CREDIT card spending by civil servants makes “uncomfortable reading” but a review of rules is the “right” thing to do, a senior Scottish Government minister has said.

On Tuesday, Scottish Labour published data revealing senior government officials had made almost 60,000 transactions over a three-year period, totaling £14.2 million.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said following the revelations that he would ask permanent secretary John Paul Marks to conduct a review into the spending.

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Scotland’s top civil servant will be tasked with making sure the procedures are “robust” after the FM admitted some of the spending appeared questionable.

It emerged that senior staff made purchases which included nail polish, yoga classes, a staff member's driving theory test, as well as China crockery for a meeting room and a £27 "homedisco" from eBay.

And, on Wednesday, further details emerged revealing that bowling and pottery lessons were included in “away days” for civil servants.

This included a £375 bill to Brewhemia pub in Edinburgh in September and trips to bowling alleys.

The National: Neil Gray admitted the spending made 'uncomfortable reading'Neil Gray admitted the spending made 'uncomfortable reading' (Image: PA)

The transaction logs also include trips to escape rooms and crazy golf venues for staff, while £1693 was spent on an “away day discussion” at the Seamill Hydro hotel in Ayrshire in 2022.

Part of Edinburgh Zoo was also hired out by staff, costing taxpayers £2000, while further activities in 2019 include purchases of ping pong balls, chocolate mice, play dough and paper planes.

Addressing the spending on Good Morning Scotland on Wednesday, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said the First Minister was right to order a review into the spending.

He said: “Obviously the reports, some of them, make for uncomfortable reading and the First Minister has instituted the review from the most senior civil servant in Scotland – the permanent secretary – to ensure that the use of credit cards by senior civil servants is appropriate and continues to have the stringent checks and balances in place to ensure that there is good value brought for public money.

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“The use of credit cards by senior civil servants obviously is used by many other governments and with releases of other information by the governments at other times, including the Welsh Government, more recently.

“Obviously there becomes greater public scrutiny and questions as to sometimes its appropriateness.

“So I think it is right that the First Minister has asked the Permanent Secretary to ensure that the processes that are in place are robust and to ensure public spending continues to be fair and balanced going forward.”

Speaking to comedian Matt Forde during an Edinburgh Fringe show on Tuesday, the FM (pictured below) said: “It’s fair to ask the questions that people are asking about. Was this item spent? Why was it spent? Why was it bought by the civil service?

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“I will ask the permanent secretary to just review, ‘do we have the right procedures in place when it comes to spend’.”

He added: “I noticed one of the headlines around security through airports and so on, which again is fair for people to ask a question.

“We absolutely have to be mindful of every penny and every pound that we spend, but we’ve also got to be mindful of people’s security.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Spending through electronic purchasing cards is used to support government officials during their usual course of work such as on training, catering, room hire and one-off supplies.

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“The cards are not for personal expenditure and there are robust authorisation and regular auditing arrangements in place to monitor their use.”

The data revealed spending on VIP airport services for former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, yoga classes, nail polish and other items including a number of books.

The vast majority of items, however, included everyday purchases for civil servants working from home during the Covid-19 lockdown, including computer monitors.