LOTHIAN politicians have emerged as among the most frugal at Holyrood despite an increase in the total bill for MSPs’ expenses.
Six of the area’s representatives are included in the ten MSPs with the lowest claims last year.
Altogether MSPs claimed just over £12.8 million in expenses in 2011-12, up 8.2 per cent on the previous year. The parliament blamed the rise on the “winding-up” allowances paid to MSPs who stood down or lost their seats at last year’s elections.
Meanwhile, MSPs who were first elected last year have been claiming for the cost of setting up their offices with everything from door handles to microwaves.
Colin Beattie, new MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh, claimed £129.39 for a list of items from Tesco including a vacuum cleaner, mugs, glasses, wall clock, teaspoons, toilet brush, bucket and mop. He also claimed £110 for a microwave, toaster and kettle from Next, £77.57 for a shopping expedition which included door handles and bolts from B&Q and £135.42 for another including a fridge from Currys and forks, knives and spoons from Tesco.
Edinburgh Central’s new MSP Marco Biagi claimed £188.97 for a table-top fridge and microwave with grill from Currys, £62.95 for an Argos thermos pump, a value cylinder cleaner, black mugs, and a mop and bucket. and £4.93 for a recycling bin. And new Edinburgh Western MSP Gordon MacDonald’s claims included £7.49 for an Ikea table, £144 for Ikea kitchen units, £143.97 for a fridge, toaster and kettle from Comet, and £8.35 for a door stop and toilet signs.
Altogether, the 18 MSPs covering Edinburgh and the Lothians claimed £219,530 – roughly the same as last year.
Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald claimed the lowest amount of any Lothians politician – £3655.75.
Other Lothians MSPs in the bottom ten claimers were Tory Gavin Brown (£4749.16), Labour’s Kezia Dugdale (£5742), Green Alison Johnstone (£8613.38) and Labour’s Sarah Boyack (£8868.74) and Neil Findlay (£9531.32).Mr Findlay’s claims included £43.30 for maps and £57 for an Asda camera.
First Minister Alex Salmond claimed £13,361 on expenses such as office rent, travel costs including mileage and phone bills. Labour leader Johann Lamont claimed £17,831, which included overnight hotel stays in Edinburgh as well as taxi and train fares.
Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed a total of £20,440, including £148 in June 2011, shortly after the Scottish elections, for MSP staff training entitled “dealing with difficult people”.
Willie Rennie, leader of the Lib Dems, claimed £19,738, including almost £361 on return flights from Edinburgh to Heathrow in July 2011.
Green Party leader Patrick Harvie claimed £24,266, including rail passes, overnight hotel stays and other costs.
A total of 48 MSPs claimed winding-up expenses in 2011, which include staff salary costs, staff redundancy and office and accommodation costs.