Lothian politician expenses claims down by £25,000

An Asda sandwich toaster was claimed by SNP MSP Colin Beattie

An Asda sandwich toaster was claimed by SNP MSP Colin Beattie

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A SANDWICH toaster, office graphics and a jar of coffee are among the items which taxpayers paid for in the latest list of MSPs’ expenses.

The 18 Edinburgh and Lothians representatives at Holyrood claimed a total of £35,140 for the third quarter of the last financial year, October-December, 2012.

Colin Beattie, SNP MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh, claimed £29.96 for a sandwich toaster from Asda under “office equipment”.

His other claims included £1 for soap from Marks & ­Spencer. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, SNP MSP for ­Edinburgh Eastern, included a £2.49 jar of Morrison’s instant coffee in his £5309 claim, the highest total among the MSPs in the area.

He also claimed £5.45 for toilet cleaner, bin liners, ­bathroom spray, handwash and wipes from Morrison’s.

Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie claimed £510 for painting his constituency office in Morningside Drive,

He also claimed £300 for office graphics and £322.08 for a lock, two noticeboards, two whiteboards, a mirror and a picture.

Christine Grahame, SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, claimed £43.67 for English-Polish translation services. And East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray’s £3651 total included £355 for computer maintenance.

The claims by Edinburgh and Lothian MSPs for the third quarter of the 2012/13 financial year were significantly down on the £60,292 racked up for the equivalent quarter the ­previous year.

But the amounts different MSPs in different quarters claim can can vary dramatically simply because of the timing of when bills or other expenses aren paid during the year.

Edinburgh Western SNP MSP Colin Keir had the lowest claim in the area – just £35 for data protection.

Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald had the second lowest claim – £121.85, which included information and newspaper subscriptions and tea, coffee and biscuits for visiting constituents. MSPs agreed in November 2010 to freeze their pay and allowances from the following April to save £1.5 million and give a lead on wage restraint in the severe economic climate.

But earlier this year the cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body decided to return to the previous system of uprating expenses in line with inflation or earnings – while also rounding up any increase to the nearest £100. From April 1, the ­maximum annual claim for office costs went up from £16,300 to £16,900.

The limit on staff costs increased by 1.3 per cent, from £59,500 to £60,300 per year, based on the rise in average weekly earnings.

There has been no increase in mileage rates which are set nationally by HM Revenue and Customs.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com

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