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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK
Pledge to rethink cut in MSPs
John Reid
Dr John Reid confirmed no decision has been made
The UK Government has promised to reconsider proposals to cut the number of members of the Scottish Parliament.

The year-old parliament was set up with 129 MSPs but under devolution legislation it was always envisaged that number would fall.

However, Scottish Secretary, Dr John Reid, said the "door is open on the matter".

Roseanna Cunningham
Roseanna Cunningham: "Let MSPs decide"
Dr Reid told the Scottish Grand Committee, meeting at Westminster, that he would take a ''pragmatic rather than a dogmatic view" about the future size of the Scottish Parliament.

Proposed boundary changes would see a cut in Scottish MPs at Westminster, with a potential knock-on effect for Holyrood which could see more than 20 MSPs losing their seats.

But a growing number of MSPs have argued that any such move would make it difficult for the Scottish Parliament to function properly in future, particularly in finding enough MSPs to staff committees.

The Scottish National Party, which has opposed any cuts, has called a debate at Westminster on the issue, because it has been reserved to the UK parliament.

But justice and equality spokeswoman, Roseanna Cunningham MP, said it should be up to MSPs to decide the size of the Edinburgh parliament.

She said: "What would be best of all was if the Scottish Parliament was to have the final say.

"It will not be long before there are no members of this parliament sitting in the Scottish Parliament and after all it is the members of the Scottish Parliament who have the very best reasons to know the truth of their own workload."

Dr Reid indicated that he was open to persuasion on the matter but accused the SNP of manufacturing a row on an issue which did not need to be decided immediately.

He said: "The urgency of raising this is because the SNP have decided there is a general election and they'd better turn up at Westminster.

"And it is in answer to what used to be the burning question, the 'West Lothian Question', it is now the 'Westminster Question'. Why send the SNP to Westminster at all?

"That is the pity, that such an important issue should have been dealt with in such a fashion."

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09 Jul 99 | Scottish Parliament opening
Scotland passes new political milestone
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