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Holyrood plan for Recall Bill

CONSENSUS is being sought among political leaders to extend a Bill aimed at sacking MPs guilty of wrongdoing to MSPs.

Former Holyrood SNP politician Bill Walker would have been swiftly expelled from the Scottish Parliament if the process had been in place when he was convicted and jailed for a series of assaults on three former wives and his teenage step-daughter.

Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, hailed the Recall Bill, outlined in yesterday's Queen's Speech, as an "enormous advance" on current measures intended to deal with recalcitrant members of parliament.

But critics were quick to brand it meaningless because its terms were so narrowly drawn.

At present MPs can be expelled if they are sentenced to a jail term of more than 12 months; the new proposal is to expand this to any member serving a term of less than 12 months.

However, other cases of bad ­behaviour would only trigger a possible by-election if the Commons found an individual had engaged in "serious wrongdoing" and recommended they face a recall petition.

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said: "No-one will be recalled. This is all power to the parliamentary committee and no power to the voter, which is what it is meant to be."

Mr Carmichael said he had written to political leaders in Scotland to get proposals on how this could be dealt with at Holyrood.

He added: "If there is a consensus among the Scottish parties I shall do everything possible to make sure amendments will be brought forward."

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Local government

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