Call for more clarity on Government's ‘significant’ Scottish election reforms

The Bill would let foreign nationals on time-limited visas to stand in elections and allow for the rescheduling of Holyrood elections.

MSPs call for more clarity on Scottish Government’s election reform bill Scottish Parliament

MSPs are calling on the Scottish Government to provide more clarity on its Bill to reform Scotland’s parliamentary and local elections.

The Scottish Elections (Representation and Reform) Bill would allow for the rescheduling of an election in the event of an emergency.

It would also allow foreign nationals with time-limited visas the right to stand in an election while banning those who have committed an offence involving the intimidation of election staff or people standing for election.

If passed, the bill would implement several changes to the campaign rules around ballots to “improve fairness, transparency, and controls against foreign spending”.

Holyrood’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee welcomed the bill but in a report said ministers must provide clarity on some of its measures and how they will be implemented.

The Scottish Elections (Representation and Reform) Bill would make a number of changes to the voting system in Scotland.iStock

Martin Whitfield, committee convener and Scottish Labour MSP, said: “The Bill makes important changes to how Scottish elections will be run and anything which aims to make our democracy more transparent and diverse is of course to be welcomed. 

“But during our evidence, we heard some concerns about how the Bill would operate in practice, as well as the need for clarity about how measures would be monitored or indeed introduced.

“We are now asking the Scottish Government to provide more information to make it clear to all stakeholders how these changes will operate in practice.” 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “A robust electoral system is fundamental to the success of Scotland being an inclusive and vibrant democracy.

“The Scottish Government welcomes the Committee’s consideration and support for the Bill, and we will examine the recommendations closely.”

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