MSPs’ Christmas cards face the last post

Jim Eadie with one of the parliament's official Christmas cards. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Jim Eadie with one of the parliament's official Christmas cards. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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EXCLUSIVE cards with seasonal greetings from Scotland’s politicians will soon be taking their place on mantelpieces across the country.

But this year could be the last post for traditional Christmas cards sent by MSPs.

From next year, elected representatives at Holyrood will be encouraged to abandon paper cards and send digital greetings instead.

The environmentally-friendly move could save thousands of pounds in postage costs, currently picked up by taxpayers.

The popularity of the parliament’s official cards – only available to MSPs and staff – has declined over the years since the first Christmas after devolution when 20,000 were printed and sold out in no time.

But thousands are still sent each year. And this year there are nine designs for MSPs to choose from – including three brand new ones.

The politicians are not allowed to put the cost of buying the cards on their expenses, but they can claim for posting them second class – 53p per card for a stamp or 35p if they are franked in the mailroom.

However, a report by officials to Holyrood’s cross-party management group, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), recommended the switch to digital greetings next year.

It said: “For Christmas 2015, we would like to 
investigate designs in a digital format, which might be a popular option in the context of the SPCB’s stance on environmental matters.”

Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie welcomed the move. He said: “Many constituents still like to receive a card from their MSP, but the parliament is right to highlight the environmental and cost benefits from sending digital cards.”

And he said he planned to act this Christmas. He said: “Given the cost involved in printing the cards, what I intend to do is send a digital card to those whose e-mails I have and make a donation to a local charity instead of spending the money on cards.”

Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone said at a time when budgets were under pressure as never before it was important for the parliament to do all it could to save taxpayers’ money.

She said: “I welcome this investigation of the option of digital cards.

“But I think there will always be a place for sending cards themselves – so long as we do it as sustainably as possible, making sure they come from well-managed forests.”

Ms Johnstone said she did not send many cards. “If I was sending them from the parliament I would go for the e-card option because taxpayers would be footing the postage costs.

“But sending cards as an individual, sometimes you can’t beat a handwritten card through the post for a personal touch.

“And there’s also the issue of what impact it would have on the Royal Mail if everyone sent e-cards. There is more to this issue than you might think and we have to consider all angles.”