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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Urgent Question, Best Start Grant (Implementation), Digital Industries, Business Motion, Committee Announcement, Decision Time, Offshore Wind Week 2018


Contents


Committee Announcement

As members might recall, we now have a procedure that allows some time to be set aside at the end of the day for committees to raise business of importance to them, such as committee reports or urgent inquiries. In that context, I call Bill Kidd, the convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, to make an announcement on the report, “Confidentiality of reports from the Commissioner for Ethical Standards for Public Life in Scotland”.

17:01  

On behalf of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, I would like to draw the Parliament’s attention to our report, which was published last week, on the committee’s handling of reports about MSPs’ conduct from the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.

The committee considers such reports in private before reporting to the Parliament, stating whether it agrees with the commissioner and what sanctions, if any, it recommends that the Parliament should impose. If details of a complaint or the contents of the subsequent commissioner’s report appear in the public domain before the committee has considered and reported on the matter, the committee may have to carry out its responsibilities against a backdrop of external comment, speculation and judgment. Publicity and media coverage that result from breaches of confidentiality may act as a disincentive to making a formal complaint, particularly if it is of a sensitive nature.

I would like to take the opportunity, on behalf of the committee, to remind all members of the requirement under the code of conduct that they

“must not disclose, communicate or discuss any complaint or intention to make a complaint to or with members of the press or other media prior to the lodging of the complaint”

or during the committee’s consideration of the complaint. Members are also reminded of their obligation under section 7 of the code to keep certain committee material confidential. The committee intends to take action in response to future breaches of those code of conduct provisions, and it will not view ignorance of the rules as a mitigating factor in deciding what sanction to recommend against a member.

I thank members on behalf of the committee.