LOTHIAN MSPs cost taxpayers more than £1.75 million in expenses and staffing costs last year.
A breakdown of official figures published by the Scottish Parliament showed Liberal Democrat Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton topped the table with the biggest claim, for £116,269, with SNP Edinburgh Northern & Leith MSP Ben Macpherson in second place on £110,129, closely followed by Labour’s Daniel Johnson, MSP for Edinburgh Southern, on £110,128.
The least expensive MSP was Tory Gordon Lindhurst, whose claims totalled £78,909.36. The area’s two Green MSPs, Andy Wightman and Alison Johnstone, had the next lowest claims.
The figures included three separate elements - day-to-day expenses; stationery and postage; and staff costs.
Together, the 18 MSPs representing Edinburgh or Lothian constituencies or elected on the Lothian list claimed a total of £1,757,190.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said his place at the top of the expenses league table was down to having to move his constituency office from premises in St John’s Road, Corstorphine, which have been earmarked for demolition to another property further up the same road and converting it from a shop to an office.
He said: “It’s embarrassing to have the biggest claim in Lothian, but it’s caused by the fact we moved offices, which meant renovating former retail premises.
“That’s a one-off cost which was sanctioned by the parliament authorities and which will be spread over two years. My expenses will then return to normal.”
And he pointed out he never claimed for travel costs although he was entitled to. “I could claim for every journey I make from home to the parliament, but many of my constituents travel into the city centre to work and they don’t get to claim for it, so why should I?”
The day-to-day expenses claimed by the 18 Edinburgh and Lothian MSPs - for items such as office costs, surgery advertising, travel and accommodation, totalled £241,196 compared with £213,976 the previous year - an increase of more than 12 per cent.
But the parliament said the total expenses, including staff costs, for MSPs as a whole had increased by less than inflation
The total for 2017/18 was a record £16,159,707, up by £327,611 or 2.07 per cent on 2016/17’s total.
A parliament spokesman said: “The cost of expenses incurred in carrying out parliamentary duties rose by less than the rate of inflation last year.”
On top of expenses and staffing costs, MSPs’ salary, pension and national insurance contributions of MSPs’ employees in 2017/18 totalled £12,340,039 - up from £12,107,575 in 2016/17.
Additional costs included £22,656 in childcare vouchers, £46.636 for security arrangements and centrally-organised training and a further £14,405 for MSPs’ own expenditure on security or disability provision.
How much does your MSP cost you? The full table:
Alex Cole-Hamilton Lib Dem Edinburgh Western £115,269.72
Ben Macpherson SNP Edinburgh Northern & Leith £110,129.84
Daniel Johnson Lab Edinburgh Southern £110,128.17
Fiona Hyslop SNP Linlithgow £106,284.80
Iain Gray Lab East Lothian £106,283.18
Gordon Macdonald SNP Edinburgh Pentlands £104,951.69
Neil Findlay Lab Lothian list £103,926.72
Colin Beattie SNP Midlothian North & Musselburgh £103,692.40
Ash Denham SNP Edinburgh Eastern £102,166.30
Angela Constance SNP Almond Valley £100,900.51
Christine Grahame SNP Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale £96,015.20
Kezia Dugdale Lab Lothian list £95,839.52
Miles Briggs Con Lothian list £89,275.01
Ruth Davidson Con Edinburgh Central £88,952.84
Jeremy Balfour Con Lothian list £84,854
Alison Johnstone Green Lothian list £80,652.29
Andy Wightman Green Lothian list £79,008.55
Gordon Lindhurst Con Lothian list £78,909.36
Includes day-to-day expenses; stationery and postage; and staff costs.