Duncan's blog

January 23, 2009

MSPs’ expenses

There was a shameful attempt recently by the Government to try and cover up the detail of MPs’ expenses, which thankfully never happened. Coincidentally, today the Scottish Parliament published MSPs’ expenses.

The Scottish Parliament website has a pretty awful search interface to get details of all expenses claimed. Despite being a bad form, it does allow you to select from the various categories for Expenditure Type. One of the categories is "Website Costs". Here’s the figures for which MSPs claimed how much for their website, in the 2007-2008 financial year.

MSP Website Costs
Charlie Gordon £12822.62
John Wilson £2291.25
Joe Fitzpatrick £1500
Tavish Scott £1315.50
George Foulkes £1011.50
Wendy Alexander £987.37
Karen Gillon £940
Pauline Mcneill £918
Claire Baker £841.38
Kenny Macaskill £556.38
Margaret Smith £544.84
Malcolm Chisholm £497.57
Alex Fergusson £429.07
Kenneth Macintosh £423
Bob Doris £390
Jamie Hepburn £360
Bashir Ahmad £350
Michael Mcmahon £303.55
Keith Brown £300
Lewis Macdonald £293.75
Michael Matheson £273.69
Fergus Ewing £252.64
Mike Pringle £223.33
Jack Mcconnell £211.32
Robert Brown £200
Sandra White £200
Bill Wilson £200
Alex Neil £190
Duncan Mcneil £137.21
Karen Whitefield £117.50
Tom Mccabe £99.97
John Swinney £98.86
Murdo Fraser £76.38
Ted Brocklebank £47
Derek Brownlee £31.75
Stuart Mcmillan £24.20

Sometimes it’s easier to understand things visually. Here’s a graph of just the top twenty names from the list above:

MSPs website costs

The most obvious thing you’ll notice is that Charlie Gordon (Labour) is paying over £10,000 more than the next highest for his website. The site’s not too bad, about what you might expect from a typical MP or MSP’s site; a little bit of Flash used for navigation, reasonable design, plenty of content. But is it worth paying more than £1000 a month for? I’m not so sure… however, the plot thickens.

Using the Scottish Parliament site, it is possible to see exactly what each individual expense is made out to. As has been reported today in The Herald and the Evening Times, Charlie Gordon hasn’t just been paying over the odds for his website; he’s been paying it to his son’s company!

He’s since added a statement to his news page, claiming "My website costs for 2007/08 were around £1,700; not £12,900 as stated erroneously on the Scottish Parliament’s website!" Of course, it must be the Parliament that’s made a mistake. I look forward to finding out how they were mistaken to the tune of £11,000!

Interestingly, only 36 out of 129 MSPs claimed expenses under the Website Costs category. Either the other 93 don’t have websites, or have them paid for by their party, or are claiming the expenses in a different category, or aren’t claiming the expenses for the website.

I expect some other interesting figures might be found from the MSPs’ expenses. It would be great if they could setup a proper API to query that data, so the likes of They Work For You could use the information. The same applies to when the MPs’ expenses finally get published.



  1. […] Duncan has taken a deeper look at the expense figures, which he has obtained using the Scottish Parliament’s MSP Allowances search facility. The graph he has produced shows just how large the claim is compared to others. […]

    Pingback by How much should an MSP’s website cost? - Scotweb2 — January 23, 2009 @ 11:13 pm | Reply

  2. […] of spending money, Duncan Canning notes that Charlie Gordon MSP has managed to spend a five-figure sum on his website. Duncan Stephen […]

    Pingback by A new President, an old Poet and a Big Beast - Scottish Roundup — January 25, 2009 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

  3. […] expenses, ico, information commissioner, msp, scottish parliament After looking at how MSPs were claiming expenses for their websites, I decided to see if there were any other interesting facts to be gleamed from the MSP Allowances […]

    Pingback by MSPs’ expense claims: Data Protection Registrar « Duncan’s blog — January 30, 2009 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  4. It’s interesting that MPs’ websites must carry a clear notice stating that they are publicly funded, but no such rule exists for MSP websites.

    Comment by Heather — February 2, 2009 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

  5. […] this is never going to be as exciting as recent revelations about MPs’ expenses, or even MSPs’ expenses, it is maybe still worth analysing a bit. If you download the Excel file of expenses, you’ll […]

    Pingback by Fife Council publishes councillors’ expenses « Duncan’s blog — June 3, 2009 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

  6. Some weeks ago I wrote about my difficulty in getting Fife Council to supply me with information they were holding on file about my wife and I.
    You emailed me information about a department within Fife Council that deal with the Data Protection Laws. Thank you for your assistance. Last Thursday I finally received the requested information, It took 107 days but thank to your assistance I got there.
    Our local councillor M. Whitehead who we asked for assistance and who failed us so miserably is back from holiday and has emailed me to see how I have got on. (she spelled our name wrong)I have not bothered to reply to her as she does not inspire any confidence in me.
    Thanks again Duncan keep up the good work.
    Regards Edwin Dinsdale

    Comment by Mr. Edwin Dinsdale — July 20, 2009 @ 8:58 am | Reply

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