Meeting date: Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 02 March 2021 [Draft]
Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021, Business Motion, Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Bill, Code of Conduct Rule Changes, Reimbursement of Members’ Expenses Scheme, Decision Time, Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2021, Correction
- Time for Reflection
- Business Motion
- Topical Question Time
- Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021
- Business Motion
- Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3
- Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Bill
- Code of Conduct Rule Changes
- Reimbursement of Members’ Expenses Scheme
- Decision Time
- Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2021
Code of Conduct Rule Changes
The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-24177, in the name of Bill Kidd, on behalf of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, on code of conduct rule changes—treatment of others.17:17
The report “Code of Conduct Rule changes—Treatment of Others” and the proposals that are contained in it to revise the code of conduct for MSPs represent a concluding step in the considerable work that has been undertaken by my committee and the Parliament as a whole to address sexual harassment and sexist behaviour.
The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee believes that members, as elected representatives, should be held to high standards of conduct under the code. Accordingly, we altered the code over a year ago to make it clear that members must not behave in a manner that involves bullying, harassment—including sexual harassment—or any other inappropriate behaviour towards one another or towards their own or other staff or contractors working in and for the Parliament.
The change that is set out in the report will extend that standard of behaviour to others whom MSPs might come into contact with in their capacity as MSPs. It is only right that individuals such as Government staff, constituents and cross-party group members, for example, have the same protection under the code that Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body staff and MSPs’ staff have.
We consulted on the latest change and received very positive support, particularly from groups that represent women’s interests. I thank the Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans for his supportive response to the consultation.
The committee gave a great deal of thought to balancing that measure with members’ rights to freedom of political expression. I remind members that the code does not interfere with members’ private lives.
The new standard of conduct towards those individuals will apply from the start of session 6 and will have no retrospective effect.
On behalf of the committee, I move,
That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 1st report 2021 (Session 5), Code of Conduct Rule changes - Treatment of Others (SP Paper 940), and agrees that the changes to the Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament set out in Annexe A of the report be made with effect from 6 May 2021.
The question on the motion will be put at decision time.