Taxpayers to continue paying rent for Alba MPs who will no longer regularly travel to Westminster

Taxpayers will continue to pay for at least one London flat rented by Alba MPs no longer making the “routine sojourn” to London to represent their constituencies.

Alba Party MP, Kenny MacAskill, at a photocall on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, during the Holyrood election campaign.

Alba MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey claimed more than £50,000 for flats or hotel accommodation in London since they were elected to the House of Commons in 2019, records show.

This cost to taxpayers will continue at least in part after Mr MacAskill confirmed to The Scotsman he was unable to end his three-year tenancy on his bedsit due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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This is despite the announcement from the pair that, following their defections to the new party led by Alex Salmond which failed to elect a single representative to Holyrood at the Scottish Parliament elections last week, they would not travel to Westminster routinely.

ALBA Party leader Alex Salmond(L) alongside the Mid Scotland and Fife candidates Jim Eadie, Neale Hanvey MP and and Eva Comrie during a photo call during the Scottish Parliamentary election campaign.

In a joint statement posted on the Alba Party website, the MPs said they would only travel to London when “it affords an opportunity to promote Scottish interests” and said they would vote “when appropriate”.

Records show Mr Hanvey has claimed £4,025 in hotel accommodation costs and £25,791.68 in rent, council tax, and utilities for his London flat since his election as an independent MP in 2019.

The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, who was later readmitted to the SNP, rents a flat for £2,535 per month.

Kenny MacAskill, who represents East Lothian for Alba, also rents a flat in London for £1,711 per month, with the total cost of his accommodation including council tax and utilities equal to £21,000.78 since his election.

There is no question of wrongdoing for either MP as parliament rules allow for accommodation costs for MPs to be reimbursed.

However, in response to a question asking whether the MPs would continue to claim for their accommodation costs in London while Alba MPs given their new stance on attendance, Mr MacAskill said he would not extend his three-year lease on his “bedsit”.

He said: “As with many MPs I have a small bed sit in London. The lease is in the standard terms from IPSA.

"I have been unable to terminate it during Covid given the contractual terms but will not be extending it. In the interim it’ll be used by me when attending parliament or other meetings.”

Mr Hanvey did not respond to questions on whether he would also continue to expense a London flat.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the MPs explained their stance on attending the House of Commons.

They said: "Alba isn’t an abstentionist party. Westminster isn’t our parliament but having been elected there it’s up to us to use it and maximise its benefit for our cause (as well as of course representing our constituents to the very best of our abilities).

“Attendance in the Commons will be when it affords an opportunity to promote Scottish interests, not a routine sojourn to London. There’s plenty work to be doing in our constituencies and across Scotland, and that’ll be our focus. We’ll vote when appropriate on issues as they arise.

“Since our election in 2019 not one vote was won by the SNP, let alone the opposition. Our two votes either way are not going to make any difference.”

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