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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2019

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, St John’s Hospital (Paediatric Services), Social Isolation and Loneliness, Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, Business Motion, Decision Time, Housing and Ageing


Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Our next item of business is consideration of motion S5M-15582, in the name of Kezia Dugdale, on the appointment of a new Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland. I call Kezia Dugdale to speak to and move the motion on behalf of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.


Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab)

On behalf of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, I invite members to agree to the appointment of Caroline Anderson as the new Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.

By way of background, I note that the Scottish Parliamentary Commissions and Commissioners etc Act 2010 provides that the commissioner is to be appointed by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body with the agreement of the Parliament. The SPCB sat as a selection panel on 17 December 2018. I chaired the panel and the other members were Sandra White and Andy Wightman. On behalf of the panel, I thank Louise Rose, the independent assessor, who oversaw the recruitment process and has provided the SPCB with a validation certificate confirming that the process complied with good practice and that the nomination of Caroline Anderson is made on merit with a fair, open and transparent process.

The commissioner’s role is an important one in the statutory framework to secure high ethical standards in public life. The commissioner is responsible for investigating complaints about the conduct of members of the Scottish Parliament, local authority councillors and members of public bodies and non-compliance with the lobbying regime. The commissioner reports their findings in relation to MSPs and lobbyists to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee and their findings about councillors and members of devolved public bodies to the Standards Commission for Scotland.

In addition to their complaints work, the commissioner regulates how people are appointed to the boards of public bodies in Scotland, and if it appears that the code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies in Scotland has not been complied with, that, too, is reported to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

Turning to our nominee, I note that Caroline Anderson is the unanimous choice of the panel from a strong field of candidates who were invited to interview. Caroline is a chartered accountant and has over 20 years of specialist experience in regulation and compliance, gained mainly in the professional services environment. For seven years, Caroline acted as an independent consultant appraising applications for aid under the European Union special support programme for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland. She has also held a number of ministerial appointments, including chair of the audit and risk committee of the Disclosure and Barring Service and tribunal member of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

The SPCB believes that Caroline’s unique set of skills, knowledge and experience will equip her well in the commissioner’s role. The panel believes that Caroline will bring to the post professionalism, fairness, integrity and high ethical standards, and I am sure that the Parliament will want to wish her every success in her new role.

I believe that the Parliament will also wish to record its thanks to the outgoing commissioner, Bill Thomson, whose term in office will end on 31 March 2019, and to wish him a long and happy retirement.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees to the appointment of Caroline Anderson as the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.


The Presiding Officer

The question on the motion will be put at decision time.