QUESTIONS are being asked over the continuing cost of the Scottish Parliament’s stationery bill after it emerged £100,000 per year will be spent on personalised headed letters, business cards and printing.
MSPs and parliament officials managed to slash the bill from £155,000 per year to £100,000 with the help of new communication devices and by competitive tendering.
However, although members welcomed the reduction, they insisted taxpayers must get value for money.
Lothians MSP David McLetchie, the Tory chief whip, said: “I’m pleased that some cost reductions have been made.
“But clearly in these straitening times we have to look at reducing costs on stationery items of all types, whilst still enabling members to communicate effectively with constituents.”
Meanwhile, Lothians MSP Neil Findlay, who was elected to parliament for Labour in May, said: “What I would say is that I am receiving a large volume of correspondence on many issues and constituents rightly expect their cases to be dealt with and that they receive a letter or emailed response – unfortunately this costs money.
“However, when money is tight for everyone we have to be careful with what is being spent.”
The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body re-issued the contract to an Edinburgh stationery firm yesterday.
The previous seven-year contract, which included stationery also printed in Gaelic, cost just over £1 million.
Lothians MSP Margo McDonald, an independent, welcomed the fact that new technology can be used to cut costs.
She said: “We have been very careful to keep our stationery costs down.
“One of the reasons why I think there’s been a reduction is that people are using their BlackBerrys and other gadgets to communicate.”
Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone, who was recently elected for the Greens, added: “The Parliament has historically had a pretty substantial stationery bill, so it’s clearly good news that officials have been able to cut the bill like this.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament said: “We re- tendered this contract in August and have managed to reduce the annual cost of by more than £50,000 a year, which is a significant saving to the public purse.”