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
Reimbursement of Members’ Expenses Scheme
The next item of business is consideration of Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body motion S5M-24232, on the reimbursement of members’ expenses scheme.17:19
On behalf of the corporate body, I speak to the motion to replace the current reimbursement of members’ expenses scheme. We are making the change now in order that the new scheme is in place for the start of session 6.
The new scheme is the result of two separate reviews. The first looked at office costs and other provisions within the scheme, and the second focused on staff costs. On behalf of the corporate body, the Presiding Officer wrote to all members following those reviews earlier in the session to explain the detail of the proposed changes. Members had the opportunity to feed into the reviews and I am grateful to those who helped us with our considerations.
As colleagues will not need reminding, a strong Parliament depends on having members who are equipped to fulfil their role, both in representing their constituents and in holding the Government of the day to account. The changes will ensure that members continue to be properly supported in carrying out those important functions.
If agreed to, from the start of session 6, the staff cost provision limit will be increased to £133,200 per year. That will enable members to employ up to the equivalent of four full-time staff in a flexible way to suit individual office needs. The changes also include a new start-up provision, which is separate from the office cost provision, to help members set up their local office.
The scheme will also be simplified by reducing the four current provisions, which are office cost, surgery advertising, telecommunications, and members’ stationery and postage, into two new provisions, which are an office cost provision and an engagement provision. More flexibility has also been given to members, allowing up to £5,000 to be flexed between the two new provisions. That recognises that members work in different ways.
The corporate body also recognised that some additional support was needed in other areas—for example, the annual limit on staff travel of 74 journeys has been removed, and members with a disability or caring responsibilities who would normally fall into group 2 for Edinburgh accommodation can now apply to the SPCB to be considered as falling into group 3.
Additional temporary resources can be applied for where a member is absent long term, and the winding-up provision has been amended to recognise the support that is required when a member’s status changes following an election, rather than only when a member ceases to be a member.
I hope those brief comments are helpful to members.
That the Parliament, recognising that the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (the SPCB) carried out a review of the Reimbursement of Members’ Expenses Scheme approved by Resolution of the Parliament of 12 June 2008 (as last amended by a Resolution of the Parliament on 24 April 2020)—
(a) in exercise of the powers conferred by section 81(2), (5)(b) and 85(5) of the Scotland Act 1998—
(i) confers functions on the SPCB to reimburse members in respect of expenses and cost incurred in each financial year in accordance with the Reimbursement of Members’ Expenses Scheme (the Scheme) annexed as Annex 1 to this Resolution and confers other functions on the SPCB as specified in the Scheme;
(ii) determines that the various limits on expenses or costs under the Scheme are as set out in the Schedule of Rates annexed as Annex 2 to this Resolution and that such limits are applicable until the SPCB exercises its power under the Scheme to uprate or vary them;
(iii) confers other functions on the SPCB as specified in the Scheme; and
(iv) approves the Scheme;
(b) determines that the Scheme shall come into effect on 6 May 2021;
(c) rescinds, with effect from 6 May 2021, the Resolution of the Parliament of 12 June 2008 (as last amended on 24 April 2020).
We are running slightly ahead of schedule, so I am minded to accept a motion without notice under standing order rule 11.2.4, that decision time be brought forward to now. I invite Graeme Dey to move such a motion.
That, under Rule 11.2.4, Decision Time be brought forward to 5.23 pm.—[Graeme Dey]
Motion agreed to.