THE Tory MP for Borders constituency Berwick, Roxburgh and Selkirk has defended his expenses claim while working as an MSP – after receiving much higher sums than SNP counterparts.

John Lamont, who resigned as a Tory MSP in April to fight the UK General Election, said he was a “very active MSP” and all his expenses had been approved as legitimate.

Over the last five years, Lamont claimed £168,844 in total, while Christine Grahame, the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, claimed £98,830 and Paul Wheelhouse, a regional MSP for South Scotland, claimed £85,962.

Lamont’s successor at Holyrood, Tory Rachael Hamilton, claimed almost £14,000 in 10 months.

Lamont was first elected as an MSP in 2007 then became an MP in June after beating the SNP’s Calum Kerr.

In his last full year at Holyrood, he claimed total allowances of £34,217 while Grahame claimed £19,249 and Wheelhouse £16,169.

Lamont’s total is made up of 436 separate claims. Of these, 224 were for travel costing £6845; 35 were for stays in Edinburgh hotels at a total cost of £4111; 108 were for office provision, totalling £17,775; 16 were for surgery advertising at £2489; 37 for staff travel at £1627 and 14 for telecommunications at £1337.

Grahame’s expenses for the year consisted of 176 separate claims – 75 for office provision costing £16,458; 75 for travel at £972; nine for staff travel at £220; three for surgery advertising at £813 and 10 for telecommunications at £688.

Wheelhouse, the SNP Government’s Business, Innovation and Energy Minister, submitted 96 claims of which 30 were for accommodation in Edinburgh at £5933; 12 for travel at £375, 40 for office provision at £9246 and 13 for telecommunications at £555.

Lamont said: “All these expenses claims are for approved Parliamentary activity.

“I was a very active MSP and as a member of parliament I intend to continue to hold advice surgeries, meet with local businesses and organisations and help out as many constituents as possible.”