Letters: The Scottish Parliament also needs a Recall Bill

David Cameron. Picture: PA
David Cameron. Picture: PA
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The principle of a Recall Bill, allowing people limited powers to kick out their MPs if they misbehave, is clearly to be welcomed and is one that should be introduced for the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill as outlined in the Queen’s Speech would see constituents able to sack their MP if they are sentenced to up to 12 months in jail. MPs are already removed if they are jailed for more than a year.

Voters could also trigger a by-election if the House of Commons resolves that an MP has engaged in “serious wrongdoing”. This would be forced if more than 10% of constituents signed a petition over an eight-week period after the Commons ruled an MP could face recall.

And here lies the problem, the final say would still rest with a committee of MPs, meaning it would not be true recall as it is understood in other countries, where any politician can be recalled if a certain proportion of their constituents sign a petition.

The most famous case of recall being used was in California in 2003, when more than the necessary 12% of voters signed a petition to cause a recall vote that led to Gray Davis being replaced by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Relying on MPs to police one of their own is akin to turkeys voting for Christmas and while it should certainly be introduced for the Scottish Parliament, it should not be done so along such fundamentally flawed lines.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Too sensitive SNP over-react to criticism

Headlines scream of ‘SNP fury at Kim Jong-Il jibe’ after Alistair Darling’s little poke at the SNP’s dear leader.

Cries of ‘shameful, disgraceful, puerile’ and demands for apologies can be heard braying from every nationalist quarter.

Day in and day out we hear of Westminster snobs, Tory toffs and Eton posh boys, not to mention the BBC producer who was called a ‘gauleiter’ by Wee Eck for not allowing him on a sports panel.

A leading national journalist, who makes no secret of the fact that he is no friend of Alec Salmond or the SNP, was called a Quisling by them. Quisling was the fascist traitor who betrayed Norway to the Nazis in the second world war and whose name has become synonymous with treachery.

The rule seems to be that it is OK for the SNP to hurl criticism and abuse at anyone speaking up for the Union, but anyone criticising the SNP and their politburo can expect the full venom of the faithful to be directed at them.

The hypocrisy of the SNP knows no bounds and once again it seems they do protest too much.

Donald Lewis, Beech Hill, Gifford, East Lothian

Tram launch was a chance to celebrate

What on Earth got into the mindset of those souls who were responsible for the historic return of Edinburgh’s trams?

Our family came up from south Britain for a week’s holiday in the capital and were convinced that there would be some spectacular inaugural ceremony at the end of our week.

Of all the interests that were on offer to tourists and residents alike, the return of the trams was going to be la creme de la creme. Would it be a pre-Festival festival? Would Princes Street be bedecked in saltires and tartan and how many pipe bands would be playing or marching proudly in front of our shiny new transport system, designed to ease our sclerotic roads and save the planet?

Oh dear, once again the authorities, having lost their civic confidence over the fiscal farce that preceded the great day, didn’t dare expose themselves to the risks of international ignominy and instead opted for an absurdly early morning launch while most normal people were still abed.

Pipe band? Ceilidh? Party spirit? Forget it! As each new tram slipped down St Andrew Street and apologetically trundled and screeched along Princes Street, the startled onlookers were underwhelmed. There wasn’t a tram flag to be seen; no banners, no ceremony, no castle guns booming out a welcome! How was this possible?

It was as if the great Scottish death wish had descended across the city in an attempt to hush up the shameful act of environmental rejuvenation. What a golden opportunity to present Edinburgh and Scotland, to the world, instead of meekly turning away from what should have been one of the world’s most celebrated transport u-turns.

Let’s hope that Glasgow will flourish and lead the way when the Commonwealth Games are inaugurated.

Jack Guthrie, Camberley, Surrey

Help end the secrecy behind animal lab tests

The public has a unique opportunity to help end the secret suffering of animals in laboratories. The government has launched a public consultation on the future of Section 24 - the notorious secrecy clause in the law on animal experiments that has long been used to prevent even the most basic information about vivisection from being released.

But only one of the options provided in the consultation will genuinely end the secrecy. This is Option 3 - a full repeal of the secrecy clause with no additional mechanisms to restrict openness.

By sparing a little time to complete the consultation (which mainly takes the form of a tick-box questionnaire), the public can help put an end to the secrecy, and pave the way for informed public debate about animal research. The consultation closes on June 13, so time is already running out. For guidance on how to complete the consultation, please visit www.animalaid.org.uk/go/S24, email isobel@animalaid.co.uk, or phone 01732-364 546 ext. 233.

Isobel Hutchinson, Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent