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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Meeting of the Parliament 11 June 2019

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Primary 1 Standardised Assessments, Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill, Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill, Standing Orders (Rules Changes), Decision Time, The Way of St Andrews


Standing Orders (Rules Changes)

The next item of business is a Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee debate on motion S5M-17529, in the name of Bill Kidd, on standing order rule changes.


The commission on parliamentary reform was established to look at how the Scottish Parliament can better engage with the people of Scotland and how our work here can be improved to deliver better scrutiny.

The SPPA Committee and the Parliamentary Bureau have both been responsible for implementing some of the commission’s recommendations. The committee has now identified some changes to standing orders that are required. They are set out in our committee report, but I will give a quick outline of them.

First, we propose that the concept of urgent questions should be formalised in standing orders, by replacing the term “emergency questions” with “urgent questions” throughout the rules. We are also proposing to permanently remove the requirement for party leaders to ask diary questions at First Minister’s question time—that change is already happening on a temporary basis.

Secondly, we recommend that the current procedures for committee announcements, which appear to have worked well, should be formalised in standing orders.

Thirdly, we propose some improvements to the rules on members’ bills. In particular, we propose to reduce the timescale in which the Scottish Government must legislate, should it decide to block a final proposal for a members’ bill.

Another proposed change is that standing orders should allow any member to speak on the business programme on Wednesday, at the discretion of the Presiding Officer. That would provide a mechanism for non-bureau members to make comments or raise points on the business programme.

As well as the rule changes that relate to parliamentary reform, we are proposing some adjustments to the rules about the membership of the SPPA Committee. We propose that if a member of the committee has made a complaint against another member, or is the subject of a complaint, they should not be allowed to participate in the consideration of that complaint.

Finally, we are taking the opportunity to propose some other minor changes to standing orders, to bring parliamentary rules into line with current practice in areas such as the deadlines for lodging questions.

Taken as a whole, the package of rule changes implements a number of the recommendations of the commission on parliamentary reform and makes several other improvements to the Parliament’s standing orders.

I move,

That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 12th Report 2019 (Session 5), Standing Order Rule Changes (SP Paper 532), and agrees that the changes to Standing Orders set out in Annexe A of the report be made with effect from 3 September 2019.