The exhortations to Westminster to “get its house in order” (Letters, 24 February) following the events leading to Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s resignations are understandable, but are not a reason for complacency concerning Holyrood.
On the same day that Sir Malcolm resigned, it emerged that Scottish ministers had taken the unusual step of directing the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) to consider reinstating the allocation in its local development plan (LDP) for a housing development in native woodland at Carrbridge, which is within the constituency of SNP MSP Fergus Ewing, minister for business, energy and tourism.
The allocation had been removed by the CNPA following a recommendation to that effect by the Reporter from the Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals who had examined its draft LDP.
The prospective developer for the Carrbridge site is Tulloch Homes and the reason for disquiet was revealed by The Scotsman on 26 February, 2009.
It stated: “A prominent Scottish businessman gave £50,000 to the SNP in November, the Electoral Commission revealed yesterday.
“Angus Tulloch, who used to own Tulloch Homes, paid the money to the Nationalists on 6 November.
“It was the biggest donation the party received in the last quarter of 2008 and Mr Tulloch’s fifth significant donation since 2001.”
If it is appropriate to question the possible role that money may play in influencing the decision-making processes in Westminster, should we not be similarly concerned at similar possibilities in Holyrood?
Regarding MPs’ second jobs, parliamentary rules need to distinguish between a person continuing, in a limited way, in an occupation, profession, or business from which they earned a living before election, and the misuse of the position of privilege and influence to which their constituents have elevated them.
To sell favours for personal gain based solely on knowledge or contacts derived from their office as an MP is an abuse of the trust placed in them.
However, to maintain contact with the “real world” could better equip them for their main job.
During Thursday’s debate in parliament the SNP member Pete Wishart declared that “looking after our constituents is a full-time job. A second job means a second master, and that second master expects something back in return.
“Let us make sure that we do this job exclusively on behalf of our constituents. There should be no second jobs.”
I wonder if Mr Wishart will now call for Alex Salmond to stand down as parliamentary candidate for Gordon considering he already has a full-time job as an MSP.
The last time Mr Salmond held two jobs as both an MP and as an MSP he drew two salaries and excused himself by giving one salary to charity.
I can think of no normal employer who would stand for such an excuse when the employee is found out for moonlighting on his full-time job.