Chapter 12: Committee Procedures

Rule 12.1 Conveners of committees

1. Each committee shall have a convener who shall convene and chair the meetings of the committee.

2. The Parliament shall decide, for each committee, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau—

(a) the political party whose members shall be eligible to be convener of the committee; or

(b) that the convener shall be chosen from the members not representing any political party.

3. The Parliament may, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau, decide that all committees shall have a deputy convener.

4. If the Parliament decides that all committees shall have a deputy convener, the Parliament shall decide, for each committee, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau—

(a) the political party whose members shall be eligible to be deputy convener of the committee; or

(b) that the deputy convener shall be chosen from the members not representing any political party.

5. In making a proposal under paragraph 2 or 4, the Parliamentary Bureau shall have regard to the balance of political parties in the Parliament.

6. At the first meeting of a committee after it is established by the Parliament, members of the committee shall choose a convener. That meeting shall be chaired by the Oldest Committee Member until a convener is chosen. Once a convener is chosen, the convener shall take the chair.

7. The convener of a committee shall be a member of that committee (other than a committee substitute) who shall be chosen in accordance with the decision of the Parliament under paragraph 2.

8. The convener of a committee shall hold office for the duration of the committee unless—

(a) the convener resigns from that office by intimating resignation to the Clerk;

(b) the convener is removed from that office by a decision taken by an absolute majority of the committee on a motion under paragraph 8A; or

(c) the convener ceases to be a member of the Parliament or of that committee otherwise than by virtue of a dissolution.

8A. A member of a committee may by motion propose that the convener of the committee be removed from office.

8B. Where notice of such a motion has been given and it has received the support of at least one other member of the committee, it shall be placed on the agenda for, and taken at, the first meeting of the committee that is at least 2 days after the day on which it received the necessary support(excluding any days when the office of the Clerk is not open).

9. Where the convener of a committee ceases to hold office, the committee shall choose another member of the committee (other than a committee substitute) to be the convener in accordance with the decision of the Parliament under paragraph 2. If it is not possible for the committee to choose a convener in accordance with that decision, the Parliament shall, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau, make a further decision under paragraph 2 in relation to the committee, and the choice of a convener in accordance with paragraph 7 shall proceed accordingly.

10. Where, in accordance with a decision of the Parliament under paragraph 3, a committee is to have a deputy convener, that person shall be a member of that committee (other than a committee substitute) who is chosen by the members of that committee in accordance with the decision of the Parliament under paragraph 4. Paragraphs 8, 8A, 8B and 9 shall apply to the deputy convener of a committee as they apply to the convener of a committee with such modifications as are appropriate. Where a deputy convener carries out the functions of a convener that deputy shall have all the functions of a convener under these Rules for that purpose.

11. Where a committee does not have a deputy convener, or where the deputy convener is not available for any meeting of the committee, or leaves the chair for part of any meeting, or is at any time other than at a meeting of a committee unable to act as deputy convener, the functions of deputy convener shall, so far as required by this Rule, be carried out by a Temporary Convener chosen under paragraph 15. When a Temporary Convener carries out the functions of a deputy convener the Temporary Convener shall have all the functions of a convener under these Rules for that purpose.

12. Where the convener is not available for any meeting of the committee, or leaves the chair for part of any meeting, that meeting, or that part of the meeting, shall be chaired by the deputy convener. Where at any time other than during a meeting of a committee a convener is unable to act as convener, the deputy convener shall carry out the functions of the convener.

13. Where the office of convener is vacant, a meeting of the committee shall be convened by the deputy convener and that meeting shall be chaired by the deputy convener for the purpose of choosing a convener.

14. When the deputy convener or the Oldest Committee Member chairs a meeting or part of a meeting of a committee, that person shall have all the functions of a convener under these Rules for the purposes of conducting the business of that meeting or that part of a meeting.

15. Any reference to a Temporary Convener is to a member of a committee (other than a committee substitute) chosen under this paragraph. Where a committee does not have a deputy convener or in the other circumstances detailed in paragraph 11, a Temporary Convener shall be chosen by a committee at a meeting of the committee—

(a) where the convener is not available for any meeting or leaves the chair for part of any meeting; or

(b) where at any time other than at a meeting of a committee a convener is unable to act as convener and the oldest member of the committee (other than a committee substitute) considers it necessary that a Temporary Convener be appointed.

16. For the purpose of choosing a Temporary Convener under—

(a) paragraph 15(a), the meeting shall be chaired by the convener or Oldest Committee Member; or

(b) paragraph 15(b), the meeting shall be convened by the oldest member of the committee (other than a committee substitute) and shall be chaired by the Oldest Committee Member.

17. When a Temporary Convener is chosen by a committee, the Temporary Convener shall take the chair and shall exercise all functions of the convener of that committee until the convener or, where the committee has a deputy convener, the deputy convener is again able to act.

18. When the oldest member of a committee convenes a meeting of a committee, that member shall have all the functions of a convener under these Rules for that purpose.

19. Any reference to the Oldest Committee Member means the oldest member of the committee other than a committee substitute—

(a) who is present at any meeting; and

(b) who has indicated to the Clerk that that member agrees to chair the meeting.

20. This Rule is subject to any other Rule making express provision about conveners of committees.

Rule 12.1A Acting conveners

1. This Rule applies where a convener of a committee is, or is likely to be, absent from proceedings of the committee for an extended period of maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave.

2. The Parliament may, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau-

(a) appoint a temporary committee member; and

(b) decide that an acting convener shall be chosen on a temporary basis for that committee, for a period of time to be specified in the motion.

3. In proposing a member to be a temporary committee member, the Parliamentary Bureau shall have regard to the balance of political parties in the Parliament.

4. Where the Parliament makes a decision under paragraph 2(b), the committee shall choose another member of the committee (who may be the temporary committee member appointed under paragraph 2(a) but may not be a committee substitute) to be the acting convener.

5. When choosing an acting convener the committee shall do so in accordance with the decision of the Parliament under Rule 12.1.2 in relation to the choice of convener. If it is not possible for the committee to choose an acting convener in accordance with that decision, the Parliament shall, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau, make a further decision under Rule 12.1.2 in relation to the committee, and the choice of an acting convener in accordance with paragraph 4 shall proceed accordingly.

6. The period of time specified in the motion under paragraph 2–

(a) shall, as far as possible, correspond to the period of time for which the convener is likely to be absent; and

(b) may subsequently be varied by Parliament on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau.

7. During the period of time specified in the motion under paragraph 2-

(a) the acting convener shall have all the functions of a convener under these Rules for the purposes of conducting the business of the committee;

(b) the convener shall continue to hold office and be a committee member;

(c) the convener may continue to receive committee papers;

(d) the convener shall not participate in committee meetings or any other business of the committee or arrange for a committee substitute under Rule 12.2A to participate in their place;

(e) references in Rule 12.1.12 to the convener shall include references to the acting convener; and

(f) the temporary committee member appointed under paragraph 2(a) shall-

(i) have all the functions of a committee member, including the right to attend and participate in committee meetings (or parts of meetings) held in private and the right to vote in any division; and

(ii) be regarded as a committee member for the purposes of these Rules.

8. At the end of the period of time specified in the motion under paragraph 2-

(a) the acting convener shall cease to hold office;

(b) the convener shall resume office again and the restrictions described in paragraph 7(d) shall no longer apply; and

(c) the temporary committee member appointed under paragraph 2(a) shall cease to be a committee member.

Rule 12.2 Procedure in committee

1. A committee shall not commence consideration of any business or vote if the number of committee members present (including the convener or deputy convener if that person is in the chair) is fewer than 3.

2. Any member of the Parliament may attend any meeting, or part of a meeting, of any committee held in public, but if that member—

(a) is not a member of the committee;

(b) is a member of the committee and a committee substitute is attending in that member’s place; or

(c) is a member of the committee but is prevented from exercising the rights of a committee member by Rule 9.13A,
that member may participate in the proceedings of the committee only if invited to do so by the convener and may not vote.

3. Where a committee, except a Private Bill Committee or a Hybrid Bill Committee, is considering any of the business mentioned in Rule 6.2.2(b), (c) or (d), the following persons (if not members of the committee) shall be entitled to participate in the proceedings of the committee but may not vote, namely—

(a) in the case of a Bill, the member in charge of the Bill; and

(b) in the case of a Bill that is not an Executive Bill or in the case of any other business, the member of the Scottish Executive or junior Scottish Minister who has general responsibility for the subject matter with which the business is concerned.

Rule 12.2A Participation by substitutes

1. Where a committee member—

(a) is unavailable for a committee meeting (or any committee activity taking place other than at a meeting) because of illness, family circumstances, adverse travel conditions beyond the member’s control, a requirement to attend to other Parliamentary business or urgent constituency business; or

(b) has ceased to hold that office and a replacement committee member has yet to be appointed,
a committee substitute from the same political party may, subject to Rule 9.13A, participate in place of that member.

2. Where a committee member is prevented by Rule 9.13A from participating in that capacity in the consideration by the committee of a proposal or Bill, a committee substitute from the same political party or a Bill substitute may, subject to Rule 9.13A, participate in place of that member in that consideration.

2A. Where the committee mentioned in Rule 6.4 is considering whether the conduct of a member of that Committee is in accordance with these Rules or with any Code of Conduct for members, or any related question of sanctions, a committee substitute from the same political party may participate in place of that member in that consideration.

3. Where a substitute participates in place of a committee member in a committee meeting (or other committee activity) under—

(a) paragraph 1(a), the committee member may not also participate in that capacity during any part of the same committee meeting (or activity);

(b) paragraph 2, the committee member may participate in that capacity during any other part of the same meeting (or activity) which does not involve consideration of the proposal or Bill;

(c) paragraph 2A, the committee member may participate in that capacity during any other part of the same meeting (or activity) which does not involve consideration of the matters referred to in that paragraph.

4. Where a substitute participates in the work of a committee by virtue of paragraph 1, 2 or 2A, that substitute shall (except where these Rules expressly provide otherwise)—

(a) have all the functions of a committee member, including the right to attend and participate in committee meetings (or parts of meetings) held in private and the right to a vote in any division; and

(b) be regarded as a committee member for the purposes of these Rules.

5. Where a substitute participates in place of a committee member who holds the office of convener, acting convener, deputy convener or Temporary Convener, the substitute shall not have any of the functions of that office.

Rule 12.3 Committee meetings

1. A committee shall meet to consider such business on such days and at such times as it may from time to time decide, subject to any timetable specified in the business programme. The convener shall notify the Clerk, and the Clerk shall notify members in the Business Bulletin, of the agenda for each meeting.

2. A committee shall meet in Scotland at such place as it may decide, with the approval of the Parliamentary Bureau and the Conveners Group. A decision under this Rule shall, in the event of any disagreement between the Parliamentary Bureau and the Conveners Group, be referred to the Parliamentary corporation for a determination. The Parliamentary Bureau may require the Conveners Group to make a decision under this Rule within a specified period. If the Conveners Group does not make a decision within that period, the decision on the approval shall be made by the Parliamentary Bureau.

3. A committee meeting may be held on any day, whether a sitting day or not and whether within or outwith the normal Parliamentary week. Committee meetings shall not normally be held when the Parliament is in recess.

3A. Subject to paragraph 3B a meeting of a committee (other than a Private Bill Committee) shall not begin when a meeting of the Parliament is in progress, and a committee meeting that has begun shall be closed before, or suspended during, any period when a meeting of the Parliament is in progress. For the purpose of this paragraph, a meeting of the Parliament is not in progress during a suspension under Rule 7.4.1 or an adjournment under Rule 8.16.

3B. A meeting of a committee may be held when a meeting of the Parliament is in progress if the Parliament so decides on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau.

4. Committee meetings shall be held in public except as mentioned in paragraph 5.

5. All or part of a meeting of a committee may be held in private if the committee so decides. Any meeting at which a committee is considering any of the business mentioned in Rule 6.2.2(b), (c) or (d) shall be held in public except where, for the purpose of taking evidence, the committee decides that it is appropriate that the meeting, or part of the meeting, should be held in private.

Rule 12.4 Witnesses and documents

1. A committee may, in connection with any competent matter, invite any person—

(a) to attend its proceedings for the purpose of giving evidence; or

(b) to produce documents in that person’s custody or under that person’s control,
and may exercise the power conferred upon the Parliament by section 23 (power to call for witnesses and documents) to require any person to do so but subject to and in accordance with the terms of sections 23 and 24 (notice provisions in relation to witnesses and documents).

2. For the purposes of section 26(1), the convener of a committee may administer an oath or solemn affirmation to any person giving evidence in its proceedings and require that person to take an oath or make a solemn affirmation.

3. The committee shall arrange for the Parliamentary corporation to pay to persons whom it requires, and may arrange for the Parliamentary corporation to pay to persons whom it invites, to attend its proceedings to give evidence or to produce any documents such allowances and expenses as may be determined by the Parliament.

Rule 12.5 Sub-committees

1. A committee may establish one or more sub-committees, including a subcommittee for the purpose mentioned in Rule 6.14, with the approval of the Parliament on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau.

2. The remit of any sub-committee of a committee shall be such as is approved by the Parliament, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau, but shall not include any matter outwith the remit of that committee.

3. The membership of any sub-committee shall be determined by the Parliament on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau. The membership of a sub-committee of a committee shall be proposed by that committee to the Parliamentary Bureau. Normally only members of the committee (other than committee substitutes) may be members of a sub-committee of that committee but, if the committee so decides, members of other committees may be appointed as members of a sub-committee.

4. In considering the membership of a sub-committee, the committee shall have regard to the balance of political parties in the Parliament.

5. The convener of a sub-committee shall be a member of that sub-committee who shall be chosen by the members of the sub-committee.

6. The duration of a sub-committee shall be determined by the Parliament on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau.

7. A sub-committee shall report to the committee which established it.

8. Rules 6.3.5, 6.3A, 12.1.9 to 12.1.19, 12.1A, 12.2 to 12.4 and 12.6 shall apply in relation to the establishment, procedure and meetings of a sub-committee as they apply in relation to committees with such modifications as are appropriate.

Rule 12.6 Reporters

1. Any committee may appoint a committee member (other than a committee substitute) (referred to as “a reporter”) to report to it upon any competent matter within such time limit as the committee may determine. A committee may appoint different reporters to report to it upon different competent matters.

2. Each subject committee and the committee mentioned in Rule 6.9 shall appoint a committee member (other than a committee substitute) (referred to as a “European Reporter”) to bring to the attention of the committee any European Union (“EU”) issue, proposal for EU legislation, or implementation of European Communities or EU legislation, as he or she may determine is appropriate.

Rule 12.7 Advisers

1. A committee may, with the approval of the Parliamentary Bureau, issue directions to the Parliamentary corporation in connection with the appointment by the Parliamentary corporation of any person to inquire into and advise the committee or any sub-committee upon any competent matter. Different advisers may be appointed for different competent matters.

Rule 12.8 Reports of committees

1. Where a committee is to report any matter to the Parliament or another committee, it shall do so by lodging the report with the Clerk.

2. Where the report is addressed to the Parliament, the Clerk shall notify members of the date of publication. Where the report is addressed to another committee, the Clerk shall notify that committee that the report has been lodged.

3. Any committee report lodged with the Clerk shall be published by the Clerk.

Rule 12.9 Annual reports

1. Each mandatory or subject committee shall, as soon as practicable after the end of each Parliamentary year, submit a report to the Parliament containing details of its activities during that Parliamentary year, including details of its meetings and the number of times the committee has met in private, and how the committee has taken account of equal opportunities in its work. In the case of the Parliamentary year ending on the dissolution of the Parliament before an ordinary general election, each committee shall submit such a report before the Parliament is dissolved.

Rule 12.10 Travelling outwith the United Kingdom

1. A member of a committee who wishes to travel outwith the United Kingdom in connection with any competent matter which is before that committee shall require the prior approval of the Parliamentary Bureau and the Conveners Group. A decision under this Rule shall, in the event of any disagreement between the Parliamentary Bureau and the Conveners Group, be referred to the Parliamentary corporation for a determination. The Parliamentary Bureau may require the Conveners Group to make a decision under this Rule within a specified period. If the Conveners Group does not make a decision within that period, the decision on the approval shall be made by the Parliamentary Bureau.