POWERS for MSPs to set the election date for the Scottish Parliament are to be accelerated by the UK government.
Tory Scottish Secretary David Mundell has announced the UK government will devolve the power to Holyrood to set an alternative date for the Scottish Parliament election which had been due to take place in 2020.
The decision came after both the UK and Scottish governments agreed voters should be aware of the length of term they will be electing MSPs to in 2016.
Mr Mundell has written to the Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick and all Scottish party leaders to inform them that Scotland Office is taking forward a Section 30 Order to devolve the power which will allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate on the timing of the first Scottish Parliament general election to be held after 2016.
The wider power to set election dates beyond the next Scottish Parliament election will be included in the Scotland Bill.
Mr Mundell said: “This is a sensible move which ensures clarity for voters in Scotland by giving the Scottish Parliament the power to set its own parliamentary terms. It will ensure Holyrood elections take place separately from others in future.”