Thursday 2 October 2003

Let's save a bit of money

Brian Wilson, the MP for Cunninghame North, has spoken out against list MSPs - those elected to the Scottish parliament under the proportional representation system. Naturally, his targets have responded:
He was immediately accused of "throwing a tantrum", and his comments provoked an angry backlash from list MSPs, who said they were much more useful than him - and doing more work. Mr Wilson exposed the tension between those elected on party lists and constituency members, as well as the distrust that still exists between MPs and MSPs.
I find myself in unusual agreement with Colin Fox who is a "list" MSP for the Scottish Socialist Party:
"The truth is list MSPs for the SSP are very busy both with casework and campaigns in their region. Compare them to Westminster MPs with little to do and we can see the difference."
I don't of course approve of any of Mr Fox's "casework" and "campaigns" but he is right to draw attention to the fact that Scotland's Westminster MPs have little to do given that so much domestic governance is now devolved to the Edinburgh legislature. We need to make two changes. First, Scottish MPs should be banned from voting at Westminster on any matters that have been devolved to Edinburgh and second, the salaries of Scottish MPs should be halved to take account of their reduced responsibilities. What possible objection could be made by Brian Wilson?