By RYAN TAYLOR
It may come as no surprise to either his party or his constituents, but MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael has come under the glare of the national media for his high travel costs.
During the last financial year Mr Carmichael claimed £40,841 in travelling expenses, the highest among Westminster MPs.
The figure has been published in both The Daily Mail and The Guardian and follows an ongoing campaign by The Daily Telegraph revealing how much many of the country’s MPs claim for on their expenses forms.
A breakdown of the total shows Mr Carmichael claimed £31,724 on travel, including £26,051 on air fares, £1,680 on mileage, £3,155 for train travel and over £500 travelling to Europe.
He also claimed £2,740 for member’s spouse travel, £2,979 for member’s family travel and £3,398 for staff travel.
Mr Carmichael said he was bound to have the highest travel costs, because he has a further distance to travel than all other members at Westminster from his constituency.
“It will surprise few people in Shetland that the MP for Orkney and Shetland should have the highest travel costs,” he said.
“Local people expect me to be in the House of Commons to put the case for local people, communities and businesses. They also rightly expect to see me in the isles, so that I can stay in touch with local views and events. Money spent on travel is an essential part of doing my job.
“Local people will also understand that the cost of travel goes to airline and ferry companies, it certainly doesn’t go into my own pocket.”
Last week Mr Carmichael was forced to defend himself against newspaper reports he was among a number of Scottish MPs who claimed the maximum second homes allowance at just over £23,000.
He said he used the allowance to fund second homes in both Shetland and London, because his main home is in Orkney.