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Last Updated: Friday, 5 August, 2005, 05:39 GMT 06:39 UK
MSPs get 1m to buy second homes
Holyrood chamber
The scheme was approved by the parliament
MSPs have been paid more than 1m by the taxpayer to purchase second homes in Edinburgh, it has emerged.

BBC Scotland has confirmed that the money was claimed by 38 politicians.

Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan has called for an official inquiry into what he calls widespread abuse of the Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance.

But a spokesman said the present scheme was approved by the Scottish Parliament in 2001 and that the regulations had been followed in every case.

The allowance enables MSPs who live more than 90 minutes' journey from the Scottish Parliament to have subsidised mortgages for second homes in the capital.

Subsidised flat

They can claim up to 10,600 per year towards housing expenses.

Mr Sheridan called for an investigation into three former Scottish National Party MSPs who he said had made more than 100,000 profit after selling their subsidised flats.

They had claimed mortgage allowances of 90,000 before selling up.

Tommy Sheridan
Tommy Sheridan says the rules need changed

Another four MSPs, who have now left the parliament, have kept flats with a current market value of nearly 500,000. They claimed subsidies of almost 130,000.

A parliament spokesman said the regulations had been followed.

However, Mr Sheridan said the rules need to be changed.

The Socialist MSP has already accused Scottish Executive ministers of using the accommodation allowance scheme to cash in on Edinburgh's property price boom.

Since 1999 the taxpayer has paid 11 executive ministers almost 340,000 towards the costs of the second homes they have bought in the capital.

The average house price in the city has almost doubled over that period.

Rented a flat

A number of ministers have bought flats, sold them and then used the profits to buy more expensive properties.

However, former Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace - one of those named by Mr Sheridan - said the accusation of property speculation was "rubbish".

He said he would have been costing the taxpayer "considerably more" if he had rented a flat or stayed in a hotel.

And he stressed that the allowance related to the interest on the mortgage, not any capital repayment.


SEE ALSO:
Ministers 'cash in' on property
04 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Charity condemns MSPs' expenses
16 Jun 05 |  Scotland
MSP expenses hit a total of 8m
22 Dec 04 |  Scotland
MSPs' expenses revealed
04 Dec 03 |  Scotland


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