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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 21:16 GMT 22:16 UK
Tory peer backs MSPs' abolition
James Gray
James Gray resigned over comments he made in interviews
A Tory peer has voiced his support for the controversial views which saw the shadow Scottish secretary resign after just a week in the job.

James Gray quit after suggesting MSPs be abolished, with Scots MPs handling the country's business at Holyrood and UK business at Westminster.

But former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth said it was "a good idea".

He said it could save millions of pounds and give Scotland more of a say at Westminster.

Mr Gray, the MP for North Wiltshire, quit the post after making his comments in a newspaper interview.

'Open to interpretation'

The party quickly stressed the remarks were not official party policy and Scottish leader David McLetchie said his position had become "untenable".

In his resignation letter Mr Gray said he fully supported the party's policy on devolution, but admitted that the words he had used "might be open to interpretation".

However, Lord Forsyth came to his defence on BBC Radio Scotland's Politics Tonight programme.

It's an idea which would benefit the taxpayer and which would also mean that Scottish MPs at Westminster had more authority and something to do
Lord Forsyth

"James was not suggesting there should not be a Scottish Parliament," he said.

"He was simply suggesting that we should get rid of MSPs and have the existing Scottish members of parliament in the Scottish Parliament.

"I think that is a good idea - it's an idea which would benefit the taxpayer and which would also mean that Scottish MPs at Westminster had more authority and something to do."

He said Scotland had become "marginalised" at Westminster as a result of devolution.

"We could save a huge amount of money, many millions of pounds, improve the overall calibre of our representatives, and have a stronger voice in Westminster where it mattered - bearing in mind the Scottish Parliament only sits for two days a week," said Lord Forsyth.

'Not surprising'

He said that such ideas should be considered seriously and discussed properly.

And he added: "The MSPs are not the Scottish Conservative Party.

"And it would be surprising if MSPs did not think it was a bad idea that they should be abolished."

Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing has been appointed as Mr Gray's successor.


SEE ALSO:
Shadow Scottish secretary resigns
19 May 05 |  Scotland
Wiltshire MP takes on Scots role
12 May 05 |  Scotland
Duncan loses in Tory poll setback
06 May 05 |  Scotland
Conservatives hail lone success
06 May 05 |  Scotland


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