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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 04 October 2017

Agenda: Business Motion, Portfolio Question Time, Employment Support, Gender Pay Gap, Complaint, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Radiologists



The next item of business is consideration of motion S5M-08013, in the name of Clare Adamson, on behalf of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, on a breach of the code of conduct for members of the Scottish Parliament.


The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee has considered and reported on a complaint from Christian Allard about Alexander Burnett MSP. The complaint was that Alexander Burnett failed to declare his registered business interests when submitting written parliamentary questions in August last year. All the details of the complaint, the committee’s deliberations and the investigation by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland can be found in the annexes to our report.

The complaint alleged that Alexander Burnett had relevant business interests that related to a housing development in Banchory in Aberdeenshire. The complainer’s submission was that the conflict of interest arose by virtue of entries in the respondent’s register of interests.

The commissioner investigated the complaint and concluded that Mr Burnett was in breach of the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006 and the code of conduct for MSPs. The committee unanimously endorsed the commissioner’s conclusion. Furthermore, we consider that the breach justifies the imposition of a sanction on Alexander Burnett.

The committee wishes to focus its recommended sanction on the specific breach that was complained about. Accordingly, it recommends that Alexander Burnett should be prohibited from lodging parliamentary questions for written answer for a period of two weeks, which will not overlap with any period of recess.

I take the opportunity to reiterate on behalf of the committee that declaring registered financial interests in any matter before taking part in proceedings of the Parliament that relate to that matter is an essential aspect of parliamentary transparency and accountability. Furthermore, it is a legal requirement under the 2006 act and the code of conduct for MSPs.

Before taking part in any proceedings of the Parliament, a member must always consider whether they have a declarable interest in relation to the particular matter that is being addressed in those proceedings. It is incumbent on members to make the appropriate written and oral declarations if they have a declarable interest.

I move,

That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 10th Report, 2017 (Session 5), Complaint against Alexander Burnett MSP (SP Paper 200), and agrees to impose the sanction recommended in the report that Alexander Burnett MSP be excluded from submitting Parliamentary Questions for written answer for a period of two weeks, to occur from 23 October to 5 November 2017 inclusive.