Falkirk MSP's island ferry trips called into question

Angus MacDonald has come in for criticism from some of his Falkirk East constituents for claiming expenses for two ferry excursions to Scottish islands.

By James Trimble
Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 4:40 pm

The list of MSP expenses claims for the financial year 2019 to 2020 has been published and a number of people have been critical of the amount he has been claiming.

Mr MacDonald, who announced he is not standing for re-election in 2021, had expense claims for the period April 2019 to March 2020 that totalled £31,612.57.

He said they were all within the rules, and hotel stays were more cost effective and permitted due to the long hours at Holyrood.

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Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald claimed £31,612.57 in expenses in the last financial year

From April 2019 to March 2020, Mr MacDonald claimed for £11,511 for Edinburgh accommodation provision.

His SNP colleague Falkirk MSP Michael Matheson claimed total expenses of £19,889.71 over the same period, including £104 on Edinburgh accommodation provision.

His travel expenses – which totalled £3085.67 – also came in for criticism, specifically his claims for ferry trips from Tarbet to Uig on September 28 and Stornoway to Ullapool on October 10 last year which totalled £100.10.

Mr Matheson, who is the Scottish cabinet secretary for transport, claimed £1773.20.

In office cost provision, Mr MacDonald claimed £12,965.51, which included £968.32 for newspaper subscriptions

Mr Matheson claimed £16,072.01 in office cost provision, with £48.90 on newspaper subscriptions.

Mr MacDonald responded today, stating: “With regard to my hotel expenses, there has been a significant reduction on my claims compared to last year. The costs are incurred due to early morning committee starts and attending evening meetings.

“Prior to coronavirus lockdown, 12-13 hour shifts were commonplace when Parliament was sitting. It was easier, more cost effective and less stressful to stay over in Edinburgh rather than return home at 10:00pm and leave again at 6:00am. The facility is provided for MSPs who do not qualify for rented accommodation due to their proximity to Parliament.

“To allow research for my committee work I subscribe to niche publications like the Fishing News which have low circulation rates, and as a result can be quite costly.

“My constituency and Parliamentary offices subscribe to weekly publications, including the Falkirk Herald and the Bo’ness Journal.

“Ferry fares are claimed when travelling from my second home direct to Holyrood to attend meetings. All my expenses claims are within the rules.”

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