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Sunday, November 14, 1999 Published at 19:24 GMT

UK: Scotland

MSPs fight over status

George Reid wants to ensure equal status for MSPs

The Scottish Parliament is to make a new effort to sort out internal squabbling between the two categories of MSP.

The move follows tension between those elected for individual constituencies and those on the top-up lists.

The tension between MSPs has been highlighted by a case in Ardrossan where there has been a row about banking facilities.

Constituency Labour MSP Allan Wilson says he can handle it, and that he does not need any contribution from regional list MSP Kay Ullrich of the SNP.

Most Labour MSPs won local seats, and they are worried the Nationalists - mostly from top-up lists - will try to set up shop in their home patch, possibly grabbing votes.

'Equal rights'

On Monday deputy presiding officer George Reid will convene talks aimed at easing the row.

He will propose working rules of etiquette to end conflict - but he starts from first principles of equality.

"The first principle as from now is that every person in Scotland is represented by eight MSPs - one constituency MSP and seven from the appropriate region, plus of course in non-devolved matters MPs and MEPs, " said Mr Reid MSP.

"Secondly, all MSPs whether they represent a constituency or a region are equal in rights and status.

"Thirdly, it's up to the individual constituent to decide which MSP they go to. The MSP must decide what is in the best interest of the constituent, and lastly their should be no poaching."

He added: "The important thing is to get the principles clear so that the MPs themselves, their researchers the chief executives of healthboards and so on and so forth know what the rules are."

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