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MSPs "responding to public demands for transparency": Commissioner

30 March 2009

Scottish parliamentarians have responded more quickly to public demands for transparency than their counterparts at Westminster, according to the outgoing Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

Dr Jim Dyer, who was appointed as the first commissioner in 2003, steps down at the end of this month after serving two three-year terms.

In a BBC interview he said that during his six years in office, he had never uncovered any "major corruption", but added he was surprised that MSPs were not more aware of the pitfalls.

"There have been problems and some high-profile cases, but it tends to be more a kind of lazy or sometimes arrogant attitude to the rules, 'the rules don't apply to me or the rules are there to be got round', rather than anything more sinister,” he said.

Speaking on the day a further row broke out at Westminster following an apology by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith over a claim for hiring two adult films, Dr Dyer said: "I think Scotland has responded more quickly to the public requirements for transparency.

"Generally, Scotland is ahead on these standards issues, and Westminster really needs to be dragged into the 21st century."

Dr Dyer welcomed the ending of the scheme that permitted some MSPs to claim mortgage interest for a second home in Edinburgh, following an independent review.

His decisions on standards included the ruling that Wendy Alexander broke the rules on registering donations. Ms Alexander resigned as Scottish Labour leader when under fire over the late declaration of donations to her leadership campaign on her register of interests.


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