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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 08:08 GMT
MSP expenses hit a total of 8m
Keith Raffan MSP
Keith Raffan said he got behind on his travel expenses
Scotland's MSPs cost the taxpayer nearly 8m last year in expenses claimed on top on their salaries, according to latest figures.

The money paid for staff, travel, accommodation and other costs and allowances.

It represented an increase of 400,000, or 5.3%, on the previous year.

Keith Raffan, Lib Dem MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, topped the list, taking 108,826 in allowances, of which 41,154 was for travel.

However, Mr Raffan said the travel sum was for three years, after he fell behind with his expenses.

"My expenses for the last financial year 2002-03 were significantly inflated by the payment of a very considerable backlog of travel expenses covering a three-year period," said Mr Raffan.

He added: "When these are subtracted, my actual expenses incurred in 2002-03 amounted to under 70,000, which is very much the average for MSPs.

"I did not give my travel expenses sufficient priority.

"I made my constituency and parliamentary work my priority, with the result that I got behind in my travel expenses."

Expenses top ten
Keith Raffan - 108,826
Jamie Stone - 92,188
Alex Fergusson - 90,285
Alasdair Morrison - 89,397
George Lyon - 87,132
Cathy Jamieson - 85,947
Fergus Ewing - 84, 401
Stewart Stevenson - 84,223
Maureen Macmillan - 83,676
David Mundell - 83,009

Officials said this year's total of 7.9m was mainly attributable to staff and accommodation costs.

But the increase also included one-off payments totalling 298,000 to MSPs who stood down or lost their seats at the 2003 election.

"The increases in members' staff salaries and office running costs are also reflected in this year's figure," said officials.

MSPs can claim costs of up to 52,000 for employing staff and running a local office.

MSPs who cannot "reasonably" commute to Edinburgh can claim up to 9,900 for accommodation in the capital, and costs of travel for parliamentary duties can also be reclaimed.

Smallest expenses

Party leaders' allowances are also payable - 10,245 in the case of the SNP's John Swinney, who later stood down, and 10,829 in the case of the Tories' David McLetchie.

The smallest expenses bill - excluding MSPs who stood down in 2003 - was 43,345 for Green Lothians MSP Robin Harper, followed by 45,588 for Labour's Christine May, who succeeded Henry McLeish as MSP for Central Fife.

SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson received 50,533, while Labour Dunfermline West MSP Scott Barrie had the next lowest at 51,267.

A total of 51,308 went to Tory West of Scotland MSP Annabel Goldie, closely followed by Green Lothians MSP Mark Ballard 51,662 and SNP Glasgow MSP Sandra White 51,970.

SNP Lothians MSP Fiona Hyslop received 52,663, Richard Baker, Labour MSP for North East Scotland, received 54,682 while Labour MSP Irene Oldfather, who represents Ayrshire's Cunninghame South constituency, received the ninth smallest total - 54,065.


SEE ALSO:
MSPs' expenses revealed
04 Dec 03 |  Scotland


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