So who would claim a £1 donation on expenses?

A POLITICIAN has had an expense claim rejected by the Scottish Parliament – after trying to claw back a £1 charity donation.

Bill Butler, the Labour MSP for Glasgow Anniesland and a former candidate for deputy leader, listed the 1 claim as a "carer fund donation".

It was just one of 1000 worth of claims from MSPs rejected since May 2007 by the Scottish Parliament authorities.

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According to Mr Butler, the claim was an oversight. He said: "This was an item on a hotel bill, which was put there without my knowledge and as soon as it was drawn to my attention, it (the claim] was withdrawn."

It is standard practice for hotels to ask customers in advance if they wish to take part in charity donations scheme.

However, a spokesman for Mr Butler said last night that the MSP was not asked by the hotel if he wanted to donate to charity.

The spokesman was unable to provide details of where and when the incident occurred other than it was at "a hotel in Scotland at some point during the last financial year".

The list of rejected claims included attempts to claw back money for Christmas cards, plants and satellite navigation kits. Another senior Labour MSP, Malcolm Chisholm, tried and failed to get 3 back for a charge on a pay-as-you-go smart card.

He said: "I must have paid for something with a card and claimed the transaction cost as well as the substance of the purchase. If I had paid for it with cash, it wouldn't have arisen."

The largest recorded rejected claim was from David Whitton, Labour's finance spokesman, who wanted 290 in expenses for printing Christmas cards.

Even Alex Fergusson, the Presiding Officer, has been rebuffed, attempting to recover the 132.78 cost of a "congratulatory advert" for a constituency charity for disadvantaged children.

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Jim Mather, the enterprise minister, tried to claim an undisclosed amount for breakdown recovery. His bids to get 28.91 back for Christmas cards and 9.05 for freight costs were also thrown out. The SNP's Michael Matheson wanted 44.45 for plants and plant pots for an office, while the SNP's Stuart McMillan was also refused 225.60 for a Christmas advert.

An unnamed MSP tried to claim back money for a sat-nav device.

Critics say the claims are just more evidence of politicians attempting to have their lives subsidised by taxpayers. The issue has echoes of Westminster's "John Lewis list", whereby MPs were able to claim for kitchens and TVs. But some MSPs point out that, in Scotland, these minor claims were rejected whereas the John Lewis list was paid for by taxpayers.

Mark Wallace, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "It's amazing that after all the controversy in recent months, some politicians still seem to be trying to get away with claiming for such spurious items. Taxpayers are struggling in the recession, so it's right all these items were rejected."

Pints of milk, taxi fares, offices – all worth a try

MSPs have been no strangers to controversy over expenses in the ten years since the Scottish Parliament was reconvened.

The most high-profile resignation was that of the former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish.

He quit in 2001 after it emerged he had sub-let part of his Westminster office, which was subsidised by taxpayers, while still an MP.

A failure to declare leadership campaign expenses also ultimately led to the resignation of a more recent Labour leader, Wendy Alexander.

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The former Liberal Democrat MSP Keith Raffan ran into trouble when he claimed more than 40,000 for travelling expenses. He resigned as an MSP in 2004, citing health reasons, although many believed it was because of the furore over the claim.

David McLetchie resigned as Tory leader in Holyrood over expenses claims relating to taxi fares.

Former Conservative MSP Brian Monteith, who tried to use the taxi claim issue to bring down Mr McLetchie, also had to pay back 250 worth of taxi claims he should not have made.

Some have got away with strange claims. In 2007 Lib Dem MSP Jamie Stone was able to get 42p back for a pint of milk.

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