Cost of MSPs' second homes 'covered up' by parliament

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PARLIAMENT bosses were today accused of a "cover-up" over the use of taxpayers' money to finance second homes for MSPs.

Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan has waged a long- running campaign for the scrapping of the Edinburgh accommodation allowance which allows MSPs who live too far away to commute to the Capital to buy private properties at public expense and later pocket the profits of any future sale.

But former SSP leader Mr Sheridan said he was amazed when parliament officials refused to reveal how many of the 48 mortgages financed through the scheme were 100 per cent loans which were entirely funded by the taxpayer.

Today Mr Sheridan used Freedom of Information legislation to lodge an appeal against the refusal and said he would refer it to the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner if necessary.

Another refusal - to disclose the value of each mortgage - is already being investigated by the commissioner's office. Mr Sheridan said he had not asked for individual MSPs to be identified.

But he added: "The fact an MSP uses some of their own capital to add to public support for a mortgage should be taken into consideration in any future scheme to require MSPs to pay back personal profits made in the future sale of a purchased property."

He claimed that the continuing refusal to reveal information was turning into a "farcical cover-up".

"I am constantly told there is nothing illegal going on. So what is there to hide?" he added.