A Facebook post comparing the cost of travel and accommodation expenses between Scottish Conservative and SNP MPs has been shared widely on Facebook. It is a screenshot of a tweet originally published in July 2018 and is similar to a tweet published later that same day by the Campbeltown and Kintyre SNP branch.
The tweet claims:
“The SNP Has 35 MPs in Westminster, their total travel and accommodation costs for the last 12 months is £79,852. The Scottish Conservatives have 13 MPs in Westminster, their total travel and accommodation costs are £250,427.”
Given the numbers of MPs in the claim and the date of the tweet, the year being referred to is presumably 2017/18. Looking at the parliamentary expenses figures for that year, the amounts quoted in the tweet are wildly inaccurate.
Most MPs can claim expenses for rent on a second residence or hotel costs in London if their constituency is outside London. They may also claim for travel costs, either their own or others’, “which are in support of the MP’s parliamentary functions”. For example, MPs whose constituencies are outside London are allowed to claim for the cost of travelling between their constituency and Westminster.
In 2017/18 the total travel and accommodation costs for the 35 SNP MPs came to £1.3 million, or £37,000 on average per MP.
In the same year the total travel and accommodation costs for the 13 Conservative MPs from Scotland came to around £389,000, or just under £30,000 on average per MP.
We cannot see any reasonable way in which the tweet could have come up with its figures.
Even just accounting for the expenses an MP claims in rent (so not including any additional accommodation costs like utility bills) and the personal travel expenses of the MP (rather than of the MP, plus their staff and any dependents) the numbers in the claim are still incorrect.
SNP MPs’ rental expenses and personal travel expenses totalled just over £1 million in 2017/18, or around £29,000 per MP.
Scottish Conservative MPs rental expenses and personal travel expenses totalled around £291,000, or £22,000 per MP.
Total parliamentary expenses (beyond just travel and accommodation, also including things like offices costs) for SNP MPs in 2017/18 came to just over £7 million, or £201,000 on average per MP.
Total expenses for Scottish Conservative MPs were just over £1.9 million, or £148,000 on average per MP.