MSPs' allowances under scrutiny

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act may have improved accountability by forcing the Scottish Parliament to make MSPs' allowances and travel expenses available to the public for scrutiny, but it seems the story goes on.

The Sunday Herald recently disclosed that Labour MSP John Home Robertson was using the allowances system to bill the public £7000 a year to stay in his son’s flat while the Transport Minister, Tavish Scott, is charging the public nearly £1000 a month in mortgage interest payments to help him buy a £380,000 house in Edinburgh.

It was revealed that John Home Robertson was charging the public £600 a month to stay in his son’s flat. Records show that the MSP’s son, then aged 17, bought a £72,000 flat just weeks before his father was elected to Holyrood. No mortgage was required to purchase the property. Mr Scott, meanwhile, is also entitled to claim the £1920 council tax on his new band-G house and has claimed more than £50,000 in Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance payments since 1999.

The allowance has enabled several MSPs, including Mr Scott, to make substantial profits on properties bought with the help of taxpayers’ money. Critics are calling for the allowances system to be scrapped.

Calls to scrap allowance as MSP claims £979 a month for mortgage (The Scotsman, 6 November 2006)

Revealed: more MSPs benefit from Holyrood property gravy train (The Herald, 5 November 2006)