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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 19:28 GMT
MSP expenses claims rise to 9m
Holyrood chamber
MSPs' expenses claims can be viewed online
Expenses claimed by MSPs have risen by 8% in the past year to 9.4m, according to the latest Holyrood figures.

Highland and Island MSPs were among the highest, with Labour's Alasdair Morrison topping the list from the mainstream parties.

Seven of the highest claims came from minority parties. However, the SSP, Solidarity and Greens include staff salaries in their expenses.

The independent Margo MacDonald's claims were the lowest of any MSP.

Western Isles Labour MSP Alasdair Morrison defended his claim of more than 54,000.

He said he had to take three or four flights each week to travel between Holyrood and the Western Isles.

Staff salary

Margo MacDonald, who claimed about 2,500, said she consciously tried to be careful with public money and added that it was up to the electorate to decide who provides best value for money.

The salaries of office staff employed directly by MSPs do not show up in the data in order to protect staffs' privacy.

However, MSPs from minority parties tend to pool their resources to pay staff, and this cost does show up in their figures.

Green MSP Shiona Baird said: "When our expenses are calculated in the same way as other parties, we are average or below average in our expenditure."

Rosemary Byrne - 62,775.56
Carolyn Leckie - 60,812.00
Frances Curran - 58,850.89
Alasdair Morrison - 54,442.00
Tommy Sheridan - 53,548.00
Rosie Kane - 51,848.00
Colin Fox - 49,791.07
Jamie Stone - 48,274.00
Shiona Baird - 47,978.91
Jamie McGrigor - 47,942.00

Solidarity MSPs Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne also raised concern at the figures.

Mr Sheridan said: "Once the staffing costs are removed, my expenditure is just over 15,000 and Rosemary Byrne, despite representing a large area, the South of Scotland, has maintained expenses of below 23,000."

An SSP spokesman said: "Although SSP members appear to have high expenses, it is not the case but simply reflects a different way of structuring staff costs."

The figures do not include office equipment and supplies, where there were huge differences in what individual MSPs spent.

Overall, furniture and equipment costs went down by 50%, to 378,000, and party leaders' allowances fell by even more, from 8,653 to 1,919.

In total 9.768m was paid out in the 2005-06 financial year, a rise of 307,000, or 3%, on the previous year.

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