MSPs could be removed from office by constituents through law change

Proposals to change the law are being brought forward in the wake of the resignation of Derek Mackay.

MSPs could be removed from office by constituents through law change in wake of Derek Mackay scandal Getty Images

Proposals to introduce new measures to enable MSPs to be removed from office are to be debated at the Scottish Parliament.

The MSP Recall Bill has been introduced by the Scottish Conservatives in the wake of the Derek Mackay scandal.

Mackay resigned as finance secretary in February 2020 after it was revealed he sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy.

However, he remained as an MSP until the Holyrood election in May 2021.

He was criticised for continuing to claim expenses after his resignation from the Cabinet.

The legislation being brought forward by the Conservatives would seek to introduce new measures for the dismissal of MSPs who fail to take part in parliamentary proceedings for more than six months without a valid reason.

Currently, there is no mechanism for constituents to remove an MSP even if they fail to carry out their parliamentary duties.

The Bill also includes proposals for MSPs to be automatically removed if they receive a prison sentence, regardless of the length of that sentence.

It will now be debated by MSPs after gaining the support of 24 members from across parties.

Scottish Conservative MSP Graham Simpson described the Bill as “common-sense” as he urged members at Holyrood to back the proposals.

“I’m pleased that my MSP Recall Bill has come one step closer to becoming law after gaining cross-party support,” he said.

“As things stand, Scottish taxpayers still have to foot the bill for an MSP’s salary and expenses even if they fail to carry out their duties.

“This common-sense Bill will give the Scottish public the power to remove their representatives for wrongdoing.

“This mechanism exists for both MSPs to debate and I urge members of all parties to get behind these sensible and much-needed proposals.

“It is vital that we make this Bill law and ensure that Scottish taxpayers are never again left paying for an empty seat in Holyrood.”