Tories call for 6-month limit on missing MSPs in wake of Mackay scandal

MSPs who do not turn up to Holyrood yet claim their full salary should be kicked out of the Scottish Parliament after six months, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Derek Mackay has not been in Holyrood since February.
Derek Mackay has not been in Holyrood since February.

The call to change parliamentary practice comes as pressure mounts on shamed former finance secretary, Derek Mackay, to resign his seat after his complete absence from Holyrood since revelations that he had bombarded a teenage schoolboy with unwanted text messages.

While the SNP suspended his membership, parliamentary rules mean that parties cannot force individuals to resign their seats and as a result he is still collecting his £64,470 salary, despite not voting in Holyrood or attending constituency surgeries since February 5.

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Last week, the boy’s mother also called for Mr Mackay to step down given his months of paid inactivity and yesterday the Scottish Tories demanded Mr Mackay turn up to parliament to answer questions about a £30m loan given to crisis-hit shipyard Ferguson Marine, before he nationalised the Clyde yard.

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Derek Mackay could quit as MSP with £50k ill-health pay-off
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Now Conservative MSP, Graham Simpson has said he will introduce a private Bill in Holyrood to change the rules.

Mr Mackay, who represents Renfrewshire North and West has not attended any surgeries since his resignation. Opposition parties have been calling for resignation for months, and the local authority where he began his political career, Renfrewshire Council, has also passed a unanimous motion that he should quit as an MSP.

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However it had previously been speculated that SNP senior officials wanted to ensure Mr Mackay retired from Holyrood due to ill health, as a result of the impact on his mental health of the revelations. It would mean he would be able to received a £50,000 pay off.

Mr Simpson, the Scottish Conservative transport spokesman, said he will bring forward a Bill to introduce a “Mackay's Law” so that any MSP who failed to show up to Holyrood for six months could no longer remain as a member of the Scottish Parliament, similar to the rules in many local councils.

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“Most councils have rules on this and if Derek Mackay was a councillor and hadn’t done his job for six months then he would have been drummed out," he said. “But there are no rules covering MSPs’ attendance, which means they can do nothing and pocket the cash.

“In theory, you could act like Derek Mackay is currently doing for five years. That is just wrong. If you are elected to the Scottish Parliament you should be a worker not a shirker. Nothing else should be allowed.

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“If Mr Mackay had any honour left he would stand down now and allow the people of Renfrewshire North and West to elect someone who will properly represent them.”

An SNP spokesperson said: "Any proposals such as those the Tories are suggesting would apply to all parties, and would be for Parliament as a whole to discuss.”

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Joy Yates

Editorial Director



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