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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 14:23 GMT
MSP expenses published in detail
Expenses report
The amount of information made public has been vastly increased
Officials at the Scottish Parliament have published unprecedented details of MSPs' expenses claims.

The move is intended to reinforce the parliament's reputation as among the most open in the world.

In previous years, about 12 pages of expenses were made available but this year that has increased to about 700.

The total cost of MSPs' allowances, expenses, furniture and equipment increased by 100,000 to 9.5m over the last year.

The publication of the more detailed figures follows the resignation of former Scottish Conservative David McLetchie following controversy over his taxi expenses.

The statistics showed that he claimed more than 2,300 for taxis during 2004-05.

Deputy Finance Minister George Lyon claimed the highest overall sum, more than 67,000.

Western Isles Labour MSP Alasdair Morrison was the top claimant for travel expenses with a bill of almost 20,000.

There was a contrast between the travel expenses of two Scottish National Party list MSPs for Central Scotland, with Alex Neil claiming 11,400 and Michael Matheson just 3,700.

As individuals we contribute to a common pool of funds from our members' support allowances
Shiona Baird
Green MSP

Mr Neil pointed out that he lived in Ayr and said his role as a committee convener sometimes led to additional work.

He added: "I've got an attendance record second to none in the constituency."

The Labour MSP for Paisley North, Wendy Alexander, had the highest office supplies bill of more than 15,000.

Green MSPs filled the top six places for claims for members' support allowances (MSA) with a total of 238,303 but the party said this figure was unfairly high as it included the bulk of staff costs.

The MSA for other MSPs excluded these staff costs.

Eleanor Scott, the party's member for the Highlands and Islands, topped the list after claiming more than 43,700. Her PA's salary is included in this figure, as well as salaries for other staff, making her individual claim 13,045.

Holyrood chamber
The 129 MSPs claimed almost 10m over the last year

Her partner, the SNP's Rob Gibson, claimed 16,300 in the same constituency.

The Greens' claims were defended by the party's co-leader Shiona Baird, who explained that the seven MSPs shared their staff.

"As individuals we contribute to a common pool of funds from our MSA. The other MSPs, as far as I can gather, don't actually do that," she said.

The majority of the costs incurred by the 129 MSPs were attributed to staff and accommodation.

Allowances and expenditure claims rose by 125,273 to almost 8.7m, although claims for the party leaders' allowance fell by 12,420 to 8,653.

Staff resources

The increased openness was welcomed by Scotland's Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion.

Presiding Officer George Reid said the public had a right to know how MSPs were spending their allowances and it was more proof of Holyrood's commitment to transparency.

It has also been seen as a response to the huge number of Freedom of Information requests being made by the media, which have had an impact on staff resources.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See more details of the expenses claims



SEE ALSO:
MSP expense claims 'to go online'
02 Nov 05 |  Scotland
McLetchie resigns as Tory leader
31 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Pension approved for former MSP
16 Sep 05 |  Scotland


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