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Calls for remote working to be retained as MSPs to be sworn in at Holyrood

Newly elected MSP Emma Roddick
Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick

As MSPs are formally sworn in at Holyrood today, calls have been made for remote working to be retained even after the pandemic to allow members to remain in their constituencies.

Newly elected Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick, who is the youngest MSP to take the oath today, backed calls from former Labour leader Johann Lamont on this morning’s Good Morning Scotland radio show. 

As 129 members are sworn in today, 34 will not be returning, including Ms Lamont, who has stepped down after holding a seat since 1999.

The new make up of the parliament will however be Scotland’s most diverse, as more woman have been elected than ever before, as well as first woman of colour, the SNP’s Glasgow Kelvin MSP Kaukab Stewart.

Ms Lamont said earlier she felt that parliament had become slightly “stuck in the mud”.

Johann Lamont
Johann Lamont

She said: “I think there is a debate about the extent to which people should be able to engage remotely.

“I heard (former presiding officer and WestScotland MSP) Ken Macintosh  earlier talking about the loss in debate because you can’t intervene, but I think there are some practical things around if you are not going to be in a debate but you can vote, can you vote remotely?

“I think that kind of thing, being open to those possibilities, is important.”

‘Particularly pertinent’ to Highlands and islands

Ms Lamont’s calls were echoed by Miss Roddick, whose list seat covers the largest land mass in the country.

Travel demands and the lack of opportunity for remote working were cited by departing Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Gail Ross as a factor in her decision to stand down.

Miss Roddick said: “I think it is particularly pertinent for my region because it is massive and far away from Edinburgh.

“I have been saying this since I got in that we need to, not only retain the remote working access, but improve it because at the moment you can’t really make interventions in debate.

“I want to see people who are staying in their region for whatever reason – it may be family, caring or just having constituency work – being able to fully participate in debate.”

Earlier this week, Miss Roddick highlighted the financial struggles of becoming an MSP such as incurring expenses before her first pay day.

She also said she felt she would not have been able to campaign for the seat had it not been for technology due to the financial strain it may have incurred.

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