Scotland’s independent think tank
Scotland’s independent think tank

A Blueprint for a More Effective Scottish Parliament


Veteran MSP’s proposals include paying Committee conveners and considering a cap on Ministers 

Reform Scotland, the non-partisan think tank, today published a paper written by Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, which aims to adjust the balance of power between Scotland’s legislative and executive branches.

The paper – A Blueprint for a More Effective Scottish Parliament – builds on work done by Lord Cameron of Locheil during his time as an MSP, and proposes a detailed series of reforms for implementation at the start of the next Scottish Parliament elections in May 2026.

It has been published to mark the 25th anniversary of the first sitting of the Scottish Parliament in May 1999.

Mr Fraser’s recommendations include:

  • Reviewing the number of Scottish Government Ministers, with a view to capping them in proportion to the number of MSPs
  • Consider whether 129 is the right number of MSPs given the increase in devolved responsibility since 1999
  • Electing, and paying a supplement to, Committee Conveners in order to enhance the status of the role and help separate the committees from the political parties

The full paper, with the recommendations, can be read here.

Commenting, Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“The Scottish Parliament was once seen as a beacon of democracy, but now finds itself in a complex web of political polarisation and institutional stagnation. Despite the various achievements throughout the Scottish Parliament’s first quarter of a century, it now stands at a crossroads, grappling with a crisis of confidence and effectiveness. Reform is not only desirable but essential if the institution wants to continue its promise to serve the people.

“The ambition to create a more European-style legislature which would encourage collaborative working and build consensus has not been fulfilled. Instead, Holyrood now mirrors the Westminster confrontational dynamic. 

“The influence of party politics within committees has diluted their effectiveness, turning them into arenas for partisan debates and exchanges rather than a place of constructive communication and consensus-building. The checks and balances system in the Scottish Parliament has been seen to show multiple flaws, especially in the formation and scrutiny of legislation. 

“Reforms are necessary to restore confidence in Holyrood.”

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Chairman of Reform Scotland and former First Minister of Scotland, said:

“Murdo Fraser and I have our differences. My solutions to these problems would not be exactly the same as those he outlines in his pamphlet. But Reform Scotland is here to encourage and stimulate debate and I welcome his willingness to address these issues and begin a debate with some concrete proposals.

“This is the time for serious review of these original arrangements. Previous efforts have not gone far enough. I hope that this pamphlet does generate debate but also action to rebuild the Scottish Parliament into an institution that we can be proud of once again.”