A new Bill to increase the transparency of MSPs’ financial interests has been introduced by Stewart Stevenson MSP, on behalf of the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.
Published today (28 May), the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament (Amendment) Bill is the first Committee Bill this session and follows a detailed inquiry where the Committee made a number of recommendations to streamline the reporting process for MSPs’ financial interests as well as widening the rules on paid advocacy.
Following Parliament’s agreement, the Committee has now introduced a Bill to make these changes happen.
Speaking on introduction, Committee Convener, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“The need for a robust and rigorous regime for members registering financial interests is clear. The public need to know about a member’s financial interests so they can judge whether the member might be influenced.
“Our Bill builds on the already comprehensive system in place to make sure arrangements at the Scottish Parliament mean the public can have the confidence in those they elect.”
Measures contained within the Bill include:
- Lowering the threshold for registering gifts to 0.5% of a member’s salary.
- Making changes to facilitate the ending of ‘dual reporting’ which saw financial interests reported to the Scottish Parliament and the Electoral Commission.
- Amending the definition of paid advocacy so that agreeing to receive inducements as well as actually receiving them would be an offence.
- Introduction of a new sanction for members in breach – a motion of censure.
The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee published its report on improving the transparency of member’s financial interests in March 2015.
Following the publication of the report, the Parliament agreed on 22 April 2015 to the proposals set out by the Committee which allowed the Committee to introduce the Bill.
This is the first Committee Bill this session.