• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Minister's trip to a Latvian dance festival is criticised

The Scottish Government has spent almost £219,000 on overseas trips for ministers and their officials in the last three years, figures show.

In 2012-13, the last full year for which figures are available, the bill for overseas visits amounted to £99,595.24.

Between April and December last year, a further £53,418.63 was spent, while the total for 2011-12 was £65,912.08 - amounting to £218,925.95 since 2011.

Tory chief whip John Lamont said the Scottish Government had been "secretive" about the spending, and had only published all the details after action from the Information Commissioner.

A visit that Health Secretary Alex Neil and an official made to Boston, Ohio and Washington in the US last December to sign a memorandum of understanding and to learn from the American healthcare system cost £9,055.55.

A trip by First Minister Alex Salmond and three officials to the US last April cost £4,998.88, while Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland made two trips to America to mark the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing.

His trip to Syracuse University in New York last October cost £3,424.79 then in December he went to Washington, with the bill for that trip amounting to £2,119.00. On both occasions Mr Mulholland was accompanied by three officials.

But Mr Lamont said some of the visits - such as a trip by External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf in July 2013 to Latvia for a song and dance festival at a cost of £720.44 - would leave the public "scratching their head".

The Conservative MSP said: "Why, for instance, when the Scottish Government doesn't have responsibility for external affairs, are dedicated ministers going to dance festivals and cultural visits?"

A spokesman for John Swinney said: "This is the height of hypocrisy from a Tory party which at Westminster, thinks nothing of spending £13 million in a single year on flights and hotels for just one department, the Foreign Office."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.