IT has long been common for MSPs to get involved in bad-tempered rows at Holyrood.

But the arrival of Twitter as a means of communication for politicians has led to new rules aimed at preventing our upstanding members getting into arguments on the social media network with members of the public and other MSPs.

New guidance issued by Holyrood's standards committee warns the "robust" clashes normally seen in the parliamentary chamber "may be perceived negatively" on the forum.

However, the guidelines are not just aimed at protecting the public from rampaging parliamentarians. MSPs have also been told to avoid online discussion with abusive social media users.

They should block aggressive tweeters, the guidelines say, and not "retweet", or forward on, their comments.

The cross-party standards committee – which scrutinises MSPs' behaviour and sits in judgment on those accused of breaking rules – gave the warning in a new section of Hollyrood's Code of Conduct.

It says: "The code requires that members must treat other MSPs and the staff of other MSPs with courtesy and respect.

"Members are used to applying this requirement to conduct in parliamentary proceedings and the provision does not inhibit robust debate and exchange of views. The same considerations apply in relation to conduct on social media."