MSPs’ £12.5m in expenses (including a bowl for £1)

MSPs pocketed £12.49 million in expenses over the last financial year with claims ranging from a £1 bowl to computer equipment worth several thousand pounds.

Overall spending on MSP salaries, pensions and expenses were down by £25,000. Picture: PA

The annual publication of MSPs’ expenses showed the amount claimed had fallen by two per cent on the previous year – the equivalent of £25,238.

Items claimed for ranged from large and small, with SNP MSP Colin Beattie charging the taxpayer for his bowl, purchased from “Bargain Buys”.

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At the other end of the scale rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead claimed £1,289 for a 27in-screen Mac computer - and he needed a £12.99 “Switch To Mac” manual to learn how to use it.

Ex-cabinet minister Michael Russell paid £1,399 for a top-of-the-range MacBook Pro while his SNP colleague David Stewart settled for a £319 budget Acer.

Labour backbencher Margaret McCulloch also claimed £1,399 for a 27in Mac desktop computer, while SNP MSP Colin Keir claimed for a £4,194 digital printer.

Paper-folding machines were popular office expenses, from the £899 model claimed by Labour MSP Mary Fee, to SNP MSPs Stewart Maxwell and Stuart McMillan’s £500 folders.

As in previous years, the MSPs from far-flung constituencies were among the highest claimers with travel expenses accounting for a large proportion of their expenses bills.

Liam McArthur, the Lib Dem MSP for Orkney, claimed a total of £40,320 and his colleague Tavish Scott, MSP for Shetland, claimed £49,273.

Mr Scott was also found to be the only MSP to regularly claim for a ride on Edinburgh’s tram.

Mr Scott, who piloted the final tram bill through Holyrood in 2006 when he was transport minister, has claimed for 11 £5 journeys from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre.

The SNP MSP Chic Brodie was another big claimer with his total coming to more than £52,000. However, Mr Brodie’s bill included money for outsourcing staff. Other MSPs use a separate allowance of up to £62,000 to pay their staff – details of which are not included in the figures published yesterday.

A spokesman for the SNP said yesterday: “Mr Brodie outsources the majority of his staffing costs - and his real overall staffing bill is in line with other MSPs.” 

Despite resigning as an MSP two years ago following his conviction for assaulting his ex-wives, the former SNP politician Bill Walker managed to claim £76.18 as “winding up provision”.