A SENIOR Tory MSP says political parties should be stripped of powers to make Holyrood debates less “constrained and scripted”.

Stephen Kerr, who spent two years in the House of Commons as MP for Stirling between 2017 and 2019 before being elected to Holyrood last year, insisted that change is needed to how the Scottish Parliament operates to move away from ‘stale debates’.

Mr Kerr, who is the Tory chief whip at Holyrood, has called for sweeping reforms to halt scripted questions from backbench SNP MSPs and stages answers from Scottish Government ministers in a bid to raise the level of debate.

Mr Kerr said the difference he has noticed since making the switch from Westminster to Holyrood is the scripted nature of debate, particularly from the party of government.

He said the stale environment was down to “the nature of having a nationalist government”.

Mr Kerr added: “I think it’s horrendously weak, not to be prepared to ask questions of each other.”

The Central Scotland MSP said: “There are reforms that we need to bring forward for the Scottish Parliament that would make it more lively and more spontaneous and less scripted - it’s horribly scripted.

“I’d like the presiding officer to have more power and exercise it, I’d like the parties to have less power. As the chief whip, I get to choose who speaks – that’s not right.”

Mr Kerr has previously hit out at the SNP, claiming there is a “degree of contempt from the Government towards the parliament”, adding that the Scottish Government is “renowned for its grip on and control of everything to do with its remit”.

He added: “We have a culture of conformity in this place, which needs to be broken.”

But the SNP has rejected the claims from Mr Kerr - pointing to his party leader being forced to miss last week’s First Minister’s Questions through illness.

SNP MSP Paul McLennan said: “This is pathetic moaning from Stephen Kerr – and having been benched in favour of Jamie Greene at last week’s FMQs, it’s obvious even the Tory leadership don’t want to hear him anymore than absolutely necessary.

“The Tories get plenty time to ask their own questions – it’s not parliament’s fault if they’re not very good at it.”

“If Mr Kerr wants more time for the Tories in Holyrood then they should focus on how they can win an election - something they’ve failed to do in Scotland for 70 years.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “The Presiding Officer has repeatedly made clear her commitment to ensuring that all members are able to fully scrutinise and hold the Scottish Government to account.

“As with any Member, Mr Kerr is welcome to share any views on procedural reforms with the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.”