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Chamber and committees

Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Agenda: Decision on Taking Business in Private, Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill: Stage 2


Decision on Taking Business in Private

The Convener (Gordon Lindhurst)

Good morning, and welcome to the sixth meeting in 2021 of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee. We have received apologies from Colin Beattie; John Mason will take his place this morning.

The first item on the agenda is a decision by the committee on whether to take item 3 in private. If members do not agree to do that, they should type that in the chat box—indeed, throughout the meeting, they should type in the chat box if they wish to raise something with me. Members who are not members of the committee should raise matters through the clerks.

We are agreed that we will take item 3 in private.

I see that there is a point of order from Maurice Golden.

Maurice Golden (West Scotland) (Con)

On a point of order, convener. I seek your guidance on a series of eight tweets on 18 February by Andy Wightman, who is a member of the committee. I should make it clear that seven of those tweets are completely fair and representative of his views. However, the eighth tweet referred to a private email between committee members and the clerks. The tweet stated that the

“same MSPs who have lodged amendments are refusing to agree”

to a meeting on Friday.

I seek your guidance on what we can do to ensure that private emails between committee members and clerks remain private. Will you graciously consider whether the clerks should mark correspondence between members and clerks on private matters as “private and confidential” to ensure that there is no breach of trust?

The Convener

As far as I am aware—I do not think that Maurice Golden is suggesting this—Andy Wightman is not technically in breach of the standing orders or any other code of conduct, so no issues arise from that. As Maurice Golden has pointed out, I think, the correspondence in question was not marked “private”, although discussing it in public might be unhelpful for committee members, particularly when no decision has been taken on whether or when a meeting is to be held. That is a matter for Andy Wightman to consider.

I will request that the clerks mark future committee correspondence as “private” so that the issue does not arise again. Although technically within the rules, it is not necessarily helpful if members wish to correspond with one another about committee procedure, particularly when that has not yet been decided. That is not necessarily helpful for us as a committee in coming to an agreement on such things.