Independent Scotland would “need 70 more MSPs”

SCOTLAND would need 70 more MSPs if the country becomes independent, an SNP backbencher has said.

Dave Thompson, the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP says more politicians would be needed to ensure the current crop are not be overloaded and make mistakes.

Independence would see Scotland take on a range of new responsibilites over areas like defence, foreign affairs and the welfare system.

But the proposal has been derided by opposition parties.

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Tory Alex Johnstone said: “Where does the SNP intend to fit all these new MSPs?

“We know Alex Salmond doesn’t like scrutiny or transparency, so perhaps he’d get rid of the media gallery to cram them in.

“Or it could be that the failure to deliver nearly £500 million worth of NPD schemes was a masterplan all along - to fund the construction of a bigger parliament?”

Labour’s James Kelly said it would create the need for more office space at Holyrood and the Parliamentary chamber would need to be dramatically increased in size.

“Is he suggesting that we build a bigger Parliament?” he added.

“Many would argue that we already have too many MSPs, particularly when a majority of them seem to put the interests of Alex Salmond before the people they are supposed to represent.”

Commenting, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said key independence questions had to be answered by the SNP.

“The SNP has yet to tell people what would happen to our welfare state or our armed forces in an independent Scotland but already their MSPs are plotting for more power should Scotland vote to leave the UK. The nationalists are showing an increasing contempt towards people who have real concerns about their independence plans.

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“With their independence plans failing to gain support, the nationalists are now trying to fast forward the debate. Dave Thompson should put down his box of rosettes and instead convince Alex Salmond to start providing answers.”

The SNP says Mr Thompson was speaking in a personal capacity and there are “no plans to increase the number of MSPs.”

A party spokesman said: “There is no doubt that we would save many millions of pounds with independence by removing the Westminster tier from the government of Scotland - to add insult to injury the people of Scotland didn’t even vote for the Tory-led administration in London.”