THE SNP have been accused of a “shameful” attempt to scrap next week’s FMQs so their new leader could avoid opposition questioning.

Minister for parliamentary business George Adam this morning proposed cancelling the FMQs due on March 30 until April 20, after Holyrood’s Easter recess.

It is understood Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone and the other opposition parties objected at the weekly meeting of the parliament's business bureau and he backed down.

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Nicola Sturgeon’s replacement will be named next Monday after a two-week ballot of SNP members, then confirmed by MSPs and the Court of Session on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Their maiden appearance at FMQs is then due on Thursday.

However, despite new first ministers and prime ministers, traditionally facing opposition questions without delay, Mr Adam tried to kick the key test down the road. 

Ms Sturgeon faced her first FMQs the same day she was sworn in at the Court of Session, although she had been deputy FM for seven years beforehand.

It was also just over a fortnight before Alex Salmond faced his first FMQs, although that was because he had to form a new government and get ministers approved by MSPs.

It was a week before Labour FMs Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell faced their first FMQs.

Scottish Tory chief whip Alexander Burnett said: “This shameful attempt to hide the First Minister from scrutiny was a new low – even for a party as obsessed as the SNP are with secrecy and spin.

“It was an outrageous affront to democracy that Nationalist business managers even attempted this stunt.

“This was totally unprecedented and unacceptable – every new First Minister or Prime Minister has faced parliamentary scrutiny whenever their first FMQs or PMQs has happened to fall.

“Nicola Sturgeon did her first FMQs on 20 November 2014, the day after becoming First Minister. But this cowardly move tells you everything about the current state of the SNP.

“The leadership election has revealed a party in the grip of a civil war.

“The candidates have been kicking lumps out of each other, trashing Nicola Sturgeon’s record and questioning the integrity of the election itself, while the SNP’s chief executive and top spin doctor have resigned for lying to the media and party members. 

“The new First Minister may not want to face the music over this carnage at FMQs but it’s part of the job – and the SNP have been forced to accept he or she can’t be hidden away.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "That Nicola Sturgeon did not think her would-be successors would be ready for parliamentary scrutiny in week one is hardly a vote of confidence in their abilities.

"Pressing questions about dentistry, the health service and the climate emergency have been neglected while the SNP's shambolic leadership contest rattles on.

"The least the new First Minister can do is be prepared to answer some questions about their party's record of failure."

An SNP spokesperson hit back and said: “We’ll take no lectures from a Tory party which not so long ago illegally shut down the Commons to dodge scrutiny.

“Whoever becomes first minister will be more than happy to face questions at Holyrood every week.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “The Parliament does not comment on Bureau discussions.”