EQUAL marriage laws for gay people may not pass in Scotland if the legislation was going through Holyrood today due to the “toxic” level of debate, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The former first minister made the comments as she appeared alongside former deputy first minister Jim Wallace, who is now a LibDem peer, at an event organised by the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh.

They reflected on the 25 years since the Scottish Parliament was established, discussing how politics had evolved and what the future may hold.

In comments reported by The Scotsman, Sturgeon said she was not sure that some policies which the Holyrood parliament has approved in the past would be approved again today.

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The former SNP leader told the event: "The culture, at times, in politics is downright unpleasant. It's downright toxic."

She went on: "I was the minister that took through minimum unit pricing. I don't think that would get through and onto the statute book today.

“I'm not even convinced equal marriage would – certainly not without a much more toxic debate – get there today.

"So a lot of it comes back to, how do we fix that underlying problem of we've just lost our way in how to debate things rationally and properly."

Same-sex marriage was made legal in Scotland in early 2014.

The National: John Swinney, aka The Man Who Wasn’t There

The SNPs’ new leadership under John Swinney (above) has given assurances that there will be no rolling back of rights amid concerns following the appointment of Kate Forbes as Deputy First Minister.

Previously, Forbes’s socially conservative views, including saying she would have voted against gay marriage, have sparked controversy.

Elsewhere at the Edinburgh event, Sturgeon said the Scottish Parliament’s committee system should be “beefed up” considerably, to give ministers more challenging scrutiny.

The former first minister said she was not suitably “terrified” when she was called to appear before Holyrood committee conveners when she was in government.

She said: “I’m not sure it’s an experience that was as terrifying as it should have been for a minister or a first minister.

“And therefore I do agree with you, I think the committee system, which is right in theory, needs beefing up considerably.”

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She suggested Holyrood should follow the example of Westminster, where committee chairmen are elected by the whole parliament.

This would break “party political divisions” on committees, she said.

Sturgeon went on to say there is now “much greater polarisation, toxicity” in Scottish politics.

She also said Holyrood could benefit from more “spontaneity” in debates, saying speeches are often scripted and short.

Wallace said he doubted that committees would hold ministers’ “feet to the fire” in the same way as they did in earlier parliamentary sessions.

He recently called for “significantly more” MSPs to sit in the parliamentary chamber at Holyrood, saying that since the Parliament has more powers, the current number of 129 MSPs should be reviewed.