Cabinet bill rises despite pay freeze

Alex Salmond has come under fire after his government’s ministerial wage bill jumped by £170,000 – despite a pay freeze.

The size of the First Minister’s Cabinet increased from six to nine senior ministers in the aftermath of the SNP’s election victory.

The issue came under the spotlight during yesterday’s meeting of Holyrood’s finance committee.

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Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur, who sits on Holyrood’s corporate body, was asked to explain this rise and attributed it to the increased number of people in the Cabinet.

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said: “People will rightly start asking why the budget for MSPs’ pay shows such a large increase.

“That the rise is entirely caused by Alex Salmond’s decision to expand the size of his Cabinet will be seen by many as unacceptable.”

But a Scottish Government spokesman said: “All ministers have taken a pay freeze for both their MSP and ministerial salaries for the past three years, and will continue to do so.

“The current Cabinet team of nine elected members compares to ten during the administration of Donald Dewar, and 11 during Henry McLeish’s and Jack McConnell’s terms as first minister.”