Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 26 September 2007

'Halls of Residence' for MSPs?

When I first read this article I did a double-take, but on reflection I don't think it can be dismissed as a completely ridiculous idea. No doubt they would have to be somewhat more spacious than the average room destined for occupancy by a university student. However, a sort of 'apartotel' with each unit having a bedroom, living-room, small kitchen and bathroom would I am certain work out a lot less expensive in the long run; they would probably be furnished in the same way that a mid-price hotel chain might furnish a suite and have a maid service, just like an hotel. MSPs, or at least those whose constituencies are not in Edinburgh itself or within easy commuting distance of the city would be guaranteed a unit; the numbers of constituencies to be provided for could easily be decided by a committee set up to look at travelling times and costs of getting from a constituency to Holyrood; those not on the provided-for list would be expected to meet their own accommodation requirements in and around Edinburgh, just as they did before becoming MSPs. Probably travel allowances would have to remain more or less as they are to allow MSP's to get back to their constituencies most weeks to handle constituency matters. There would therefore be no need for any kind of mortgage/housing allowance, simply allowances to cover accommodation in the 'MSP Hall of Residence', but not elsewhere. It could be made quite attractive to live in, I'm sure, and no doubt there would be a concierge service and common areas for meetings (a cafe and/or breakfast room and a few lounges/meeting-rooms of varying sizes, possibly bookable, for meetings). I am not a supporter of the Green Party, but it seems at the very least an idea that is worth looking at a little more closely. Quite apart from anything else it would stop all the bickering about the personal advantage some MSPs are said to have taken of the current system. It would also relieve MSPs from outwith Edinburgh of the hassle and anxiety of finding accommodation near Holyrood in the days and weeks after being elected. If people wanted to purchase accommodation in Edinburgh then it would be a purely private matter for them and not financed in any way by taxpayers.


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