By Kirsty Topping
AN MSP has sparked fury after spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on hotel stays in Edinburgh – despite owning a property empire in the city.
Jim Hume spent 13,000 on hotel accommodation, even though he has five flats in the capital.
The Lib Dem, who is paid 75,000 a year in his roles as MSP for the south of Scotland and as a councillor in Galashiels, even owns a flat on the city’s Royal Mile – just a stone’s throw from the Scottish Parliament.
Hume also owns a further two flats outside the city.
The properties, which are owned jointly with his wife Lynne, are thought to be worth 1.25 million and could generate a further 70,000 per year in rental income.
Although Mr Hume has not broken any rules critics argued that is was morally wrong that he was able to claim expenses for hotel stays when he owned property nearby.
They said the rules are to allow MSPs whose constituency homes are too far away from parliament to allow them to commute and who cannot afford a second home in the city to stay near Holyrood.
John O’Connell of the Tax payers Alliance said:
“Taxpayers will be furious if MSPs with property portfolios go on claiming for accommodation costs. It’s crucial that parliamentarians respect the trust hard-working families have put in them to fight for their local interests and are not seen to be in it simply for the cash. “
The revelation came in the newly-published register of MSPs interests, which showed Mr Hume owned several properties, not including his family home, a farmhoust thought to be worth 1.25 million.
Records from the parliament also show that Mr Hume regularly claims 100 a night for his hotel stays in Edinburgh.
Mr Hume remained unrepentant. A spokesman said:
“The flats have people living in them and have had since the 1990s. Jim can’t chuck them out for a couple of dozen nights a year when he has to work late. “
Mr Hume is not the only MSP sitting on a property portfolio. Twenty three other politicians are landlords for properties worth an estimated 9 million in total.
Midlothian North and Mussleburgh MSP Colin Beattie owns two Edinburgh properties worth upwards of 400,000 , as well as a half share in a commercial property in Angus, worth almost half a million pounds.
Jean Urquhart, Nationalist list MSP for the Highlands and Islands, owns a flat in Edinburgh in addition to commercial property in Ullapool worth up to 800,000.
Cowdenbeath MSP Helen Eadie also owns a flat in Edinburgh, worth 250,000, as well as a house in Bulgaria and some commercial property.
Gil Paterson, the Nationalist MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie has shares in commercial properties worth a combined 850,000 and a share in a French apartment, valued at 350,000.
Conservative list MSP for the Highlands and Islands Jamie McGreigor owns a farmhouse worth 200,000 and a London flat worth 500,000.
Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson owns property and land in Ayrshire worth half a million pounds, in addition to a flat in Pitlochry worth 250,000.