Willie Rennie wants to evoke the ‘spirit of 99’ for the Scottish Parliament with a range of reforms aimed at building back public trust.
Four year terms, a change in the voting system, a new MSP and ministerial complaints procedure and a contempt of parliament law could all be made, the Lib Dems have said.
Mr Rennie, the party candidate for North East Fife in May’s election, believes the moves will improve the operation of Scottish politics, make it work better for people, and address “emerging problems in the balance between the elected parliament and the government”.
The Lib Dems said they would work with other parties in the next session of parliament to bring the plans forward.
The party wants to change or introduce the following:
- A return to a four-year parliamentary term
- A single-transferable vote
- New rule for Contempt of Parliament
- Use remote working experience to create a more family-friendly environment
- Bodies given public cash to keep a ‘right to criticise’ Scottish Government
- Strengthen Freedom of Information laws
- More powers for Public Audit Committee
- A major inquiry to hear the lived experiences of people during the pandemic
- A new complaints process within the civil service
New rules to restore trust
Mr Rennie said the party was proposing changes following years of the Scottish Government “ignoring the will of parliament” and committees failing to execute their powers in the way they should.
“We want to restore trust to the public.
“The first thing we want to do is restore the four-year parliamentary cycle.
“Politicians think they can act as they can for longer, without having to go back to the people and we think we should go back to the four year cycle.
“We need to change the voting system to reflect a truer form of proportional representation, subject to less manipulation from political parties.
“We need a new rule for contempt of parliament.
“In 2018, Theresa May’s government was found in contempt for refusing to release the Brexit legal advice.
“We feel there should be the same power to do that. The Scottish Government has ignored the parliamentary vote on removing testing for five year olds and the release of the OECD report. We think they should be prevented from doing that in future.
“It shifts the balance more in favour of parliament.
“Some of the practices of remote working should be embedded, there’s no reason why committees and parliament cannot meet in hybrid form and voting can be done remotely. It would rebalance the work-life balance for some.
“There’s also a new momentum behind recall. The old excuses, because we have a list system then it is not valid, are wearing thin.
“We have had too many individual MSPs we have been unable to get rid of who have brought the parliament into disrepute.