LEGISLATION aiming to give Holyrood the power to split the role of Scotland’s top law officer into two separate jobs is set to move to the next stage after being backed by MPs.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry KC introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon seeking to give the Scottish Parliament powers to radically alter the role of the Lord Advocate.

The current post holder Dorothy Bain KC serves as both a public prosecutor and legal adviser to the Scottish Government, but Cherry’s plans would allow these roles to be separated.

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The Edinburgh South West MP told the Commons that the role being combined into one “deprives” the Scottish Government of the benefit of advice from a lawyer with “shared political persuasion”.

The legislation, if passed, would amend the Scotland Act 1998 to give Holyrood powers, with the final decision on the role of the law officers with MSPs in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Law Officers Devolution Bill will now have its second reading on March 22 after being agreed by MPs.

Ten Minute Rule Bills are a form of Private Members’ Bill which allows backbench MPs to introduce legislation to the House of Commons and make the case for the bill in a speech lasting up to 10 minutes.

Cherry’s was agreed by MPs in the Commons without opposition, and therefore is taken to have had its first reading.

“The present Lord Advocate performs both roles and both legal scholars and politicians are becoming increasingly concerned that this may give rise to a conflict of interest or at least the perception of a conflict of interest,” Cherry told MPs, adding that her legislation was not a criticism of any current or former office holders, or the SNP Government.

“The dual role of the Lord Advocate is a historical anachronism which pre-dates devolution,” she added.

“The dual role was rubber stamped by the devolution settlement and to date no Conservative or Labour government has attempted reform.

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“I believe reform is long overdue.”

The Scottish Government has committed to review the role of the Lord Advocate by the end of the current parliament in 2026, she added.

“However, because of reservations under the Scotland Act, it’s not open to the Scottish Parliament to create a new law officer or a new public prosecutor, that is why my bill is necessary.

“Given that criminal and civil justice are devolved matters, it is only right that the Scottish Parliament decide how best to reform the role of the Lord Advocate.”

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The SNP’s 2021 manifesto pledged to consult on the dual role of the Lord Advocate.

Cherry told MPs that a number of events in recent years had exposed tension in the role of the Lord Advocate, such as the investigation into Alex Salmond, the Rangers malicious prosecution scandal and the current police investigation into the SNP’s finances.

“If we are to take at face value assurances from the United Kingdom Government that they don’t wish to undermine the devolved settlement and that they respect the powers that have been devolved, then I believe they should leave it to Scotland’s Parliament to carry out the task of reforming the role of Scotland’s law officers,” Cherry added.