Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 18:22 UK

MP standard rules 'need updating'

Jim Dyer
Dr Dyer said Scotland was ahead on standards issues

Rules on standards for MPs need to be "dragged into the 21st Century", Scotland's outgoing parliamentary standards watchdog has said.

Dr Jim Dyer said the Scottish Parliament had responded more quickly to public demand for transparency.

His comments came after a series of controversies over the expenses of Westminster politicians.

Dr Dyer's most high-profile decision was ruling that Wendy Alexander broke the rules on registering donations.

Ms Alexander quit as Scottish Labour leader amid on-going questions over the late declaration of donations to her leadership campaign on her register of interests.

Adult films

Dr Dyer told BBC Scotland's Politics Show that, in his six years as the Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, he had never uncovered any "major corruption", but expressed surprise that MSPs were not more aware of the pitfalls.

He said: "There have been problems and some high-profile cases, but it tends to be more a kind of lazy or sometimes arrogant attitude to the rules, 'the rules don't apply to me or the rules are there to be got round', rather than anything more sinister.

Dr Dyer also praised the independent review which recommended the scheme where some MSPs can claim interest on mortgages for second homes in Edinburgh should end.

Recent cases at Westminster included a complaint over Labour minister Tony McNulty's second home expenses, and another into Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's use of MPs' second home allowances.

Mrs Smith has also had to deal with a row over one of her parliamentary expenses claims that included costs for two adult films, hired through her television broadband package by her husband Richard Timney.

"I think Scotland has responded more quickly to the public requirements for transparency," said Dr Dyer.

"Generally, Scotland is ahead on these standards issues, and Westminster really needs to be dragged into the 21st Century."



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11 Mar 08 |  Scotland


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