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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 15:45 GMT
UK 'unpersuaded' over elections
Ballot paper
More than 140,000 ballot papers were rejected in the May elections
The UK Government remains "unpersuaded" that control of the Scottish Parliament elections should be passed from Westminster to Holyrood.

First Minister Alex Salmond met Scottish Secretary Des Browne earlier to discuss the Gould report into the chaos at May's elections.

The report said control of future Scots elections should be reconsidered.

However, in an "amicable meeting", Mr Browne refused to back down by giving the Scottish Parliament further powers.

Following the meeting, in Edinburgh, Mr Salmond said: "I think I would have to say that, at best, the Secretary of State is unpersuaded by the Scottish Parliament's view and the recommendations of the Gould commission that legislative control should come to the Scottish Parliament.

I think at the end of the day that parliament should control its own elections
Alex Salmond
First Minister

"It was an amicable meeting and he has agreed that the decision is one that should be taken early, that should be taken first, but 'unpersuaded' is probably the best I could say about his attitude.

"I think that's unfortunate because I think at the end of the day that parliament should control its own elections - the fact that that's the view overwhelmingly of the Scottish Parliament should prevail as well."

Discussion will continue, added Mr Salmond, and a consultation will be carried out.

More than 140,000 ballot papers were rejected in the May elections.

New recommendations

Canadian elections expert Ron Gould was called in to investigate.

His report was scathing in parts and recommendations included the creation of a new post of chief returning officer for Scotland.

He also issued a call for the Scottish Parliament and local government elections to be held on separate days, with different ballot papers to stop confusion.

Two weeks ago, the Scottish Parliament agreed that Holyrood should have more say over the legislative and executive conduct of Scottish elections.

Scottish Liberal Democrat chief whip Robert Brown said: "It is very disappointing that the UK Government appear to be rejecting the case for devolving responsibility for Scottish Parliament elections to Holyrood.

"However, I have to say that the first minister's case would be much more robust had he supported Liberal Democrat calls to change the way MSPs are elected to STV and demonstrated that there was a real purpose in shifting responsibility to the Scottish Parliament."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "The Scottish Parliament wants responsibility for the administration of its own elections.

"Just a fortnight ago, Alex Salmond voted for this option.

"I trust that he made it expressly clear to the Secretary of State that it is only the administration about which he has a mandate to negotiate.

"If this was indeed the case, then we need a much clearer explanation from the Labour Party about why their attitude appears much cooler on a UK-wide level."

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23 Oct 07 |  Scotland


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