I recently shared the privilege of listening to former East Lothian MSP Iain Gray reflect on his 20 years in the Scottish Parliament.

He provided his audience with a very clear description of why and how the institution came into being, as well as relating what he perceived to be its high and low points since establishment.

During his insightful talk, Iain remarked on the reticence of Holyrood committees to challenge the Scottish Government.

He contrasted this with the much more critical approach adopted by Westminster’s select committees, where members from the ruling – as well as opposition parties – frequently question official policies and actions.

On being asked to explain this difference, he noted that the convenors (chairs) of Holyrood’s parliamentary committees were appointed by the First Minister and party leaders, while at Westminster they were elected by all its MPs.

Never having been a local councillor, Iain Gray would not be drawn on whether such a procedural improvement might be usefully introduced at local level too.

The analogy, though, is all too obvious.

The quality of local policy debate and executive accountability would likewise be hugely improved if East Lothian councillors were allowed to elect committee convenors on their merits rather than (as at Holyrood) have them imposed from above.

Surely we have some public-spirited local councillors willing to champion this simple democratic reform?

Angus Tulloch