Politics

Anas Sarwar vows to ‘clean-up’ Holyrood with public given right to recall MSPs

Anas Sarwar has vowed to clean up Holyrood by establishing a commission to look at ways the Scottish Parliament could be improved to win back public trust.

The Scottish Labour leader said faith in the parliament had been shaken by the botched handling of complaints made against Alex Salmond and subsequent inquiries.

Among the bold proposals Sarwar wants the next Scottish Government to consider is offering the public the right to recall MSPs in exceptional circumstances, similar to legislation introduced at Westminster in recent years.

Under current rules MSPs are under no obligation to quit even if they are called on to do so by their own parties – such as in the case of Mark McDonald, the now ex-member for Aberdeen Donside.

Shamed ex-finance secretary Derek Mackay was also allowed to continue collecting his MSP’s salary until this month despite resigning as an SNP minister in February 2020 and not being seen at Holyrood since.

Other bold proposals from Sarwar nclude the establishment of an independent ethics commission to oversee the Scottish Government and introducing parliamentary privilege at Holyrood to give MSPs raising issues the same protection as MPs at Westminster.

Sarwar said: “We are rightly proud of our role in establishing a devolved parliament, but we have to accept that trust and faith in parliament has been lost in recent years.

“We need to rebuild that because only when people believe that Holyrood works for them will we be able to unite Scotland.

“We cannot allow the circus that has defined the start of this campaign or the institutional failures that defined the Salmond Inquiry to run over into the Parliament of the next five years.

“The pandemic doesn’t end when lockdown ends – and Scotland’s recovery requires a government focused on solutions – and MSPs who have the tools to make sure they are getting it right.

“Scotland deserves so much better than a parliament where egos, agenda and grudges are allowed to run rampant.

“And that is what is at stake in this election – we have a choice to put people, their families and our national recovery first.

“The pandemic has changed Scotland – it’s time to ditch the old politics of division and focus instead on working together on the things we can do.”

The Scottish Labour has previously called for the dual role of Scotland’s top law officer to be split up.

Currently, the Lord Advocate is both head of the country’s prosecution service as well as being the Scottish Government’s chief legal advisor.

In England and Wales, there is an Attorney General who gives legal advice to the UK Government and as well as a director of public prosecutions.

The role of the Lord Advocate became the centre of a political row in February after the Crown Office raised grave concerns about the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body’s decision to publish Alex Salmond’s submission on whether his successor Nicola Sturgeon had breached the ministerial code.

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