The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee
has been responsible for implementing some of the recommendations that were made by
SPPA Committee consideration: The Committee agreed proposals for
changes to the Standing Orders which were set out in the Committee’s report and came into force on 3 September 2019.
Speaking in debates
Recommendation 52: The Presiding Officer should, in exceptional
cases of high demand, be able to extend statements, and decision time by up to
30 minutes to accommodate more speakers.
SPPA Committee consideration: The Committee agreed that implementing
this recommendation could be achieved without any changes to Standing Orders.
First Ministers Questions
Recommendation 10: The practice of using scripted diary questions
by party leaders should cease, with party leaders moving straight to their
questions. As a result, the Business Bulletin would reference only the names,
and not the first question, of the party leaders.
SPPA Committee consideration: The Committee agreed to endorse this
recommendation and a proposal for changes to the Standing Orders which were set out in the Committee’s report and came into force on 3 September 2019.
Recommendation 11: The opening question of other MSPs who are
selected to ask a question at FMQs should also no longer be published, to
ensure parity of approach. As a result, the Business Bulletin would only
reference the names, and not the question, of those MSPs selected for a
question at FMQs.
SPPA Committee consideration: The Committee was of the view that the current rules should be
retained, however the
Guidance on PQs should be updated to place on a more formal footing the
opportunities for open questioning at FMQs.
Portfolio and general
Recommendation 12: The focus of questions in the chamber should be
on quality of scrutiny rather than the quantity of questions asked. We
recommend, therefore, the number of portfolio questions selected and published
in the Business Bulletin be reduced.
Recommendation 13: The relevant opposition spokesperson from each
party who requests to speak during portfolio questions should automatically be
Recommendation 14: In view of the further devolution of powers and
our proposals above, Parliament should review the range of question times
available (portfolio and general) with a view to ensuring each portfolio area
is scrutinised more frequently.
SPPA Committee consideration: The Committee considered these recommendations and consulted MSPs over the
summer recess in 2018 with a view to considering the need for any Standing
Order changes in autumn 2018. In November 2018 the Committee wrote to the Presiding Officer summarising the changes that the Committee had agreed to the format and timing of Question Times.
Chamber conduct, questions and answers and the role of the Presiding
Recommendation 18: A mechanism should be provided to enable MSPs to
raise concerns with the Presiding Officer about any answers to written or oral
questions which they do not consider meet the expectations of being accurate,
truthful or where the response is inadequate. Such a mechanism would support
the Presiding Officer in reducing unnecessary MSP interventions on this same
SPPA Committee consideration: The Committee gave initial
consideration to this recommendation. It was not persuaded that the Presiding
Officer should have a role in ruling on the accuracy of answers to questions,
however it agreed to consider further what action may be required in response
to the recommendation.
Recommendation 19: There should be a shift in focus from emergency
questions to urgent questions to reflect more on significance or timing (rather
than a crisis, which the use of the word emergency suggests).
Recommendation 20: It should be for the Presiding Officer to agree
whether any urgent questions should be taken in the chamber and for business on
the day to be amended accordingly. Guidance on what could qualify as an urgent
question should be provided.
SPPA Committee consideration: The Committee considered these recommendations and agreed changes to Standing Orders which were set out in the Committee’s report and came into force on 3 September 2019..
Recommendation 15: The
current three stage legislative process should be replaced with a five stage
process to include pre-legislative and post-legislative scrutiny. While the
existing three stage legislative scrutiny process would remain at its core,
committees should include pre- and post-legislative scrutiny in their work
programmes. We recommend:
a. Scottish ministers (or indeed members’ or committee bill proposers) should provide a short statement in the chamber or relevant committee every time a consultation on proposed legislation is launched (potentially a new stage 1 of the five stage process);
b. the accompanying documents published with bills should provide more detail about the research and evidential base used to underpin that legislation; the following accompanying documents should also be provided upon introduction: business and regulatory impact assessments; equalities impact assessments; and key outcome measures which will enable the success of any legislation to be assessed;
c. committees should be invited by the Parliamentary Bureau to set the timescale for completing their consideration of a bill; d. in addition to the SPPAC recommendations regarding presentation of amendments at existing stages 2 and 3, and a pause mechanism at stage 3, we recommend the rules relating to the stage 3 referral back to the lead committee be changed; we recommend it should be possible, in exceptional cases, to refer a bill back to the lead committee and the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee at stage 3; and
e. the Scottish Government (or other relevant public body) should be required to provide the Parliament with a post-legislative statement a set period after a bill is passed (potentially a new stage 5 of our five stage process).
SPPA Committee consideration: the Committee supported the
Commission's objective of enhancing pre- and post-legislative scrutiny. However,
it was not persuaded that additional formal stages to the legislative process
were required on the basis that committees are currently able to undertake this
scrutiny using existing procedures. In addition, a new Public Audit and
Post-legislative scrutiny Committee has recently been established.
Legislative Standards Body
Recommendation 16: To provide a Scotland-wide approach and
understanding of what constitutes good legislation, the Parliament should
establish a Legislative Standards Body.
consideration: the Committee considered the range of existing initiatives that are underway to promote good legislation in Scotland and agreed to monitor these initiatives to ensure that the objectives identified by the Commission on Parliamentary Reform in relation to the quality of legislation are implemented.
Conveners – elections
and remuneration / resources
Parliament should put in place procedures for the election of conveners from
the start of the next session.
Recommendation 2: Whether conveners are then remunerated and/or
receive additional resources for this role should be based on an objective
assessment of their workloads and the expectations of their roles. This
assessment should be part of a wider exercise considering additional
remuneration for other parliamentary positions (such as party leaders) as
referred to later in this report.
consideration: the SPPA Committee has had an initial consideration of these recommendation and agreed to return to them following an assessment of the workload of committee Conveners.
Regular reviews of
Recommendation 23: We recommend that the Standing Orders of the
Parliament be reviewed, in their entirety, towards the end of each session. This
would utilise the knowledge and experiences of members as they approach
dissolution and would enable a measured and holistic approach to rule changes.
SPPA Committee consideration: the Committee agreed to establish a log to provide a
centralised system for recording any non-urgent changes to Standing Orders, and
to consider further the need for a review of Standing Orders in year 4 of the
current parliamentary session.
Diversity – representatives, rules and procedures
Recommendation 24: A
systematic review of Standing Orders should be undertaken to ensure that it is
diversity sensitive and inclusive to facilitate equal and effective
participation by MSPs in all business.
SPPA Committee consideration: The Committee considered a range of approaches that had been adopted in other legislatures and agreed to focus on work to ensure that the Standing Orders were inclusive and facilitate the equal and effective participation of Members with parenting responsibilities, particularly those nursing infants, in parliamentary proceedings.
Improving understanding of parliamentary language
Recommendation 68: In addition to giving greater prominence to the
Parliament’s online glossary, the systematic reviews of the Parliament’s rules
we have recommended should include reviewing, and where appropriate,
modernising the language used.
SPPA Committee consideration: the Committee considered the range of material that explained parliamentary procedures and was satisfied that, following a number of new initiatives, there was sufficient information available to explain parliamentary procedures. The SPPA Committee also agreed to recommend the use of modern and accessible language where appropriate in future revisions to Standing Orders.
At its meeting on 18 January 2018 the Committee agreed to
write to the Minister for Parliamentary Business on regarding Member’s Bills
and the Minister responded on 7 March 2018.