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The Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, which was passed by the Parliament in June, includes a number of measures aimed at widening access to council membership, including the introduction of a severance scheme for councillors who choose to stand down at the next election.
The first thing to stress is that the Parliament has accepted the principle of one-off severance arrangements for councillors as we enter a radically different era for local government. There is a direct link between the principle of one-off severance payments and that of widening access to local government. That is why, early in the new year, we will publish the councillors remuneration progress group's report along with the widening access progress group's report.
It is not for me to comment on any of the exaggerated media reports or even to respond to the exaggerated rhetoric that Mr Fraser chooses
A principle is involved. If the Conservatives are so concerned about one-off severance payments, I look forward to hearing an assurance that no Conservative councillor in Scotland will accept any payment.