Code of Conduct for MSPs - Volume 3, Section 1: Registration of Interests

Guidance

Statement of intent

The following statement sets out the approach that the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee agreed to take in complaint cases where a member has sought and acted on the Standards clerks’ advice when registering an interest or reporting a change to a controlled transaction. When it was developed it was envisaged that successor committees would take the terms of this statement into account when considering complaints.

“If a member is uncertain about whether or not to register an interest, or to report a change to a controlled transaction the Standards clerks’ advice should be sought (in writing, where possible).

Where the SPPA Committee agrees with the conclusion of a Stage 2 complaint report from the Ethical tandards Commissioner that a breach of the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006 has occurred (in relation to Section 3(1)section 5(2) or section 8A of that Act), the SPPA Committee will take into account whether the member followed any advice provided to the member by the Standards clerks (on whether that interest or change to the controlled transaction required registration) when considering whether or not to recommend sanctions. (see Section 9.43 of Volume 3)

The Committee will also take into account whether the circumstances as disclosed by the member to the Standards clerks (and upon which the Standards clerks have given advice) are the same as those disclosed to the Ethical Standards Commissioner during investigation of the complaint.

Where the member has sought advice from the Standards clerks within 30 days of acquiring an interest or the change to the controlled transaction and has acted in accordance with that advice (having fully disclosed the circumstances of the interest) the SPPA Committee would not generally expect to recommend sanctions on any breach found by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.

Members should be aware that this statement of intent does not prevent the Ethical Standards Commissioner or the courts from finding that a member has breached the Act.

Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee,

8 September 2009 (Session 3) - updated in January 2016 (Session 4).”

Submission of written statements and written notices 

Members may notify the Standards Clerks of additions and amendments to, or deletions from their register of interests in signed hard copy or electronically by email. Given that the 2006 Act provides that members are personally responsible for registering interests and that failure to do so is a criminal offence, emails must be sent direct from members’ personal Scottish Parliament email address and not by support staff through “on behalf of” email.

Written statement templates and associated guidance for registration of new interests are provided in hard copy in Volume 4 and are available electronically on the Parliament’s website.