Lamont’s £33,000 expenses defended

JOHN Lamont has defended his position in the top 10 highest spending MSPs.

The Scottish Parliament member for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire claimed £32,667 in 2010/11, up from £30,969 for 2009/10.

The figure makes the Conservative the ninth biggest spender out of 129 MSPs. Mr Lamont’s largest outlay was £9,664 on travel.

He said his decision not to own a second home in the capital accounts for his high expenditure.

Mr Lamont said: “The vast majority of these expenses relate to the running of my constituency office in Hawick and my frequent travel around the Borders, and to and from Parliament.

“Many MSPs claim large sums of money for second homes in Edinburgh. I made the decision not to have a second home and to travel from my home in Coldstream.

“In addition to this, my constituency office is always very busy but I always respond to my constituents and their enquires.

“I believe it is my duty as an MSP to help those who ask for my assistance and running an office to deal with this will always cost money.”

Former Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale MSP, Jeremy Purvis, was not far behind in 14th spot on £29,239 for the financial year before he lost his seat, including £7,958 on accommodation in Edinburgh.

In total, £11.8m was claimed by MSPs in 2010-11, up £186,000 on the previous year.