Justice Secretary kenny MacAskill has told lawyers who are sceptical about plans to abolish corroboration that politicians make the laws and not the legal profession.

Corroboration, the centuries-old requirement for more than one source of incriminating evidence, must be abolished to protect victims of rape and domestic abuse, Kenny MacAskill said at the SNP conference in Perth.

He also told businesses that Scotland's emergency services and criminal justice system are not for sale, and senior police ranks will not be opened up to fast-track employment by "supermarket managers or financial consultants".

Scottish police stand to earn £250,000 more than English police and should be allowed early retirement, he said.

Mr MacAskill said: "Women, children, the elderly and the vulnerable suffering in silence behind closed doors means we can be silent no more.

"The inability to meet the requirement for corroboration, a requirement not needed in any other jurisdiction, results in the inability to prosecute offences and the denial of justice for too many."

He added: "Yes, some in the legal fraternity disagree. But laws are made by parliament not one profession. This is about justice in our communities not a debate between learned legal friends.

"And that's why, while I listen respectfully to the legal profession, I also listen to the pleas of Victim Support Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women's Aid, the representations by Police Scotland and the comments of the Association of Police Superintendents in Scotland.

"They don't partake in a legal debate. They mop up the blood and they wipe away the tears from victims who have suffered behind closed doors. They can console and they can comfort but they cannot currently provide access to justice.

"The time has come to do what is right, to support the Lord Justice Clerk, and to get Scottish criminal law into the 21st century. Justice there must be, and corroboration must go."

He called an overhaul of police pay, conditions and recruitment in England by ex-rail regulator Tom Winsor "a savage attack on the terms and conditions of these who serve".

Mr MacAskill said: "Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, has said that as a consequence of the Winsor package a police officer in England and Wales could be as much as £250,000 worse off than a colleague in Scotland over his or her career.

"Down in England they are proposing direct entry to the Police Service. Senior officers will be recruited never having served as a constable.

"Whether inspector, superintendent or even chief constable. In Scotland I want the assurance they've had 10 years' police experience. Not 10 years' as a supermarket manager or financial consultant. We will not invoke direct entry."

He added: "There are some jobs that are restricted by age and capacity. To expect a prison officer to work on the landing of Barlinnie until the age of 68 is frankly ridiculous. It applies across the uniformed services.

"The uniformed services are distinct given the stresses and strains of the job. That is why with the powers after a Yes vote in September 2014 the Scottish Government has committed to review."

He continued: "In England and Wales, privatisation, whether in probation services or the police, is under way or being considered. Here in Scotland we will not privatise our police, fire & rescue or criminal justice services.

"It's not just police and prisons we won't privatise but criminal justice services. Probation is not for sale. Criminal Justice social work is a service not a business and will remain so."

Westminster's "privatisation obsession" has been a key theme of the SNP conference.

First Minister Alex Salmond praised Scotland's nationalised water authority and attacked "privatisation" of the Royal Mail and the NHS, backed by Health Secretary Alex Neil who warned of the introduction of "American-style health insurance" in England.

Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: "Kenny MacAskill has attempted to portray opposition to his plans to scrap corroboration as the vested interests of the legal profession against the rights of victims.

"However, this is very much a gross distortion of the issues at stake.

"Corroboration, in practice, is at the very heart of the Scottish criminal justice system.

"It is very much in general use on a daily basis, where it provides a safeguard against miscarriages of justice and all the misery that results from this for complainers and accused alike.

"A significant number of organisations are opposed to this, and their comments represent a clear indication of the strength of feeling against the abolition of corroboration.

"It is totally unacceptable that a decision of this magnitude is crammed in with the justice committee's scrutiny of the Criminal Justice Bill."