More MSPs at Holyrood needed, committee hears

Highland MSP Dave Thompson wants to increase MSP as the number of Scotland's MPs comes down from 59 to 50. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Highland MSP Dave Thompson wants to increase MSP as the number of Scotland's MPs comes down from 59 to 50. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The number of MSPs at Holyrood should be increased to deal with the new powers coming to Scotland, a Nationalist politician has said.

Highland MSP Dave Thompson said this whould be a “very, very sensible” move and could be introduced when Scotland’s MPs come down, as expected, from 59 to 50.

It came as Holyrood’s standards committee took evidence from ex-ministers Mike Russell and Hugh Henry on the way Parliament operates

Mr Thompson said there is an issue with the number and size of committees.

“I think it is important that that be looked at,” he said.

“The issue of MSPs being stretched, that’s been a problem for some considerable time. It doesn’t help us to run this Parliament, it doesn’t help to have good debates, it doesn’t help us to run committees well.”

He added: “Although Mike (Russell) believes there’s no chance at all of more MSPs, I think it’s a nettle that this Parliament’s going to have to grasp and it would help us deal with committees, it would help us to deal with business.

“I think there will be an opportunity when the number of MPs reduces, when the bill is re-introduced as it will be, and we will go down to 50.

“I think a modest increase in the number of MSPs at that time, because of the reduction in MPs and also because of the new powers, would be a very, very sensible thing for us to do.”

But Mr Russell said the prospect of more MSPs is unlikely to find favour with the public.

“I think the likelihood of there being any increase in numbers is remote to a vanishing point,” he said.