Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 16:01 UK

Expenses of MSPs examined again

Holyrood
Holyrood undertook a review of its expenses system last year

The system of expenses given to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament is to examined in the wake of the scandal over allowances for MPs at Westminster.

A full-scale review of Holyrood's expenses was completed just last year but its corporate body said it could not be "complacent" over such issues.

Former Electoral Commissioner, Sir Neil McIntosh, will check if the current system can "command public confidence".

The review should be completed by the end of the year.

The inquiry was announced by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).

Good practice

Sir Neil's inquiry will take account of any findings from the current reviews of parliamentary expenses at Westminster.

The Scottish Parliament's presiding officer Alex Fergusson said Holyrood had been held up as a benchmark of "good practice".

He said: "The corporate body, with strong support from all the main party leaders in the parliament, wants to ensure it continues to be seen in that light and that any opportunities for further improvements are embraced.

"I am extremely grateful that Sir Neil has agreed to take on this role. His credentials as a man of independent mind make him ideally suited to the task and we welcome his involvement."

An independent probe by Dundee University principal Sir Alan Langlands began in the summer of 2007 after some MSPs were criticised for making money by buying and selling properties, part-funded by the taxpayer, under the Edinburgh accommodation allowance scheme.

The allowance scheme had also drawn criticism for allowing members to make claims for council tax and TV licences.

In March last year Sir Alan's said the practice where some MSPs could claim interest on the mortgages should end.

Certain members are able to claim for renting accommodation or an overnight hotel rate instead.

Sir Alan's review also concluded there should be a maximum of £62,000 for staff for constituency MSPs and £45,000 for list MSPs, reflecting what it described as different casework loads for the two types.

MSPs later rejected this in favour of £54,562 for all staff salary costs.



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