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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 07 March 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Information-sharing Provisions), International Women’s Day, Point of Order, Decision Time, Local Government Finance (Debt Amnesty)


Point of Order

On a point of order, Presiding Officer.

During this afternoon’s ministerial statement on named persons, Monica Lennon asked the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills a question relating to council finances. Monica Lennon is a sitting councillor on South Lanarkshire Council, which she failed to disclose when asking the question, despite its being on her register of interests. I believe that Monica Lennon has breached section 3.1.4 of “The Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament”, so I seek the Presiding Officer’s view on that.

I thank Ms Haughey for her point of order. It is entirely up to each individual member to decide whether an interest is declarable. Without commenting further on the point of order, I am aware that some members—including members of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee—are concerned about the application of that rule, so I thought that it might be helpful to provide some clarification for members.

If a member has a registrable interest in a matter, they must declare that before taking part in any parliamentary proceedings that relate to that matter. That is a requirement of “The Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament” and the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006. Each member has to judge whether an interest is sufficiently relevant to particular proceedings to require a declaration. As Presiding Officer, it is not my role to determine whether a member should have declared an interest. Instead, complaints about whether members have followed the rules about declaring interests are initially investigated by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.

If Miss Haughey, or any other member, wishes to pursue the matter further, the clerks to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee will be able to advise on the most appropriate course of action. I hope that that has been helpful.