Scottish Daily Mail

Parliament costs hit a record high

Scots now footing a bill of nearly £100m a year

- By Michael Blackley Scottish Political Editor

THE cost of Scotland’s parliament has rocketed to a record high, with the taxpayer billed almost £100million a year.

The price of maintainin­g Holyrood and paying all MSPs and staff has soared by 6.7 per cent in the past year, a report has revealed.

Total spend in 2016-17 was £95.6million, compared with £89.6million the previous year.

The parliament building was three years late and more than 40 times over budget when it finally opened in 2004.

Gordon Lindhurst, Scottish Tory MSP for the Lothians, said: ‘It’s concerning to see the costs of running the parliament still increasing, and the general public will understand­ably want answers as to why this is happening. This is taxpayers’ money... we have a duty to ensure that these costs are kept under control.’

According to the Scottish parliament’s annual accounts, in 2016-17 the biggest individual cost was staff salaries, which fell to £25.60million from £25.65million in 2015-16.

But parliament­ary expenses rocketed by 24 per cent, from £12.7million to £15.8million, while MSP and other officehold­ers’ salaries rose from £11.4million to £14million.

This was largely because of £2.1million of ‘resettleme­nt’ costs paid to those who lost seats in the 2016 election.

Annual running costs of the parliament building, including maintenanc­e, soared from £7.8million to £8.3million. Some £2.2million went on capital projects, up from £1.2million the previous year – including £1.75million on upgrading lights in the main chamber, working out at £357 per bulb.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It was bad enough that the constructi­on of the parliament building itself went horrendous­ly over budget, now we find the running costs are also running out of control.

‘Far from attempting to further meddle in the lives of Scottish taxpayers and their incomes, MSPs should ensure parliament gets a grip on its running costs.’

The annual accounts show that the total remunerati­on package of Scottish parliament chief executive Paul Grice cost between £195,000 and £200,000 last year, up from £165,000 to £170,000 the previous year.

Seven members of the senior management team earned sixfigure packages when pension benefits are included.

In the accounts document, Mr Grice states that the remainder of this session will bring ‘unpreceden­ted challenges’, adding: ‘The main challenge for the corporate body will be in supporting members in carrying out their full range of parliament­ary duties and meeting anticipate­d demands from further constituti­onal change and parliament­ary reform.’

The Scottish parliament said increased costs were due to an increase in the amount MSPs can spend on staff – from £62,300 to £85,000 – and postelecti­on ‘resettleme­nt costs’.

‘MSPs should get a grip’

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