MP says ‘discrimination’ over meeting room row

A row has broken out over MPs not being allowed to use a meeting room at the Scottish Parliament
A row has broken out over MPs not being allowed to use a meeting room at the Scottish Parliament
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The row over a meeting room has prompted the town’s MP to accuse the Scottish Parliament of discrimination.

After not being allowed to use a meeting room at the Scottish Parliament last week, the Lindsay Roy MP has written to the Scottsh Parliament’s Presiding Officer, to voice his feelings.

Last week, the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee met in Edinburgh. Mr Roy is a member of the committee which regularly meets outwith Westminster as it tours Scotland.

The committee had expected to be allowed to use an empty meeting room in Holyrood for their latest meeting while taking evidence in Edinburgh, however access was denied by the Presiding Officer - Glenrothes MSP Tricia Marwick.

In his letter, Mr Roy responds to correspondence, telling Mrs Marwick: “I note with extreme regret that you felt unable, as Presiding Officer, to sanction a meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee in the Scottish Parliament on the basis of a long standing principle.”

The MP continues: “Given that the House of Commons Committees (one jointly with representatives from the Second Chamber) have met in Holyrood since 2007), how can refusal be justified on the basis of a long standing principle?

“Can you please clarify where in the Devolution Settlement or elsewhere in Scottish Parliamentary documentation this long standing principle is codified – and when it was produced?”

Mr Roy argues over the principle of Holyrood facilities being ‘for Scottish Parliamentary purposes only’, that being the reason for refusal from the Presiding Officer. He maintains Westminster committees have used facilities at Holyrood in the past.

Mr Roy pointed out: “What could be more central to Scottish Parliamentary purposes than witness sessions on the “Referendum on Separation for Scotland: Unanswered Questions”?

Mr Roy went on to accuse the Scottish Parliament of possible discrimination over the denied access to Holyrood to hold evidence sessions.

He told the Gazette, ‘’I have learned that the Welsh Affairs Committee was permitted to meet at the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff and the Northern Irish Affairs Committee at Stormont.

‘’These were for formal evidence sessions exactly the same as the Scottish Affairs Committee wished to hold at Holyrood.

‘’This begs the questions why there is such inconsistency and where the ‘’long-standing principle’’ referred to by Tricia Marwick has come from.

‘’It would appear to me that the Scottish Affairs Committee is being discriminated against,” said Mr Roy.

A statement issued by the Scottish Parliament this week said: “The Parliament has no further comment to make on this issue.”