Kenny MacAskill claims expenses for 1 mile trip

Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill'. Picture: Julie Bull
Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill'. Picture: Julie Bull
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Edinburgh Eastern MSP Kenny MacAskill is among those to have been revealed as having claimed expenses for commutes of just one mile.

The former justice secretary claimed 45p each way for the journey between his home and his constituency office, as did Labour backbencher Hanzala Malik, new documents show.

Among the bigger claimants were Angus South’s Graeme Dey, who claimed £252, and current Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, who clawed back £2079 for 30-mile journeys between his home and Falkirk office.

Westminster MPs cannot claim for journeys to work, but Holyrood MSPs are allowed to under the existing system and there is no suggestion any rules have been broken.

Finance Secretary and Perth and North Perthshire MSP John Swinney made a series of claims, while SNP colleague and North East Fife representative Rod Campbell was reimbursed for a number of his 43-mile journeys.

Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSPs Claire Baker, Jayne Baxter and Richard Simpson all got cash for relatively short hops, as did Conservatives Murdo Fraser and Liz Smith.

Guidance from Westminster’s Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority states: “We do not pay for commuting costs. This mirrors the circumstances of most citizens.”

But an SNP spokesman said no Holyrood rules had been broken: “MSPs work within strict rules set out by Parliament and are able to claim reimbursement of travel costs undertaken in support of their parliamentary duties on behalf of constituents.”

In total, 25 SNP, 10 Labour, eight Conservative, two Liberal Democrats and one independent MSP claimed expenses for commuting costs. The total cost is thought to be in excess of £15,000.

A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament said: “An independent review of MSPs expenses scheme recognised this is a legitimate cost to reimburse, and that members are taxed accordingly in line with HMRC’s rules.”

Ms Baker said: “Often when I am travelling to the local office it is not just the local office I am going to, I am going on to other constituency matters and it is a round trip claim.”

Dr Simpson said: “There are more serious stories than the scale of MSPs’ expenses. Any claim from home to office is treated as a taxable expense.”

Ms Smith said the rules were clear that anything which was “constituency business” could be claimed for.

Mr MacAskill could not be contacted for comment at the time of going to press.