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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Meeting of the Parliament 25 January 2022

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Junior Minister, Transvaginal Mesh Removal (Cost Reimbursement) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Transvaginal Mesh Removal (Cost Reimbursement) (Scotland) Bill, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Point of Order, My Breath is My Life


Point of Order

On a point of order, Presiding Officer.

This point of order relates to section 7 of the “Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament”, as it refers to members’ conduct in committees.

I seek your advice on a situation that has occurred, in that Sandesh Gulhane MSP has misrepresented, in the press, the intent of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s proposed inquiry into alternative pathways into primary care and has made comment in the media that has promulgated misinformation, undermined the committee’s work and disrespected the convener and other colleagues.

Yesterday, Dr Gulhane gave a comment to a newspaper that appears to uphold a false intention of an inquiry, which has been agreed to by all colleagues across the parties, into the availability, capacity and public uptake of alternative health pathways in community settings.

An agreed press release, which quoted the convener, went out from the committee, but a newspaper has decided wilfully to misinterpret the intent and has reported that the Government wants to curtail access to general practitioners and, specifically, that our convener wishes for that result. As you and most members of this Parliament understand, committee inquiries and scrutiny are not Government work or Government policy design, and the comments of any convener are not representative of any party or Government position.

I am certain that all committee conveners pride themselves on upholding that important standard. By failing to challenge that false assertion about the committee’s work and, in fact, upholding the false assertion that our inquiry is a Scottish National Party policy move, it is my belief that Dr Gulhane has undermined the committee’s work, falsely pre-empted any committee recommendations and deviated from an agreed committee purpose with regard to the inquiry.

As a result of Dr Gulhane’s actions, several of his colleagues have repeated the false assertions online, which I believe has been the cause of targeted abuse and phone calls to constituency offices, including mine and, I believe, that of the convener.

I would be grateful for your guidance on how that deviation from the members’ code of conduct can be addressed.

I thank the member. However, the matter that the member raises is not a point of order. Conduct at committees is, in the first instance, a matter for the convener of the relevant committee. If a member wishes to raise a concern under the members’ code of conduct, the code of conduct sets out how to do that.