THE SNP is set to introduce stricter disciplinary rules for the party in the wake of the allegations about the conduct of former minister Mark McDonald.

McDonald was absent from parliament during a four-month SNP investigation launched after he quit as minister for childcare, amid reports that he had sent a text message to a woman which contained a reference to a sex act.

However, the party leadership now wants to bring in "faster sanctioning" and to give more "flexible" powers to the party's disciplinary committee to punish offenders.

The dramatic move has the full backing of the party leadership and has been lodged as a resolution at the party's forthcoming conference by SNP business convenor Derek Mackay.

SNP national secretary Angus MacLeod has also endorsed the plan, which is part of a radical overhaul of the party's internal organisation.

Details of the shake up are contained in a confidential provisional agenda for the SNP's June conference in Aberdeen, obtained by the Sunday Herald.

The document reveals that a stricter disciplinary regime is part of the first resolution scheduled for debate.

The resolution states: "Sexual harassment, inappropriate conduct, social media abuse, and bullying in all forms will be incorporated into the member conduct standards.

"The disciplinary committee will be given more flexible sanctioning powers to allow the sanction to better reflect the breach

"A standards breach policy will be promulgated to give members and the disciplinary committee better guidance on sanctioning."

McDonald quit the SNP last month following allegations about his conduct. The Aberdeen Donside MSP initially said that "some of my previous actions have been considered to be inappropriate", before later conceding that his actions had caused "considerable distress and upset".

McDonald was subsequently suspended by the SNP after "new information" came to light, leading to his four-month absence from parliament while an investigation was conducted.

McDonald has insisted he is "morally justified" in staying on as an independent MSP, despite being elected on an SNP ticket at the 2016 election.

The SNP faced widespread criticism over the length of its investigation into McDonald and has yet to publish its findings.

Under the proposed changes, the party's disciplinary committee would be handed greater powers to impose punishments that reflect the nature of an offence.

Sexual harassment, social media abuse and bullying would be covered in a code of conduct party members have to abide by.

There would also be a "standards breach policy" to deal with those breaking the rules, and an SNP "standards fiscal" would take charge of complaints made against party members. Under existing arrangements, complaints are handled by the party's national secretary.

The proposals are part of a series of radical changes the conference will be asked to make to the SNP's structure and organisation.

Under the shake-up, the SNP's governing body, the national council will be abolished. The national council currently acts as the SNP's main policy-making body when no conference is scheduled.

Instead, the SNP will be governed by a new national assembly, at which party members from each of the eight Scottish Parliament regions will be represented.

Each Scottish Parliament region will also be represented on an expanded national executive committee, which makes decisions about candidate selections and party management.

However, no motions have been scheduled for a debate on Scottish independence or a second referendum.