Borders MSPs’ allowances topped £80,000 last year, figures reveal

Borders MP John Lamont claimed more than �34,000 in allowances as an MSP last year, and his replacement, former Conservative list MSP Rachael Hamilton, claimed almost �14,000 in 10 months.
Borders MP John Lamont claimed more than �34,000 in allowances as an MSP last year, and his replacement, former Conservative list MSP Rachael Hamilton, claimed almost �14,000 in 10 months.

Total allowances of more than £80,000 were claimed last financial year by the four MSPs with offices in the Borders at that time, according to figures published by the Scottish Parliament.

At the top of the list is John Lamont, Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwick from 2007 until April this year, when he resigned that seat and went on to be elected as MP for Berwick, Roxburgh and Selkirk the following month.

In his last full year at Holyrood, Mr Lamont, based at an office in Hawick High Street, claimed total allowances of £34,217.

That was made up of 436 separate claims comprising 35 for stays in Edinburgh hotels, costing £4,111 altogether; 224 for travel, costing £6,845; 108 for office provision, worth £17,775; 37 for staff travel at £1,627; 14 for telecommunications at £1,337; and 16 for surgery advertising at £2,489.

Christine Grahame, Scottish National Party MSP for Midlothian South, Ettrick and Lauderdale since 2011 and based at an office in Bank Street in Galashiels, claimed total allowances of £19,249.

That consisted of 176 separate claims – 75 for travel at £972, 75 for office provision at £16,458, nine for staff travel at £220, 10 for telecommunications at £688 and three for surgery advertising at £813.

Paul Wheelhouse, a South Scotland list MSP for the SNP with an office in Hawick’s Sandbed, claimed allowances totalling £16,169.

The business, innovation and energy minister’s 96 claims comprised 30 for accommodation in Edinburgh at £5,933, 12 for travel at £375, 40 for office provision at £9,246 and 13 for telecommunications at £555.

Over the last five years, Mr Lamont claimed £168,844 in total, Ms Grahame £98,830 and Mr Wheelhouse £85,962.

The allowances paid to Rachael Hamilton, elected as a South Scotland list MSP for the Conservatives in May 2016 and then to the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwick seat vacated by Mr Lamont a year later, only cover the 10 months to March 31, 2017.

During that period, Mrs Hamilton, now moving into an office of her own in Kelso after previously sharing with Mr Lamont, received £13,962 in allowances for 118 claims including 17, together worth £11,034, for Edinburgh hotels and other accommodation; 70, together costing £1,735, for travel; 13 for office costs for advertising, hall hire for surgeries, printing and photocopying at £761; and 12 for staff travel at £78.60.

Her list seat was taken over by Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne in May.