Scottish Parliament needs second chamber, claims Jack McConnell

Lord McConnell served as first minister from 2001-2007. Picture: Michael Gillen
Lord McConnell served as first minister from 2001-2007. Picture: Michael Gillen
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The Scottish Parliament requires a second chamber to provide an “additional check” on the work of MSPs, former first minister Jack McConnell has claimed.

Brexit provided the ideal opportunity to reform Scotland’s constitutional settlment and strengthen devolution, the ex-Scottish Labour leader said.

He called for a new chamber to take the form of a Consultative Assembly, which would not have a legislative function but would provide more accountability and give councils more say.

The Labour peer added that there should be a national debate on setting up the assembly.

READ MORE: Brexit exposes ‘fault line’ in Scottish devolution

“You could have one representative for each of the local authorities, maybe two for each city,” he said in an interview with The Herald.

“You could have a select number of representatives of business and, similarly, the voluntary sector.

“I would have a role for the local authorities at the centre. They have been disempowered for the last 20 years. There is a need to revitalise, re-energise their voice.

Asked if such a reform would lead to yet more politicans, the former MSP replied: “We would not create a new set of politicians. The Scottish Parliament would be legislatively bound to listen to them.

“It would act as an official check on the work of Holyrood.”

He said the assembly would sit part-time and meet to discuss big issues such as the Scottish budget or key legislation.

Membership would be limited to under 100 and an allowance could be paid for attendance.

Lord McConnell said the extra level of scrutiny is needed to deal with “a gap in terms of accountability and engagement 20 years on from the creation of the Scottish Parliament”.