A former first minister has called for the creation of a second chamber at Holyrood as an "official check" on the Scottish Parliament.

Jack McConnell, Scotland's first minister from 2001 to 2007, wants the new chamber to take the form of a Consultative Assembly.

He stressed it would not have a legislative function but would provide more accountability and give councils more say.

In an interview with The Herald newspaper, the Labour peer said there should be a national debate on setting up the assembly.

He said: "You could have one representative for each of the local authorities, maybe two for each city.

"You could have a select number of representatives of business and, similarly, the voluntary sector.

"I would have a role for the local authorities at the centre. They have been disempowered for the last 20 years. There is a need to revitalise, re-energise their voice.

"We would not create a new set of politicians," Lord McConnell added. "The Scottish Parliament would be legislatively bound to listen to them.

"It would act as an official check on the work of Holyrood."

He said the assembly would sit part-time and meet to discuss big issues such as the Scottish budget or key legislation.

Membership would be limited to under 100 and an allowance could be paid for attendance.

Lord McConnell said the extra level of scrutiny is needed to deal with "a gap in terms of accountability and engagement 20 years on from the creation of the Scottish Parliament".