FRANK McAveety, the embattled culture minister, found himself at the centre of fresh controversy yesterday after billing the taxpayer for the cost of a kilt jacket he bought last year. Mr McAveety, who has been subject to more speculation about his future as a minister than the other members of the Executive put together, claimed £279.90 for the dress jacket he wore at the Cannes Film Festival.I fully understand that it's common in the world of business for compensation to be paid for the hire of formal wear. But I do know of a recent VAT inspection in which the hire of a kilt was queried as not being absolutely necessary for business purposes! The inspector let the matter pass as the sum involved was very small and he probably only mentioned it because he could find nothing else wrong with the VAT returns. I am even willing to concede that the wearing of a kilt may be absolutely necessary for Scotland's arts minister. Whether there should be an arts minister is another question entirely.
So was it OK for our Frank to claim for his jacket?
I don't think so, as this letter points out:
The ability of our MSPs to live lavish lifestyles at our expense never fails to amaze me, and the latest episode relating to Frank McAveety, the minister for tourism, culture and sport, and his jacket (your report, 6 September) comes as no surprise.A new and unnecessary parliament building is now opening at a cost to the angry taxpayer of some £431 million. MSPs benefit from huge salaries and pensions. Few of them would be able to do anything like as well in the wealth-creating parts of the economy. So Mr Elder is correct: Frank McAveety has demonstrated a lack of "sensitivity or conscience". Anyone holding the position of minister in the Scottish Executive should be able to understand that claiming for a jacket on expenses would open himself to public ridicule.
Has the man no sensitivity or conscience?
Considering the overblown salaries our MSPs awarded themselves, I’m astounded that he cannot afford the price of a jacket to go with the kilt which he apparently managed to buy with his own money.