The price we have to pay for open government

On Friday it was revealed that the former Conservative MSP, Brian Monteith, agreed to repay the Scottish Parliament £250 for wrongly-claimed taxi expenses. Now more staff have been recruited by Holyrood to handle the soaring number of expense claims by MSPs, according to Rosie Kane in the Mail on Sunday.

Two more administrators are required to deal with a £1.9 million rise in allowances in the last three years - an average increase of £15,000 per member, bringing the department staffing level to 11 with an annual wage bill of more than £250,000. The workers will be responsible for administering travel and expenses claims for all parliamentary staff, MSPs and their families.

Last night, Bill Aitken, chief Conservative whip at Holyrood, said: "The feeding frenzy over the Freedom of Information Act comes at a price and we now know it is a huge price the taxpayer is having to pay."

More staff to handle MSPs' expenses: Rosie Kane on the price of war (Sunday Mail, 5 February 2006)