THE brief history of Scotland's parliament has been dogged by more than enough controversy already, but it now has a fresh issue to deal with: how to say its name.

In the great tradition of debates over words such as tomato and potato, the presiding officer's staff have commissioned research into how to pronounce Holyrood.

George Reid's office asked the parliament's information centre to clarify whether it should be pronounced Holy, as in Holy Willie, or as if it were spelled with two Ls as in Hollywood.

Confused? A definitive announcement is expected soon.

Although the parliament takes its name from the abbey founded in the twelfth century, Edinburgh folk have traditionally pronounced it Holly-rood. But MSPs from outside the area have imported Holy-rood.

Mr Reid has come down firmly in the latter camp. He said: ''It's holy as in prayer, because it's the place of the Holy Rood, the Holy Cross . . . I will just keep calling it Holy-rood in the hope people follow my practice.''

Fergus Ewing, of the SNP, started the debate after receiving a ''vituperative letter'' about his use of Holy-rood.

There was no sign of an executive split, however, as we understand Jack McConnell, first minister, and Jim Wallace, his Liberal Democrat deputy, are both confirmed Holly-men.