A Scottish MP has claimed the third highest amount of UK expenses in 2020-21, totalling more than a quarter of a million pounds.

Data, revealed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), show SNP Chief Whip and Midlothian MP Owen Thomson had total expenses of £264,347 for the financial year. 

He claimed the third highest amount of expenses, mainly for office and staffing costs as well as travel and accomodation, behind Tory MPs Darren Henry and Damien Moore.

Mr Henry had expenses totalling £280,936, while Mr Moore had expenses of £266,092. 

READ MORE: What did your MP claim in expenses? See the full Scottish list here

Mr Thompson’s claim was mainly made to cover his staff and office costs, as well as accomodation and travel between his constituenct and Westminster.

As the MP is the chief whip for the SNP, he held proxy voting powers for the rest of the SNP group during the pandemic and had to travel to London to cast votes on behalf of his colleagues far more than the majority of other MPs.

When contacted about the claim, Mr Thompson said it was important to stress that the money was not being paid to him personally.

He said: "It's important to note these business costs don't benefit me personally.

"The travel costs reflect my role as a Whip which meant I had to be physically down in London more regularly during lockdown, covering business and votes while the majority of MPs worked remotely from home.

"I also made sure I had a full staff complement in my Midlothian office to tackle the increased casework that the pandemic created."

On staffing costs, the MP said: "I think it's right to offer staff a real living wage that reflects the soaring cost of living - something I encourage every employer to do.

"I also chose to provide paid internships to create employment opportunities for young people during the pandemic, and an extra pair of hands to help with cases and support constituents during difficult times.

"My parliamentary record demonstrates my high work rate on behalf of the people of Midlothian. I am regularly amongst the highest ranking MPs in terms of parliamentary questions asked and debates attended and I hope that tells its own story."

 

HeraldScotland: Mr Thompson has claimed the third highest amount of Commons expensesMr Thompson has claimed the third highest amount of Commons expenses

IPSA is an independent body that regulates and administers the business costs and decides the pay and pensions of the 650 elected MPs and their staff in the UK.

Each year the body publishes information about every MPs’ spending in a bid for transparency.

The data released by IPSA shows the majority of the expenses claimed came under ‘subtotal of office running costs’.

Also in the top ten MPs with the highest Commons expenses were Birmingham, Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood whose expenses totalled £259,888, Bury North MP James Daly (£256,855), MP for Bassetlaw, Brendan Clarke-Smith (£256,254.94), West Dorset’s MP Chris Loder (£254,533), Hemsworth’s Jon Trickett MP (£254,533), and Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey (£253,715).

An SNP spokesperson said: "Scotland's MPs usually have higher costs in fulfilling their parliamentary duties because of the large distance they are required to travel from their constituencies to the UK Parliament. This is particularly true for Parliamentary Whips, who need to be at Westminster more than other MPs.
"In order to fulfil their duties to constituents, MPs need effective constituency offices with the staff, facilities and resources required to provide support. Owen Thompson MP is proud that his hard-working staff help thousands of constituents with casework and representation each year."