POLITICAL parties spent more than £50,000 on media monitoring in the run-up to the independence referendum, new expenses data has revealed.
Labour paid £29,756 to a media monitoring firm in March while the SNP spends £1,488 a month for an online press cuttings service, expenses returns for the 18 months to September reveal.
Computer hardware was also a big-ticket item for some politicians in the first six months of 2014/15.
Labour MSP Margaret McCulloch claimed £1,399 for a top-of-the-range MacBook Pro from the Apple Store while SNP MSP David Stewart settled for a £319 Acer Aspire from a budget IT website.
SNP MSPs Stewart Maxwell and Stuart McMillan claimed £500 each for machines that fold paper, Labour’s Cara Hilton claimed £150 for a camera and Alison McInnes of the Lib Dems claimed £130 for a SatNav.
New Justice Secretary Michael Matheson spent £108 on a tabletop fridge while science and learning minister Alasdair Allan found one in Argos for £80.
Travelling on two wheels appears to be the transport of choice for South of Scotland MSPs, with Labour’s Claudia Beamish claiming 60p a time for her bicycle trip from her Edinburgh accommodation to Holyrood and Lib Dem Jim Hume claiming £30 for his motorcycle ride into work.
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Island taxpayers face bills of about £470 per return trip to fly Liberal Democrat MSPs Liam McArthur (Orkney) and Tavish Scott (Shetland) to parliament.
Conservative MSPs appear to be the chattiest, with Mary Scanlon claiming £182 on her mobile bill in a single month, followed by Jamie McGrigor, who claimed £137, although Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was not far behind with two £100-plus monthly mobile bills.
Politicians claim an average of £20 a plate for a hotel meals courtesy of the public purse.
SNP MSP Richard Lyle, who claimed just £1.80 last year for dinner from Holyrood’s local chippy, remains the Parliament’s budget diner with a series of hotel meals for under £5.
This contrasts with parliamentary business minister Joe Fitzpatrick, who is at the top of the dinner expenses menu claiming £142 for five hotel meals at an average cost of £28 a meal.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be grateful for her new Edinburgh city centre Bute House residence, having claimed £1,768 on Edinburgh hotels in the six months to September.
Labour MSP Alex Rowley paid £1,405 to fit out his constituency office, including the installation of a new oak counter while SNP MSP Willie Coffey claimed £919 for painting and decorating.
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