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29 January 2014

S4M-08832 Committee Substitutes

The Presiding Officer (Tricia Marwick): The next item of business is consideration of motion S4M-08832, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, on committee substitutes. I call Stewart Stevenson to move and speak to the motion on behalf of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

16:54

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

Before I come to the substance of the motion that is before us, it is right and proper that I draw to Parliament’s attention the two reports that I will be speaking to today—Scottish Parliament papers 402 and 433—and to the role that two of our late members, Brian Adam and Helen Eadie, played in their preparation. My old boss once said that on the day after one leaves office the tide has come in and one’s footprints have gone from the beach, but we should acknowledge the efforts of those two much-missed members in contributing to what I shall be speaking about this afternoon. [Applause.]

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee is recommending some minor changes to standing orders. The first change clarifies that should a member of the Public Audit Committee become a minister, he or she will cease to be a member of that committee. In practice, that has always been the case, but there was previously some ambiguity in the rules, which we now seek to correct.

The second change relates to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee itself. On occasion, the committee may have to consider a complaint about an MSP, but what happens if that MSP is a member of the committee? It is possible that the member may not wish to attend committee meetings at which the complaint is being considered. However, the current rules do not allow that member to send a substitute in his or her place. The committee would therefore have to meet with one fewer member, which could impact on its work.

The committee has agreed to seek Parliament’s approval to amend standing orders so that a member of the committee can send a substitute in his or her place if they decide not to attend a meeting because the committee is considering a complaint against them. The new rules will not, however, affect the right of a member of the committee to attend a meeting at which they are the subject of a complaint, if they wish to do so.

Parliament is invited to agree that those standing orders changes will come into effect from 3 February.

I move,

That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 7th Report 2013 (Session 4), Committee Substitutes (SP Paper 402), and agrees that the changes to Standing Orders set out in annexe B of the report be made with effect from 3 February 2014.

Stewart Stevenson
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