs have claimed almost #7 million in expenses, on top of salaries of #59,686 each.

Official figures showed Worcestershire MP Jacqui Smith (Lab Redditch) was the third most expensive MP in the Commons.

She claimed #158,313 in the last financial year, including #16,458 for postage alone.

The most expensive Birmingham MP was Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill) – who was the seventh most expensive MP in the country. He claimed #156,988. Both MPs insisted the cost simply reflected the amount of hard work they put in to serving constituents.

But they were also defended by the MP with the lowest expenses bill in the region.

David Winnick (Lab Walsall North) claimed just #80,450.

He said: "I'm surprised we call these costs expenses, as they include things like the salary of our secretaries."

The money represented costs MPs had to pay in order to do their jobs, he said.

MPs across the country claimed more than #86 million in expenses and allowances last year, including #6.9 million in the West Midlands.

The figures did not include MPs' pensions, which cost a total of #38 million nationally.

Ms Smith received #21,596 to subsidise accommodation in London and #19,853 for office costs.

She paid her office staff a total of #83,838 and spent #9,935 on travel as well as #697 in travel expenses for her staff.

The MP spent #5,788 on stationery and another #16,458 on pre-paid envelopes. Finally, she spent #148 on computer equipment.

Last night she said: "'Expenses have to be spent on the things I need in order to do my job as an active and dedicated constituency Member of Parliament, such as staffing, rent for my office, computers, postage for my mail and stationery.

"My constituents rightly demand a high level of service, which is why I invest in providing a hard working, constituency-based hub for my local casework and campaigning activities."

Mr Byrne said: "Working hard for your constituents does mean writing a lot of letters. It is what I promised to do when I was elected.

"I notice that if you take out my bill for stamps, then I fall to third place in Birmingham and 176th nationally."

Black Country MP Ian Austin was also one of the top ten most highest-spending MPs. He claimed #155,242, the tenth highest figure in the country.

Mr Austin said: "Most of this money is used to pay for my office and staff, which is essential in order to serve the people of Dudley."

Among the party leaders, Conservative David Cameron claimed the highest expenses. He spent #135,729 last year.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell clocked up #123,617, while Tony Blair claimed expenses worth #87,342 in his role as a constituency MP.

But the most expensive MP in the United Kingdom was Labour’s Eric Joyce. The MP for Falkirk in Scotland claimed a total of #174,811.

Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat MP who acts as spokesman for the Members' Estimate Committee which released the figures, said the figures showed that MPs represented "excellent value for money".

"This money is for the essential cost of staffing and running their offices in Parliament and in the area they represent," he said.

"In the age of instant communication, constituents demand that their MP can be contacted wherever and whenever necessary, and that he or she should be in touch with all important issues – locally and nationally."