How MSPs are made to account for every penny

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Indy Politics

Members of the Scottish Parliament publish details of their expenses down to the last bus ticket.

Freedom of information laws have meant that all claims by MSPs, no matter how small, have been published since 2006.

Whereas Westminster MPs can claim up to £250 without a receipt, their counterparts at Holyrood must provide bills for every penny they claim.

The former Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie stood down after wrongly claiming taxi fares.

Only claims for travelling by car are exempt from the rules, which allow voters to scrutinise their elected representatives' expenses in minute detail.

Voters can access details of about 150 types of expenditure at the click of a button. Expenses published quarterly include money claimed for key cutting, tea, coffee and biscuits for meetings, mobile telephones and bus tickets.

Entries include a £2.99 pack of lavatory paper, £6.50 for a set of keys and sums as small as £1 claimed for cycling to and from Holyrood by bike.

Until recently, the Scottish Parliament even published copies of original receipts, although now the sheer volume of data has forced officials to scale the publication back to details of claims.

Officials have also stopped publishing full details of taxi claims amid fears that they could reveal too much about politicians' personal lives.

The rules appear to have limited claims after they were introduced in June 2006. Figures for the full 2006-07 financial year showed that MSPs claimed £9.7m, a modest rise of less than 3 per cent on the previous year.

MSPs are paid £53,091 a year, about £7,000 less than their Westminster counterparts. They can claim up to £60,700 in expenses for staff and support costs, well below the maximum for Westminster.

Andrew Grice on the day's issues independent.co.uk/todayinpolitics

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