PLANS have been launched that would mean an MSP would be sacked if they consistently fail to turn up to Holyrood or sentenced to serve a prison term.

The Scottish Conservatives’ proposals would allow an MSP to be dismissed if they don’t take part in Holyrood proceedings for more than six months without a valid reason.

The idea, proposed by Tory MSP Graham Simpson, would bring Holyrood into line with councils.

The move comes after SNP finance secretary Derek Mackay quit the Scottish Government in February 2020 after sending inappropriate messages to a 16-year-old boy – but he remained an MSP until last year’s election.

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Mr Mackay continued to earn a publicly-funded salary despite taking no part in Holyrood’s work and there was no method to remove him from office.

The proposed Bill would also ensure the automatic removal from office of any MSP sentenced to a prison term regardless of the length of sentence.

Current legislation states that jail terms need to be longer than a year for an MSP to be unseated.

The Bill would also consider setting up a system of recall for MSPs, allowing voters to trigger a special election to remove an MSP who has been sanctioned for breaching rules.

Mr Simpson, said: “I am delighted to launch the consultation for this Bill which will address anomalies within our Scottish Parliament.

“The vast majority of MSPs enter politics to serve their constituents to the best of their ability – but in all parties there may be members who have abused their position or failed to meet the high standards expected of them. This Bill will provide the levers to remove them from office.

“The taxpayer should not be paying for an empty seat in the parliament debating chamber, nor should constituents be left unrepresented if their MSP is serving jail time.

“This Bill is common sense and would reassure the public that MSPs will be held to account for their misconduct, rather than being able to claim a salary while hiding away and running down the clock on their term. I urge fellow MSPs of all parties to back it.”

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Scottish Labour’s Neil Bibby said: “The ongoing Tory scandal at Westminster and the SNP’s lack of transparency in Scotland has only strengthened the need for the people of Scotland to be able to hold MSPs to account.

“Public trust in elected politicians is vital to the proper functioning of our democracy, but the failings of Tory and SNP politicians has eroded it over many years.

“Scottish Labour is committed to ensuring that the people of Scotland have the power to hold MSPs to account and believe the time has come for legislative action on this matter and that of double jobbing.”

The LibDems’ Willie Rennie said there was a duty on MSPs “to ensure there is an appropriate range of sanctions set out to maintain the high standards among parliamentarians the public expects”.