Scottish Parliament code of conduct 'should be reviewed'

From Democracy Live: Alex Salmond admitted last week he had quoted a wrong figure in the Holyrood chamber

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Labour has called for a review of Holyrood's procedures after the first minister apologised to the chamber for quoting an incorrect figure.

The party said a new "independently enforced" code of conduct was needed that "compels ministers to be honest and accurate".

First Minister Alex Salmond apologised to MSPs last week after quoting a wrong figure for college budgets.

The SNP accused Labour of "sour grapes" and "moaning".

Mr Salmond had told MSPs during First Minister's Questions that resource funding for colleges was £545m in 2011-12 and £546m in 2012-13.

However, he later explained the figure of £545m for last year did not take into account changes to the budget, and should instead have been £555.7m.

Start Quote

The fact the SNP have a majority in the Scottish Parliament is the result of a fair democratic election”

End Quote SNP spokeswoman

Labour claimed Mr Salmond and the Education Secretary Mike Russell had "misrepresented college funding over a period of months".

The party's business manager, Paul Martin, has written to the Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick, asking her to work with party leaders to come up with a new code of conduct.

Mr Martin said: "What we saw from the first minister and his education secretary was not only embarrassing for them, it was embarrassing for Scottish democracy.

"There is nothing to prevent the abuse of power we have seen from Alex Salmond. His behaviour has tested the very structures of our parliament and they have been found wanting.

"Whenever something contentious happens, he uses his majority to close down committee inquiries. When the first minister is caught out, he refers himself under a code he writes and re-writes, decides the terms of the charge and appoints his own judges."

'Endlessly negative'

Ms Marwick has repeatedly told MSPs that she is not responsible for the veracity of statements made in the chamber.

An SNP spokeswoman said: "Holyrood's procedures are a matter for the presiding officer and the parliamentary authorities, and Labour are free to raise these issues with them.

"Unfortunately though, this just looks like yet more sour grapes and moaning from a Labour party that is endlessly negative. The fact the SNP have a majority in the Scottish Parliament is the result of a fair democratic election - presumably Labour don't have a problem with simple democracy?

"It was that same Labour negativity which ensured they lost last year's election so resoundingly - and this latest whinging suggests they have learned absolutely nothing."

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