Below is the text of the letter from Presiding Officer Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP to all Members of the Scottish Parliament on the powers available to the Parliament with regard to all MSPs who are unable to fulfil the full range of their parliamentary duties as a result of being imprisoned.
Proposed Amendment to Scottish Parliament Salary Scheme
This morning I convened a meeting of the SPCB to look carefully at the powers available to this Parliament with regard to all MSPs who are unable to fulfil the full range of their parliamentary duties as a result of being imprisoned.
As you will see from the enclosed SPCB paper, which we have released for full clarity, officials have concluded that the Parliament can modify the current Salary Scheme to provide for a reduction in salary payable in these circumstances.
Such a modification could be made by resolution of the Parliament under section 81(1), as read with section 83(5) of the Scotland Act 1998.
Following our consideration this morning, the SPCB is strongly persuaded by the proposition that any Member who is unable to carry out their full range of functions as a result of being imprisoned should not receive their full salary.
From reviewing the core functions of a Member as set out in the SPCB paper, we recommend that 90% of salary should be withheld for the duration of imprisonment.
I shall therefore be seeking the Parliamentary Bureau’s agreement to bring forward a resolution before Parliament next week to amend the Salary Scheme.
In recommending this course of action to Parliament, it should be made clear we do not seek to encroach upon the role of the courts. Our approach should in no way be interpreted as a punishment - that is for the courts.
In recommending this reduced salary provision to Parliament, the SPCB is mindful of the legal advice it has received, namely that our decision should be underpinned by the following principles and apply to all Members equally, including members of the Scottish Government and parliamentary officeholders:
- The provision made should respect the principle that salary is payable in return for the performance of functions.
- The provision must not be motivated by punishment, retribution or censure.
- The provision should be proportionate, of general application, and consistent in its treatment of ordinary MSPs and those office holders and members of the Government who receive a salary supplement.
I should re-iterate that these provisions would apply across the board in all circumstances.
Having looked carefully at the powers available to this Parliament, the SPCB is clear that this is the right thing to do and hope Members will support this course of action.