Wednesday 21 February 2007

Well, I got this one right

In the 2003 Holyrood election I gave my "list" vote to Margo MacDonald in recognition of her valiant work in monitoring the costs of the Holyrood building fiasco.

We learn today that MSP's expense claims for last year rose by 8% with top claimant being:

Rosemary Byrne, the former SSP MSP and now a Solidarity MSP. She charged £63,338.56.
Ms MacDonald, on the other hand, claimed less than any other member:
SOME MSPs seem to claim for everything they can. Margo MacDonald, the independent MSP for the Lothians, claims for almost nothing.

Of the £3,199.57 she charged the taxpayer last year, the vast majority - £2,120.63 - was for taxis to get her round Edinburgh.

Of the rest, £357.71 was spent on public meetings and £588 on office supplies. Her expenses have actually also gone down, by £267.38 on the year before, showing other MSPs what can be done.

The £588 on office supplies was used to send out just one end-of-term report to her constituents - despite fellow MSPs sending out several newsletters a year. She claimed nothing on newspapers, nor on refreshments or meals.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comment made on previous template:

I have never understood the interest in disecting MSPs' expenses. Effective representation costs money. MSPs need staff, they need to carry out research, they need to tell people what they have done. Don't forget that MSPs have the task of scrutinising the Scottish Executive, an organisation with a budget pushing £30 billion. The total expenses of all MSPs are 0.03% of this figure - one thirty-thousandth. You only have to think of the money wasted by executive government for the small change that goes on supporting MSPs' offices to pale into insignificance.  
Scotland's government hasn't yet had many of the spectacular disasters that have plagued the UK government in recent years - the CSA computer system (£800 million wasted), the GCHQ IT upgrade (£300 million wasted), the Individual Learning Accounts IT system (£250 million wasted), the Rural Payments Agency, and so on. One of the roles of members of Parliament is, through scrutiny, to stop this happening, or at least let the public know when it has. They need to spend money on staff and research to carry out this role.  
Another of Parliament's roles is to scrutinise legislation. This also requires staff time to examine the legislation. If Parliament gets it wrong, it can be very costly.  
So, for a little bit more money spent on Parliament, we could perhaps even get a much more effective executive government.  
There is not as much scrutiny of MPs' expenses, not because they spend less, but because the information is not available. The only reason the figures are available for the Scottish Parliament is because the Scottish Parliament is one of the few legislatures in Europe that publish this type of information.  
Personally, I have never understood the myth of Margo Macdonald. I have met her, and found her as unpleasant in person as her politics are. If she only claims £3000 in expenses she can't be doing very much work.

27 February 2007, 22:43:02 GMT
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Although I profoundly disagree with her nationalism, Margo MacDonald is (or at least seems to be) one of the truly great human beings at Holyrood.  
She walked away from the party to which she had dedicated her political life when she discovered it was replete with gossiping guttersnipes, and without her efforts there might have been no Holyrood enquiry. 
More power to your elbow, Ma'am; and many years to wield it.

22 February 2007, 05:51:19 GMT
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Well, that's OK then. If they're legit, of course.

21 February 2007, 18:52:24 GMT
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Sam Duncan
Of course that's still £3,199.57 on top of a £50,000 salary. If I was on that kind of money I think I'd probably be able to scratch a few quid together for taxis, stamps and biros myself. 
Still, fair play to her, they do seem to be legitimate expenses, which is more than can be said for a lot of them.

21 February 2007, 18:25:23 GMT