Analysis: Independent thinking is key to overseeing one-party rule

THE committees play a very important role in the Scottish Parliament and now we have a clear SNP majority they will have a new challenge to face.

The committees need to demonstrate independence of thought and be determined to hold the government to account.

Of course the new committees need time to find their feet in this unprecedented situation of one party having an overall majority, but if the parliament is to have any credibility we need strong independent-minded committees.

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They need to be prepared to criticise at times, in the way that Westminster select committees have done in the past.

Many of the select committees in the House of Commons have demonstrated that independence over a number of years by holding successive governments to account. In the Scottish Parliament we need to reflect on the way the Westminster system has operated.

We do have some strong committees at Holyrood, but now we need to improve the system further and ensure legislation is properly scrutinised. The committees at Holyrood perform a very important legislative role, but they don't have as strong a revising role as we need. This is something that is crucial when it comes to getting legislation right and ensuring laws are not rushed through.

One example of this in my view is the plans to tackle sectarianism put forward by Alex Salmond.

I'm in total agreement that we need to tackle this problem, but the legislation must be thought through and not rushed. We have to make sure it's detailed legislation and that it deals with this very real problem.

• Hugh Henry is the Public Audit Committee convenor.