Labour suggests MSPs under police investigation should be suspended

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Labour has suggested members of the Scottish Parliament who are under police investigation should be suspended amid inquiries into SNP finances.

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire referenced the police investigation into the SNP’s finances in the Commons, saying First Minister Humza Yousaf should suspend MSPs who are the subject of police inquiries.

She also raised questions about the party’s auditors.

Speaking during a session of questions related to the business of the House of Commons, Ms Debbonaire said: “It’s emerged that the SNP’s auditors have also resigned from doing their Westminster group’s accounts as well as the national party’s.

“Now, I understand that senior SNP figures failed to inform the authorities here about that. Could the leader tell us if she knows if this is correct? Because this is serious, it’s taxpayers’ money.

“Can I ask the Leader of the House to intervene to make sure that SNP finances that provide money for some of their political staffing here in Parliament have been properly accounted for and used for the purposes for which it is intended?

“Does she agree with me that as the police investigation spreads, the First Minister, leader of the SNP, should take a basic step of suspending members of the Scottish Parliament who are the subject of police inquiries?

“Isn’t it time the SNP came clean about who knew what and when? The Scottish people deserve much better than this.”

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt: “(Ms Debbonaire) raises the matter of the SNP and short money. And although we all enjoy a joke at the SNP’s expense, these are really serious matters.

“I shan’t comment on her suggestion about people being suspended under police investigation, to save her blushes, it might have included the leader of the Opposition (Sir Keir Starmer) who has been in that camp before.

“But these matters are not a matter for me. But I understand that unless the SNP have audited accounts by March 31 they will lose their short money after the April payment.

“I understand also that Ipsa (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) may also have considerations to make. I think the SNP’s membership will feel rightly let down by this, similar to how the rest of Scotland will feel with the SNP’s poor stewardship of public money.”

Short money refers to financial assistance given to opposition parties to carry out their duties in the House of Commons.

Ms Mordaunt later noted it had been “a very painful week” for the SNP, adding amid laughter from MPs: “For some time now, BBC Politics Scotland has resembled an episode of Taggart.”

The SNP says it is incorrect to claim that it did not inform House of Commons officials that its auditors resigned. The party says its Westminster group is in regular contact with House authorities.

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