Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Sunday, 11 April 2010 15:41 UK

Alex Salmond criticises UK Parliament

Alex Salmond in House of Commons
Alex Salmond speaking in the House of Commons

The SNP leader Alex Salmond is marking his final day as an MP with a damning criticism of the House of Commons.

Mr Salmond, who is standing down as an MP after 23 years, says parliament has suffered "an extraordinary decline".

In a video released to mark his departure Scotland's first minister said the reputation of the House had "never been lower".

He likened the standing of the House of Commons to the final days of the last Tory government in the 1990s.

Mr Salmond is due to step down as MP for Banff and Buchan on Monday.

In the broadcast, posted on YouTube, Mr Salmond said: "The folk of Banff and Buchan are great and they will always be great. But Westminster has declined in an extraordinary fashion over the last two decades.

The reputation of the House of Commons has never been lower
Alex Salmond
Scotland's First Minister

"When I went there at first, when you went into the chamber of the House of Commons there were folk worth listening to. You get none of that now, none of it at all.

"But even more seriously, the reputation of the House of Commons has never been lower. It is like the 90s and John Major and all that back to basics stuff amplified 10 times over."

A Conservative Party spokesman accused Mr Salmond of hypocrisy.

"He needs to come clean about the tens of thousands of pounds he is going to claim from the taxpayer to step down as an MP," he said. "His £65,000 "Golden Goodbye" is not automatic as has been suggested. Commons rules say he has to apply for it.

"I think Alex Salmond has misread the public mood. Trust in politics is at an all-time low and our leaders need to act responsibly, not cash in at the taxpayers' expense."

Q&A sessions

Mr Salmond also announced that he is to take part in a series of question and answer sessions with voters across the country, instead of taking part in the national televised leaders' debate.

The first minister was excluded from taking part in the debates with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the run-up to the general election on 6 May.

Instead, he will appear in town hall meetings to meet voters in key Scottish constituencies.

He said the meetings, hosted by Scottish actress and comedienne Elaine C Smith, were the "ideal opportunity to speak to real people in real communities".

They will take place over the course of the general election campaign in Gordon, Livingston, Dundee and Glasgow.

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