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SPPA/S3/08/R9

9th Report, 2008 (Session 3)

Review of Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

CONTENTS

Remit and membership

Report

Background
Consultation
Key Principles (currently Section 8.2)
Dealing with individual constituents’ cases (currently Section 8.3)
Application of the Code of Conduct
Dealing with constituency/regional issues (currently Section 8.5)
Regional members operating in their regions (currently Section 8.10)
Enforcement (currently Section 8.12)
Other minor changes
Conclusion

Annexe A: Final revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

Annexe B: Table of differences between current Section 8 and final revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

Annexe C: Extracts from the Minutes

Annexe D: Oral evidence

Annexe E: Current Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

Annexe F: Written evidence on current Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

Alasdair Allan MSP
Bill Aitken MSP
Jackie Baillie MSP
Robert Brown MSP
Bruce Crawford MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business
Alex Fergusson MSP, Presiding Officer
Lewis Macdonald MSP
Alasdair Morgan MSP
Alex Neil MSP
Cathy Peattie MSP
Jeremy Purvis MSP
Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Andrew McCabe

Annexe G: Interim revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

Annexe H: Written evidence on interim revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

Bill Aitken MSP
Richard Baker MSP
Sarah Boyack MSP
Cathie Craigie MSP
Patricia Ferguson MSP
George Foulkes MSP
Murdo Fraser MSP
Iain Gray MSP
James Kelly MSP
Lewis Macdonald MSP
Ken Macintosh MSP
Tom McCabe MSP
David McLetchie MSP
Michael McMahon MSP
Pauline McNeill MSP
Margaret Mitchell MSP
Alasdair Morgan MSP
Mary Mulligan MSP
Elaine Murray MSP
Cathy Peattie MSP
Mike Rumbles MSP
Karen Whitefield MSP
Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Constituent of Angela Constance MSP
Andrew McCabe

Remit and Membership

Remit:

1. The remit of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee is to consider and report on—

(a) the practice and procedures of the Parliament in relation to its business;

(b) whether a member’s conduct is in accordance with these Rules and any Code of Conduct for members, matters relating to members’ interests, and any other matters relating to the conduct of members in carrying out their Parliamentary duties;

(c) the adoption, amendment and application of any Code of Conduct for members; and

(d) matters relating to public appointments in Scotland.

2. Where the Committee considers it appropriate, it may by motion recommend that a member's rights and privileges be withdrawn to such extent and for such period as are specified in the motion.

(Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament, Rule 6.4)

Membership:

Keith Brown (from 28 September 2007 to 12 November 2008) (Convener from 2 October 2007 to 12 November 2008)
Robert Brown (from 3 September 2008)
Aileen Campbell (from 13 November 2008)
Cathie Craigie (from 28 September 2007 to 1 October 2008) (Deputy Convener from 2 October 2007 to 1 October 2008)
Marlyn Glen (from 28 September 2007 to 1 October 2008)
Marilyn Livingstone (Deputy Convener) (from 2 October 2008)
Jamie McGrigor (from 28 September 2007 to 12 November 2008)
Christine McKelvie (from 28 September 2007 to 12 November 2008)
Nanette Milne (from 13 November 2008)
Hugh O'Donnell (from 28 September 2007 to 2 September 2008)
Gil Paterson (Convener) (from 13 November 2008)
Peter Peacock (from 2 October 2008)
Dave Thompson

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Gillian Baxendine

Senior Assistant Clerk
Jane Williams
Mary Dinsdale

Assistant Clerk
Catherine Fergusson

Support Manager
Stephen Fricker

Review of Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

Background

1. At its first meeting on 2 October 2007, the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) Committee agreed that it wished to conduct a review of Section 8 of the Code of Conduct. Section 8 of the Code of Conduct sets out the conduct expected of members when working with constituents as well as with each other, Scottish Ministers and other agencies or authorities.

2. A review of Section 8 of the Code of Conduct was suggested by the previous Standards and Public Appointments Committee as well as more recently by members who had, informally, expressed concern as to whether its content could be more clearly expressed.

3. Between Session 2 and Session 3 of the Scottish Parliament, there was a change to the complaints process in relation to complaints from constituents about the level of service or quality of representation from their MSP.   The Code of Conduct which operated in Session 2 contained, in Annexe 5, guidance from the Presiding Officer on relationships between MSPs whilst Section 2 set out the key principles1 of the Code of Conduct.  Some of these key principles also appeared in Annexe 5. Complaints under Annexe 5 about members conduct towards each other, Ministers and other agencies or authorities were made to the Presiding Officer. Complaints from constituents under Section 2 about the level of service or quality of representation they received from their MSP were made to the Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner (the Standards Commissioner). 

4. At the end of Session 2, the Standards and Public Appointments Committee recommended, and the Parliament agreed, that the Code of Conduct should be separated into 3 volumes.   Volume 1 would contain the introduction, background and overarching key principles of the Code of Conduct. Volume 2 would contain the Code of Conduct itself, whilst Volume 3 would contain guidance and copies of relevant statutes.2 The Section 2 key principles were moved into Volume 1 while Annexe 5, the Presiding Officer’s guidance on relationships between MSPs, was moved into Volume 2 (becoming Section 8) with its content unchanged. A copy of the current Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (hereafter referred to as Section 8) is contained in Annexe E of this report.

5. Under this revised Code of Conduct which has operated in Session 3, complaints made under Section 8 are known as “excluded complaints”3 and are considered by the Presiding Officer and not by the Standards Commissioner.

6. The Presiding Officer wrote to the SPPA Committee on 12 September 20074 explaining the basis upon which he could consider all complaints raised under Section 8 of the Code of Conduct. The Presiding Officer also commented that under Section 8 it would appear that any complaints which could not be informally resolved would be referred to the SPPA Committee to consider and report on.

Consultation

7. At its meeting on 2 October 2007 the Committee agreed the following remit for its review:

a) Does the content of Section 8 require to be changed? If so, why?

b) If changes are required, what aspects of Section 8 require to be changed and how?

8. The Committee agreed a number of questions5 that it wished to seek written responses on including:

  •  whether, if at all, constituents should be able to complain about the level of service or performance of their MSP;
  • what information should be provided by complainants before the  Presiding Officer can consider a complaint;
  • the level of communication between regional and constituency members when approached to take on a constituency case.

9. The Committee then agreed to seek written evidence on these questions from the Presiding Officer, the Minister for Parliamentary Business, Business Managers and MSPs, as well other interested parties. The Committee agreed to place an open call for written evidence on its website.

10. On 26 February and 18 March 2008, the Committee took oral evidence from the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) and the Standards Commissioner, as well as some MSPs and Business Managers.

11. On 22 April 2008, having considered the written and oral evidence received, the Committee agreed an interim revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (contained in Annexe G of this report). In considering who to seek evidence from on the interim revised Section 8 (also called the ‘draft revised Section 8’), the Committee noted the poor response to its initial open call for evidence.6 The Committee therefore agreed to seek written responses on its interim revised Section 8 only from MSPs and those others who had responded to the initial call for written evidence.

12. The written evidence received on the interim revised Section 8 was considered by the Committee at its meeting on 2 September 2008 and is also available on the Committee’s webpage.

13. The Committee also agreed at its meeting on 2 September 2008, its final revised Section 8 which is contained in Annexe A.

14. The Committee would like to thank all those who contributed their views to the Committee’s review of Section 8.
This report does not comment on all of the issues, recommendations and possible solutions suggested in oral and written evidence but rather focuses on the Committee’s proposed changes as set out in the final revised Section 8. It does not therefore comment in detail on the interim revised Section 8.

Key Principles (currently Section 8.2)

16. Volume 1 of the Code of Conduct at paragraph 3.1.1 states that:

The key principles, as compared to the ethical standards set out in the Code itself, are aspirational in nature. Their intent is to guide and inspire Members towards the very highest ethical ideals. The key principles, in contrast to ethical standards, do not represent obligations and do not form the basis for imposing sanctions.

17. The Committee noted, however, that in the current Code of Conduct some key principles had been retained within Section 8, one of which repeated a key principle already contained in Volume 1 of the Code. The key principle that Members should “be accessible to the people of the areas for which they have been elected to serve and to represent their interest conscientiously” appears in paragraph 3.1.5 of Volume 1 and Section 8.2.1 (I) in Volume 2.

18. The Committee therefore sought evidence on whether, given that the key principles are aspirational in nature, any key principles should also be contained within Section 8 of the enforceable Code of Conduct.

19. In written evidence to the SPPA Committee,7 the Standards Commissioner described his experience of considering complaints about the quality of service or representation under Section 2 of the previous Code of Conduct. He stated that only one complaint (of 108) received during the period 2003/04 to 2006/07 had proceeded to full investigation and resulted in a conclusion that there had been a failure to provide conscientious representation.8 The Committee also noted that it had not had any complaints under Section 8 referred to it from the Presiding Officer during Session 3.

20. The Standards Commissioner noted that in practice almost all complaints relating to quality of service or representation failed the admissibility test. Usually that was because the evidence was that the Member had made a reasonable (or indeed praiseworthy) attempt to act for the constituent, although the constituent was not satisfied; or else the member had good reason for declining to act on a matter.9

21. The Standards Commissioner explained that complaints arising out of the key principles in Annexe 5 were problematic for a number of reasons including that people vary in their expectations of what an MSP can reasonably do for them. He observed that MSPs are not employees of the Scottish Parliament and they cannot be held to a strict job description that specifies how constituents’ problems must be dealt with. MSPs ultimately answer to the electorate.10

22. The Committee sought evidence on how to define reasonable accessibility and conscientious representation. In oral evidence the SCPO responded that many spheres of legislation rely, as do other aspects of life, on a test of reasonableness and on finding the right person to make that judgement. In that regard the SCPO suggested that the basis for the judgement of reasonableness is in the key principles in Section 8.2.1 of the Code and that the Presiding Officer is, initially, the person who should make that judgement.11

23. In contrast, some MSPs12 together with the Standards Commissioner13 argued that constituents should not be able to complain about the level of service or performance of their MSP. The complaints process should be kept for matters of conduct and preventing corruption and non-disclosure of financial interests.

24. The Committee heard repeatedly in oral evidence that constituents are very well served by MSPs14 with MSPs “doing their level best to address their constituents’ problems”15 and that therefore the inclusion of key principles within Section 8 could be considered as “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.16

25. As part of its evidence-gathering, the Committee also gathered information about Codes of Conduct from other Parliaments around the world.17 The Committee noted that none of the nine regional legislatures and four national legislatures who responded to the Committee’s survey had job descriptions for members and most did not have any formal statement of members’ roles or duties.

26. The research concluded that none of the Parliaments surveyed have complaint procedures aimed specifically at members’ service levels to constituents. A number of responses, including one from the Swedish Parliament (where elections are held using a system of preference voting), suggested that the final resort for a constituent who was not happy with the performance of their representative was to vote the member out at the next election.18

27. The Committee also noted that of the five key principles, one (Section 8.2.1(I)) was restated elsewhere, two (Section 8.2.1(IV)19 and (V)20) could be interpreted as rules and the remaining two (8.2.1(II)21 and 8.2.1(III)22) could be restated factually within Section 8.

28. The Committee concluded that, as the key principles were intended to be aspirational and did not represent sanctionable obligations, they should not be retained within Section 8. Adding weight to the Committee’s argument is that Section 8.2.1 (I) is already contained within the Introduction to the Code of Conduct at paragraph 3.1.5 (in Volume 1). The Committee concluded that its removal from Section 8 would clarify that this key principle was intended to be aspirational.

29. In considering Section 8.2.1 II the Committee agreed with the comments made in oral evidence that, whilst constituents’ wishes are important, there is “ultimately a reservoir of judgement available to an MSP about the proper way to deal with a matter and whether it would be appropriate to take it forward.”23 A number of examples were provided to the Committee of reasons why a constituent’s case may not be taken on by an MSP such as where the case could not be progressed further because another MSP had already taken all appropriate action, or where a case may be better raised with another organisation.24 The Committee therefore agreed it would retain this principle as a rule but restated in a way which more accurately reflected the balance between the MSP’s and the constituent’s wishes.

30. The Committee also agreed that Sections 8.2.1 III, IV and V should be retained within Section 8 but as facts or rules rather than as key principles.

31. In considering the written and oral evidence received, the Committee agreed that the key principles contained within Section 8.2 should not be retained within Section 8 in their present form.

32. The Committee acknowledges that the removal of the key principles from Section 8 could be perceived as diluting the Code of Conduct. However, the Committee believes that this perception would be inaccurate. As the evidence demonstrated, all but one of the complaints which have arisen from the key principles have been dismissed because the MSPs concerned had sought to act in the best interests of their constituents. In fact the key principles actually created confusion about the conduct expected of an MSP, given that the key principles  could be so broadly interpreted.

33. The Committee noted that should any person be dissatisfied with the quality of service or representation they receive from an MSP, they can complain to the Business Manager of the political party concerned, take their case to another of their representative MSPs or, ultimately, vote for another MSP or political party at the next general election.

Dealing with individual constituents’ cases (currently Section 8.3)

Usual point of contact
34. The Committee noted that Section 8.3.1 currently states that it is expected that the usual point of contact for a constituent raising a specific personal or local matter will be his or her constituency MSP.

35. Given that each constituent is represented by one constituency MSP and seven regional MSPs, the Committee agreed that this statement could be misinterpreted by the public as steering the public to their constituency MSP in the first instance. The Committee agreed that it is the constituent’s choice which of their elected representatives they approach.

36. The Committee therefore agreed, by a majority, to remove this statement from Section 8.25

Notification
37. At present the Code of Conduct requires regional MSPs to notify the relevant constituency MSP when raising a constituency case (unless the consent of the constituent is withheld).

38. Alasdair Morgan MSP explained that this requirement may have had its origins in the poor relationships that existed between some constituency and regional members in the early days of the Parliament.26 It would appear, though, from the oral evidence the Committee received, that only some members currently observe this rule, with other MSPs no longer requiring notification from regional MSPs.27

39. The Committee heard evidence that in one region, agreement was reached between members early in the session so that cases which required specific expertise may be forwarded, with the constituent’s consent, to another MSP who possessed such expertise.28  

40. Alex Neil MSP argued that the requirement for regional MSPs to notify constituency MSPs was contrary to the key principle that all MSPs have equal formal and legal status.29 Jackie Baillie MSP explained that as constituency MSPs may have a bigger case load, such notification was vital to ensure that duplication of case work did not occur.30 It was argued that the reputation of the Parliament would be damaged if MSPs dealing with the same constituency case each raised the same issue with an organisation or authority.31

41. Margo MacDonald MSP also explained that, in her experience, there is a difference in the type of the work that a single list member can undertake given they are trying to service a larger regional area compared with a smaller constituency.32 Lewis Macdonald MSP amplified this view explaining that the functions of constituency and regional MSPs are different because regional MSPs, unlike constituency MSPs, may not see constituency case work as their primary responsibility.33

42. Written and oral evidence demonstrated to the Committee that the requirement for regional MSPs to notify constituency MSPs when raising a constituency case was not being observed across all regions. This, the Committee noted, was in some cases a reflection of the consensual working arrangements between regional and constituency MSPs, and in other cases was a reflection of the specific expertise or political views of some MSPs. In some cases it was an omission arising from the speed at which a case was satisfactorily concluded.

43. On balance the Committee was persuaded that the requirement for regional MSPs to notify constituency MSPs when raising a constituency case did not encourage nor reflect the current practice of consensual working amongst MSPs (which could be beneficial for the constituent). The Committee recognised that this requirement could be perceived as being contrary to the principle that all MSPs have equal formal and legal status.

44. The Committee therefore disagreed, by a majority,34 with the proposal by some members35  that the Code of Conduct should reflect the difference in roles and responsibilities between regional and constituency MSPs.

45. The Committee then agreed, by a majority,36 to remove the requirement that regional MSPs should notify constituency MSPs when raising a constituency case.

46. The Committee did accept though that, where a member is approached about taking on a case and becomes aware that the case may already be being progressed by another MSP, there would be benefit in the member notifying the relevant MSP. This would go some way towards addressing members’ concerns about duplication of effort and the impact of this on the Parliament’s reputation. The Committee agreed therefore to include such a recommendation within Section 8 but to make clear that this is not a sanctionable obligation.

Application of the Code of Conduct

47. Paragraph 1.3 of Volume 1 of the Code of Conduct states that the Code of Conduct applies to the conduct of all members in relation to their duties connected to being a member of the Scottish Parliament. It then explains that there are three circumstances when the Code of Conduct does not apply to members: in their private and family life, when expressing their political views (as a member of a political party) and when acting in their capacity as a Minister (and carrying out the functions of the Scottish Executive).

48. In considering the content of the current Section 8 the Committee noted that there were a number of references to the conduct expected of people who are not subject to the Code of Conduct. Section 8 of the Code of Conduct currently comments on the conduct expected of:

  • Ministers or agencies in corresponding with MSPs;
  • Ministers responding on constituency matters;
  • Ministers when planning to visit a constituency;
  • Local agencies in contacting and consulting with MSPs;
  • Visitor and Outreach services in organising MSPs to attend educational visits;
  • The Parliament’s Public Enquiry Unit when transferring calls to MSPs.

49. The Committee agreed that in light of the fact that Ministers (when acting as Ministers), external organisations or authorities and SPCB staff are not subject to the Code of Conduct it was not appropriate for the Code of Conduct to set out the conduct that was expected of them.

50. The Committee recognised that the Scottish Ministerial Code already sets out the conduct expected of Scottish Ministers and allows Ministers to be held to account for their conduct.

51. In other cases, such as the references to SPCB staff conduct and the guidance on office signage and stationery, Section 8 actually sets out the SPCB policy in relation to parliamentary services. As members must abide by the policies that are adopted by the SPCB (Section 7.2.11 of the Code of Conduct), the Committee agreed that it was neither appropriate nor necessary for Section 8 of the Code of Conduct also to contain selected parts of such policies. Indeed as such policies could change over time; it was unhelpful to include such details as they would require updating every time the policy changed.

52. The Committee therefore agreed to remove all references to the conduct of Ministers, local agencies or organisations and SPCB staff from Section 8 of the Code of Conduct and to remove the references to office signage and stationery.

53. In evidence to the Committee, Jeremy Purvis MSP and Alasdair Morgan MSP requested a change in the current SPCB policy preventing the use the Scottish Parliament logo with party political affiliation on MSP office stationery.37 Whilst the Committee recognises that this policy is a matter for the SPCB, it has some sympathy with the views expressed. The Committee draws this evidence to the attention of the SPCB and invites it to consider revisiting its policy preventing the use of party political affiliation in the description of an MSP’s status attaching to their signature.

Dealing with constituency/regional issues (currently Section 8.5)

54. In written evidence to the Committee, Karen Whitefield MSP and Michael McMahon MSP questioned whether there was any evidence to support the statement in Section 8 that MSPs were “likely to have a greater impact when working collectively for a common cause” (Section 8.5.1). These MSPs argued that the inclusion of this paragraph within Section 8 is confusing given this paragraph relates to general constituency matters and not individual constituency cases.

55. The Committee agreed with these views, acknowledging that the statement that Members may wish to work collectively for a common cause represented best practice guidance rather than conduct required of Members. The Committee therefore agreed to remove the statement contained within the current Section 8 about working collectively.

Regional members operating in their regions (currently Section 8.10)

56. Section 8.10 currently specifies that regional members should work in more than two constituencies within their region.

57.The Committee received written and oral evidence on whether this requirement should be retained within Section 8, removed altogether, or strengthened to increase the number of constituencies within which regional member must operate.

58. It was argued by Brian Adam MSP and Robert Brown MSP38 that it would make no sense for members from the same political party and who all represent the same region to cover all of the constituencies. Instead they may decide to cover the region by dividing up case work geographically, dividing the case work according to subject areas or a mixture.39 Robert Brown MSP suggested that the regional member could still serve the whole area but that a working relationship that divides case work up was a reasonable compromise.40

59. In contrast Jeremy Purvis MSP suggested that the argument that list members work on behalf of all constituents in a region is undermined if a party with more than one member in the region, subdivide it. He explained that it was important that regional members should not be able to shadow only one constituency because if they did there would be some constituents in a region who, as a result, would not have seven regional members and one constituency member to choose from.41

60. In considering the evidence, the Committee agreed that the current requirement for regional members to work across more then two constituencies represented the appropriate balance between preventing shadowing of a single constituency whilst allowing members of the same party within a region to work more effectively for their constituents. The Committee recognised that this arrangement can be particularly valuable in those regions which cover large geographical areas or where some members may have specific areas of previous professional expertise or experience.

61. The Committee therefore agreed to retain the current requirement for regional members to ensure that their activities are regional in nature by working in more than two constituencies within their region.

62. The Committee agreed to remove the references to the specific examples of evidence which may demonstrate that a regional member was working across more than two constituencies, given that there is a range of evidence which may be sought by the Presiding Officer when considering a formal complaint.

63. The Committee agreed that it would keep this matter under review.

64. The Committee acknowledged that, ultimately, it is a matter for each constituent which of their MSPs they wish to approach with their case, irrespective of any working arrangements between regional MSPs of the same political party. If a constituent insists that a particular MSP take on their case then, in the absence of any good reason not to, that MSP should take on the constituent’s case.

Enforcement (currently Section 8.12)

65. In written evidence to the SPPA Committee the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) pointed out that the current Section 8 does not set out clearly the procedures that should be followed in making complaints under this Section. In addition to setting out its good practice guidance on complaint procedures the SPSO recommended that the complaints process should mirror that of the Standards Commissioner as set out on the Standards Commissioner’s website and leaflet.

66. A number of MSPs giving evidence also suggested that complaints to the Presiding Officer should be required to provide the same level of information as is required by the Standards Commissioner42 such as the complainant’s name and address and the facts relevant to the conduct complained about. It was accepted by MSPs giving evidence that the Presiding Officer was the appropriate person to consider complaints under Section 8, given that the Presiding Officer’s authority is vested in him or her by all MSPs. In addition, those giving evidence considered that the Presiding Officer is likely to be an experienced member of the Parliament who would therefore know and understand the issues as well as any MSP.43

67. The Committee agreed with the evidence of the SPSO and that of members that the complaints process could be made clearer and that the criteria which apply to complaints made to the Standards Commissioner (as set out in Section 9.1 of the Guidance to the Code of Conduct) should also apply to complaints to the Presiding Officer under Section 8 of the Code of Conduct.

68. The Committee therefore agreed to restructure the Enforcement section of Section 8 (including renaming it) and cross reference that section to Section 9.1 of the Guidance to the Code of Conduct.

69. The Committee heard evidence from Jeremy Purvis MSP that under the criteria in Section 9.1 it was not possible for a body to complain about the conduct of an MSP as complaints must be made by an individual person. 44

70. The Committee is content that Section 8 provides for the Presiding Officer to be able to exercise his judgement as to whether to continue to consider a ”procedurally defective complaint”45 (including one which is not from an individual) when such exceptional circumstances arise.

Other minor changes

71. The Committee agreed with a point made in written evidence46 that the current title of Section 8 ‘Relationships between MSPs’ did not accurately reflect the content of Section 8 given it also contains information for the public on their relationship with MSPs.

72. The Committee therefore agreed to rename Section 8 ‘Engagement and Liaison with Constituents’ which better reflects the content of the section.

73. As a consequence, the reference to the title of Section 8 found within Section 9 of the Code of Conduct (at Section 9.1.6(b)) will require to be changed and Parliament’s agreement to this minor consequential change is therefore requested.

74. The Committee will also require to change the title of Section 8 in the Guidance on the Code of Conduct (in Volume 3) to reflect the proposed new title of Section 8 and make other changes to reflect the changes proposed to Volume 2.  These changes do not require Parliamentary approval.  

Conclusion

75. The Committee recommends that the Parliament agrees the changes to Section 8 and the minor consequential change proposed to Section 9.1.6(b) of the Code of Conduct as set out in Annexe A.

Annexe A: Final revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

SECTION 8: ENGAGEMENT AND LIAISON WITH CONSTITUENTS

8.1 Dealing with individual constituents’ cases

8.1.1 Every constituent is represented by one constituency MSP and seven Regional MSPs. It is expected that each member will take on a case when approached although it is recognised that there may be legitimate reasons for a member to decline a constituent’s case in certain circumstances e.g. where a constituent requests an MSP to take inappropriate action, or if that case seeks action which would represent a conflict of interest with existing casework or is contrary to the member’s political beliefs. If so, the member would ordinarily be expected to inform the constituent that the member is not taking up the case.

8.1.2 A constituent can approach any of the MSPs (whether a constituency MSP or one of the seven regional MSPs as the case may be) elected to represent them as all MSPs have equal formal and legal status.

8.1.3 In the event that a member is made aware that a constituent’s case is already being pursued by a constituency MSP or regional MSP, it is recommended that the member notifies that MSP. Whilst this is not a requirement of the Code of Conduct, adopting such an approach should avoid any duplication of case work or MSPs working at cross purposes thereby damaging a constituent’s case. Notification between members should only take place with the explicit consent of the constituent.

8.1.4 An MSP must not deal with a matter relating to a constituency case or constituency issue outwith his or her constituency or region (as the case may be) unless by prior agreement.

8.1.5 Regional MSPs have a responsibility to all those in the region for which they were elected.  It is important therefore that they recognise this in the way in which they operate within the region and they must therefore work in more than 2 constituencies within their region.  Regional MSPs would be expected to deal (as appropriate, having regard to paragraph 8.1.1) with any matter raised by any constituent within their region.

8.2 Describing Members

8.2.1 MSPs should not misrepresent the basis on which they are elected or the area they serve. Regional members and constituency members must describe themselves accurately so as not to confuse those with whom they deal.

Constituency members should always describe themselves as:

“[Name], Member of the Scottish Parliament for [x] constituency.”

Regional members should always describe themselves as:

“[Name], Member of the Scottish Parliament for [y] region.”

8.2.2 Regional members must not describe themselves as a “local” member for (or having a particular interest in) only part of the region for which they were elected.  Constituency members should not describe themselves as the sole MSP for a particular area or constituency. 

8.2.3 Further guidance may be issued by the Presiding Officer as appropriate in the context of a period prior to an election.

8.3 MSPs’ staff

8.3.1 Members must ensure that their staff in the Parliament and locally, and others working on their behalf with constituents and agencies, are aware of, and conform to, these rules.

8.4 Making a complaint

8.4.1 Any complaint against a member (including one about their staff or others working for them) in respect of this section should in the first instance be made to the Presiding Officer.  Any complaint made under Section 8 of the Code of Conduct should meet the requirements set out in paragraph 9.1 of Volume 3 of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament. A complaint which does not meet the requirements set out in paragraph 9.1 may be dismissed by the Presiding Officer as a ‘Procedurally Defective Complaint’.

8.4.2 In considering a complaint the Presiding Officer may contact the member(s) concerned to seek a response to the conduct complained about.

8.4.3 The Presiding Officer will, if necessary, contact the respective Party Business Managers in relation to a complaint. 

8.4.4 Where the complaint cannot be resolved in this way, where the matter is of sufficient seriousness to warrant a more formal investigation, or where any MSP directly involved remains dissatisfied, the Presiding Officer will raise the matter with the Convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee. 

8.4.5 The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee would then consider the matter as it judges appropriate, in accordance with its procedures and its remit to consider and report on the conduct of members in carrying out their Parliamentary duties. 

8.4.6 It is fundamental to the success of this section that the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee will, as a matter of course, treat all breaches of these rules with the utmost seriousness.  Members should not raise complaints under Section 8 of the Code of Conduct in any way other than that described above (in particular via the media) to avoid any suggestion of prejudging the issue.

SECTION 9: ENFORCEMENT OF THE RULES

In Section 9.1.6 (b) replace ‘Relationships between MSPs’ with ‘Engagement and Liaison with constituents’.

Annexe B: Table of differences between current Section 8 and final revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

Differences between current Section 8 and the final revised Section 8

1. The table below sets out the changes made to the current text within Section 8 (contained in Annexe E of this report) and where appropriate refers to where such changes can be found in the final revised Section 8 (contained within Annexe A of this report).

Current Section 8 reference Revised Section 8 Section reference Explanation
Title ‘ Relationships between MSPs’ Title ‘ Engagement and Liaison with constituents’ New title better reflects content of Section 8.
8.1.1 (MSP Staff) 8.3. (MSP staff) Unchanged but moved due to re ordering of sections.
8.2.1. I (includes duty to be accessible and conscientiously represent constituents’ interests) 8.1.1 (first sentence) Part remains as a statement of fact, remainder of 8.2.1 I remains in paragraph 3.1.5 of Volume 1.
8.2.1 II (constituents wishes and that of constituency or locality are of paramount importance) 8.1.1 Text changed to better reflect balance of relationship between MSP and constituent.
8.2.1 III (All MSPs have equal formal and legal status)  8.1.2 Changed from key principle to become a statement reflecting the status of MSPs.
8.2.1 IV (which relates to MSP representation on basis on which elected) 8.2.1 Changed from key principle to become a rule.
8.2.1 V (which in general prevents MSPs taking up matters out with their constituency or region) 8.1.4 Changed from key principle to become a rule.
8.3.1 (which includes reference to notification of constituency MSPs and usual point of contact for constituents) N/A Committee agreed, by a majority, to remove these requirements.
N/A 8.1.3 (Relates to ways to avoid duplicating of case work) New recommendation (not an obligation) setting out ways MSPs can avoid duplication of case work.
8.3.2 ( Ministers and agencies writing to constituents) N/A Removed as relates to conduct of Scottish Ministers and local organisations or authorities who are not subject to the Code of Conduct.
8.4 (Dealing with Ministers) N/A Removed as relates to conduct of Scottish Ministers who are not subject to the Code of Conduct.
8.5 (dealing with constituency/ regional issues and working collectively) N/A Removed as no evidence for recommending as best practice.
8.6 (dealing with local agencies/ national agencies working locally) N/A Removed as relates to conduct of local organisations or authorities who are not subject to the Code of Conduct.
8.7 (Inward educational programme) N/A Removed as relates to conduct of SPCB staff who are not subject to the Code of Conduct. Abiding by SPCB policies is already a requirement under Section 7.2.11 of the Code of Conduct.
8.8 (Telephone enquiries) N/A Removed as relates to conduct of SPCB staff who are not subject to the Code of Conduct. Abiding by SPCB policies is already a requirement under Section 7.2.11 of the Code of Conduct.
8.9.1 (Describing Members) 8.2.1 Requirements remain unchanged.
8.9.2 (Describing Members and guidance on Stationery and signage) 8.2.2 & 8.2.3 Changed to remove references to Guidance on Stationery and signage. Abiding by SPCB policies is already a requirement under Section 7.2.11 of the Code of Conduct.
8.9.3 N/A Removed as relates to stationery policy. Abiding by SPCB policies is already a requirement under Section 7.2.11 of the Code of Conduct.
8.10 (Regional Members operating in their regions) 8.1.5 Requirements remain unchanged but evidence examples removed, as what evidence is sought is a matter for the Presiding Officer.
8.11 (MSP Staff) N/A Removed as duplication of existing text found in Section 8.1.1
8.12 (Enforcement) 8.4 (Making a complaint) Changed to cross reference Standards Commissioner criteria in Section 9.1 of Guidance on the Code of Conduct. Existing procedure unchanged but text separated into paragraphs.

Annexe C: Extracts from the Minutes

2nd Meeting, 2007 (Session 3), Tuesday 30 October 2007

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (Standards):  The Committee agreed the remit of its review; the questions on which written evidence should be invited; the key stakeholders to target for written evidence, to issue a general call for written evidence and the deadlines for receipt of written evidence.  The Committee also agreed to seek a briefing from SPICe.

1st Meeting, 2008 (Session 3), Tuesday 15 January 2008

Review of Volume 2, Section 8, of the Code of Conduct: The Committee considered written evidence from MSPs on its review of volume 2, section 8 of the Code of Conduct.

2nd Meeting, 2008 (Session 3), Tuesday 5 February 2008

Review of Volume 2, Section 8, of the Code of Conduct: The Committee considered written evidence received from stakeholders and interested parties. 

The Committee considered a request from a respondent for their submission to be published anonymously.  The Committee disagreed to the request. The Committee agreed to inform the respondent of the Committee’s decision and to invite the respondent to resubmit their submission for publication in full.

The Committee also agreed to consider, in private, the key themes arising from oral evidence on its review of volume 2, section 8 of the Code of Conduct at its meetings on 26 February and 18 March.

3rd Meeting, 2008 (Session 3), Tuesday 26 February 2008

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct: The Committee took evidence from—

Dr Jim Dyer, Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner;

Graham Blount, Parliamentary Officer, Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office;

and then from—

Robin Harper MSP, Margo MacDonald MSP, Lewis Macdonald MSP, Alasdair Morgan MSP and Jeremy Purvis MSP.

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (in private): The Committee considered key themes arising out of evidence heard in relation to its review of section 8 of the Code of Conduct.

5th Meeting, 2008 (Session 3), Tuesday 18 March 2007

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct: The Committee took evidence from—

Brian Adam MSP, Scottish National Party Chief Whip;

Jackie Baillie MSP, Scottish Labour Party Business Manager;

David McLetchie MSP, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Business Manager;

Robert Brown MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrat Party Business Manager;

and then from—

Alex Neil MSP.

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (in private): The Committee considered key themes arising out of evidence heard in relation to its review of section 8 of the Code of Conduct.

6th Meeting, 2008 (Session 3), Tuesday 22 April 2008

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (in private): The Committee considered proposed revisions to section 8 of the Code of Conduct.  The Committee agreed to consider a draft section 8 at its next meeting.

7th Meeting, 2008 (Session 3), Tuesday 13 May 2008

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (in private): The Committee considered and agreed its draft revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct.  The Committee also agreed to seek comments on its draft revised Section 8 from MSPs and other stakeholders who submitted written evidence on the review.

14th Meeting, 2008 (Session 3), Tuesday 2 September 2008

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct: The Committee considered written responses to its review of Section 8 of the Code of Conduct.

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (in private): The Committee agreed changes to its draft revised Section 8 of the Code of Conduct, and agreed to consider its draft report in private at future meetings.

18th Meeting, 2008 (Session 3), Tuesday 28 October 2008

Review of Volume 2, Section 8 of the Code of Conduct (in private): The Committee continued consideration of a draft report to a future meeting.

Annexe D: Oral evidence

SPPA COMMITTEE OR, 26 FEBRUARY 2008

SPPA COMMITTEE OR, 18 MARCH 2008

Annexe E: Current Section 8 of the Code of Conduct

SECTION 8: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MSPs

8.1 Introduction

8.1.1 Members must ensure that their staff in the Parliament and locally, and others working on their behalf with constituents and agencies, are aware of, and conform to, these procedures.

8.2 Key principles

8.2.1 The procedures are founded on five key principles:

I      one constituency MSP and seven list MSPs who are elected in the wider region.  All eight MSPs have a duty to be accessible to the people of the areas for which they have been elected to serve and to represent their interests conscientiously.

II     the wishes of constituents and/or the interests of a constituency or locality are of paramount importance.

III     All MSPs have equal formal and legal status.

IV   MSPs should not misrepresent the basis on which they are elected or the area they serve.

V    No MSP should deal with a matter relating to a constituent, constituency case or constituency issue outwith his or her constituency or region (as the case may be), unless by prior agreement.

What follows is guidance on how those principles should be applied in practice.

8.3 Dealing with individual constituents’ cases

8.3.1 The basic principle is that the wishes of the constituent are paramount. In particular, a constituent has the right to approach his or her constituency MSP, or any of the seven regional MSPs elected in his or her region.  They also have the right to expect an MSP to take on a case though the MSP must be able to judge how best to do so.  It is expected, however, that, in practice, the usual point of contact for a constituent raising a specific personal or local matter will be his or her constituency MSP.  In the event that a regional (‘list’) MSP does raise a constituency case (for example with a Minister or local authority) he or she must notify the relevant constituency MSP at the outset unless the consent of the constituent is withheld.  A suggested pro-forma for this purpose is attached at Appendix A.

8.3.2 Ministers or agencies such as local authorities and health boards, who are in correspondence with MSPs on such constituency issues, should not notify other MSPs representing the area.  That would breach the confidential nature of the relationship between constituent and MSP.  The only exception is where constituency cases raise more general issues of relevance to the whole constituency or area.  In those circumstances, a Minister or agency may judge it appropriate to notify other MSPs with an interest of the general issue.  They should not, however, refer to, or identify, individual constituents in doing so.  Staff working on behalf of Ministers or agencies should be made aware of and apply these guidelines.

8.4 Dealing with Ministers

8.4.1 Any Member is entitled to raise with the relevant Minister in the Scottish Executive a matter on behalf of a constituent in the area for which they were elected.  The Minister would be expected only to reply to the MSP raising the matter.  It is for that MSP to notify others, taking into account, of course, the views of the constituent as in paragraph 8.3.1 above.  The guidance on relationships between MPs and MSPs will contain further guidance on dealing with Ministers, especially those of the UK Government.

8.4.2 Ministers planning to visit constituencies should, as a matter of course, only notify the constituency MSP.  At their discretion, they may also notify regional Members representing the area.

8.5 Dealing with constituency/regional issues

8.5.1 Any MSP is entitled to take an interest in or take up a matter affecting the constituency or region for which they were elected.  MSPs are likely to have a greater impact where they work collectively for a common cause, as their constituents would expect them to.  That may not be possible in some instances because of perfectly legitimate political differences but MSPs may wish to contact one another, as a matter of courtesy, where they are involved or planning to become involved in a major local issue.

8.6 Dealing with local agencies and dealing with national agencies operating locally

8.6.1 Any MSP elected to represent an area has the right to be expected to be consulted as appropriate by local or national agencies operating in that area.  It is recognised that this might involve such agencies (NDPBs, local authorities, health boards etc) in dealing with potentially large numbers of MSPs, in particular, where agency boundaries cross regional boundaries.  The expectation therefore is that the constituency Member or Members will be involved as a matter of course and that agencies will make appropriate arrangements to maintain contact and consult with regional list MSPs which have relevant regional representation perhaps through a representative regional list MSP nominated by each party.  Agencies are free to inform or consult these nominated members either jointly with constituency members, or separately.  This does not affect the right of any Member representing a constituency or area to raise a matter on behalf of a constituent.

8.7 Inward educational programme

8.7.1 Where educational establishments or bodies make arrangements to participate in the Parliament’s educational programme, the Parliament’s Visitor and Outreach Services will invite the relevant constituency Member to attend.  Visitor and Outreach Services will notify regional Members who will be expected to agree on a maximum of one regional Member from each party within the region to attend that visit. Where regional Members are from the same party or political group as the constituency Member, the regional and constituency Members should discuss who will attend (the intention being that there will be one representative from each party or group present).

8.8 Telephone enquiries

8.8.1 Members of the public calling the Parliament’s public enquiry unit for a particular Member or the Member for a particular constituency will be put through only to the Member concerned.  If the Member is unavailable the person calling will be given the option of leaving a message.  Members of the public will not be put through to regional Members where constituency Members are unavailable unless they ask to speak to a named regional Member.

8.9 Describing Members

8.9.1 Regional Members and constituency Members must describe themselves accurately so as not to confuse those with whom they deal.

Constituency Members should always describe themselves as:

“[Name], Member of the Scottish Parliament for [x] constituency.”

Regional Members should always describe themselves as:

“[Name], Member of the Scottish Parliament for [y] region.”

8.9.2 Regional Members must not describe themselves as a “local” Member for (or having a particular interest in) only part of the region for which they were elected.  Constituency Members should not describe themselves as the sole MSP for a particular area or constituency.  Guidance for Members on regional and constituency office signage can be found in section 5 of the document ‘Standards and Procedures for Use of the Scottish Parliament Logo and Stationery’. This document is located on SPEIR at the following address:
http://intranet.scottish.parliament.uk/organisation/directorates/ai/MSP-bdgl.aspx  Further guidance may be issued by the Presiding Officer as appropriate in the context of a period prior to an election.

8.9.3 Members are obviously aware that, once elected, they represent all the people living in their constituency or region.  For that reason members are strongly discouraged from identifying party affiliation on stationery and other items provided out of public funds including Parliament headed letter paper, surgery advertisements and business cards.  

8.10 Regional Members operating in their regions

8.10.1 It follows from the first and second principles and from what is said above that regional Members have responsibility to all those in the region for which they were elected.  It is important therefore that they recognise this in the way in which they operate within the region.  This is an issue of fundamental importance in the relationship between constituency and regional Members.  The following is of critical relevance in dealing with any complaints regarding these matters.  Regional Members are expected to work in more than 2 constituencies within their region.  Evidence that they were doing so would include holding surgeries in more than 2 constituencies (though regional Members do have the option of holding surgeries in their Party’s regional office only) and dealing with local authorities and other agencies and constituents in more than 2 constituencies within their region.  Regional Members would also, of course, be expected to deal (as appropriate) with any matter raised by any constituent within their region.

8.11 MSPs’ staff

8.11.1 Members should ensure that staff working on their behalf are aware of and apply these guidelines.

8.12 Enforcement

8.12.1 Any complaint against a Member (including one about their staff or others working for them) in respect of this section should in the first instance be made to the Presiding Officer.  The Presiding Officer will, as appropriate, contact the Member or Members involved and, if necessary, their respective Party Business Managers.  Where the matter cannot be resolved informally in this way, where the matter is of sufficient seriousness to warrant a more formal investigation, or where any MSP directly involved remains dissatisfied the Presiding Officer will raise the matter with the Convener of the Standards and Public Appointments Committee.  The Standards and Public Appointments Committee would then consider the matter as it judges appropriate in accordance with its procedures and its remit to consider and report on the conduct of members in carrying out their Parliamentary duties.  It is fundamental to the success of this section that the Standards and Public Appointments Committee will as a matter of course, treat all breaches of these principles with the utmost seriousness.  Members should not raise matters in any way other than that described above (in particular via the media) to avoid any suggestion of prejudging the issue.

APPENDIX A

Member for [X] Constituency
Scottish Parliament
EDINBURGH
EH99 1SP
(or Constituency address as appropriate)

MATTER RAISED BY [NAME OF CONSTITUENT]

I am writing to notify you that [name of constituent] has raised a matter concerning [brief general description of issue] with me.  I am taking this forward as appropriate.

[Name of Regional Member]

Annexe F: Written evidence on current Section 8 of the code of conduct

This evidence can be accessed in PDF format from the links below
(from the website version of this report).

Alasdair Allan MSP
Bill Aitken MSP
Jackie Baillie MSP
Robert Brown MSP
Bruce Crawford MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business
Alex Fergusson MSP, Presiding Officer
Lewis Macdonald MSP
Alasdair Morgan MSP
Alex Neil MSP
Cathy Peattie MSP
Jeremy Purvis MSP
Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Andrew McCabe

Annexe G: Interim revised Section 8 of the code of conduct

INTERIM REVISED SECTION 8: ENGAGEMENT AND LIAISON WITH CONSTITUENTS

8.1 Dealing with individual constituents’ cases

8.1.1 Every constituent is represented by one constituency MSP and seven Regional MSPs. It is for each constituent to decide whether to approach his or her constituency MSP or any of the seven regional MSPs elected in his or her region and request that member to take on their case. It is expected that each member will take on a case when approached although it is recognised that there may be legitimate reasons for a member to decline a constituent’s case e.g. if that case seeks action which would represent a conflict of interest with existing casework or is contrary to the Member’s political beliefs. If so, the Member would ordinarily be expected to inform the constituent that the Member is not taking up the case.

8.1.2 Having agreed to take on a case, each MSP must then take into account the wishes of the constituent in deciding how best to progress a case.

8.1.3 A constituent can approach any of the MSPs (whether a constituency MSP or one of the seven regional MSPs as the case may be) elected to represent them as all MSPs have equal formal and legal status.

8.1.4 Any MSP is entitled to take an interest in or take up a matter affecting the constituency or region for which they were elected.  MSPs are likely to have a greater impact where they work collectively for a common cause, as their constituents would expect them to.  That may not be possible in some instances because of perfectly legitimate political differences but MSPs may wish to contact one another, as a matter of courtesy, where they are involved or planning to become involved in a major local issue.

8.1.5 In the event that a MSP is made aware that a constituent’s case is already being pursued by a constituency MSP or regional MSP, it is recommended that the member notifies that MSP. Whilst this is not a requirement of the Code of Conduct, adopting such an approach should avoid any duplication of case work or MSPs working at cross purposes thereby damaging a constituent’s case. Notification between members should only take place with the explicit consent of the constituent.

8.1.6 MSPs are reminded of the requirements of the Data Protection Act when processing personal data47 and sensitive personal data48. Members should not provide personal data or sensitive personal data about a constituent without the agreement of the constituent. In corresponding with Ministers or other agencies, MSPs must ensure that any initial written or oral communication makes clear the basis upon which any personal data or sensitive personal data about a constituent is being provided49.

8.1.7 An MSP must not deal with a matter relating to a constituency case or constituency issue outwith his or her constituency or region (as the case may be) unless by prior agreement.

8.1.8 Regional MSPs have a responsibility to all those in the region for which they were elected.  It is important therefore that they recognise this in the way in which they operate within the region and they must therefore work in more than 2 constituencies within their region.  Evidence that they were doing so would include holding surgeries in more than 2 constituencies (though regional MSPs do have the option of holding surgeries in their Party’s regional office only) and dealing with local authorities and other agencies and constituents in more than 2 constituencies within their region.  Regional MSPs would also, of course, be expected to deal (as appropriate, having regard to paragraph 8.1.1) with any matter raised by any constituent within their region.

8.2 Describing Members

8.2.1 MSPs should not misrepresent the basis on which they are elected or the area they serve. Regional members and constituency members must describe themselves accurately so as not to confuse those with whom they deal.

Constituency Members should always describe themselves as:

“[Name], Member of the Scottish Parliament for [x] constituency.”

Regional Members should always describe themselves as:

“[Name], Member of the Scottish Parliament for [y] region.”

8.2.2 Regional members must not describe themselves as a “local” member for (or having a particular interest in) only part of the region for which they were elected.  Constituency members should not describe themselves as the sole MSP for a particular area or constituency. 

8.2.3 Further guidance may be issued by the Presiding Officer as appropriate in the context of a period prior to an election.

8.3 MSPs’ staff

8.3.1 Members must ensure that their staff in the Parliament and locally, and others working on their behalf with constituents and agencies, are aware of, and conform to, these rules.

8.4 Making a complaint

8.4.1 Any complaint against a member (including one about their staff or others working for them) in respect of this section should in the first instance be made to the Presiding Officer.  Any complaint made under Section 8 of the Code of Conduct should meet the requirements set out in paragraph 9.1 of Volume 3 of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament. A complaint which does not meet the requirements set out in paragraph 9.1 may be dismissed by the Presiding Officer as a ‘Procedurally Defective Complaint’.

8.5 Procedure for dealing with a complaint

8.5.1 In considering a complaint the Presiding Officer may contact the member(s) concerned to seek a response to the conduct complained about.

8.5.2 The Presiding Officer will, if necessary, contact the respective Party Business Managers in relation to a complaint. 

8.5.3 Where the complaint cannot be resolved in this way, where the matter is of sufficient seriousness to warrant a more formal investigation, or where any MSP directly involved remains dissatisfied, the Presiding Officer will raise the matter with the Convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee. 

8.5.4 The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee would then consider the matter as it judges appropriate, in accordance with its procedures and its remit to consider and report on the conduct of members in carrying out their Parliamentary duties. 

8.5.5 It is fundamental to the success of this section that the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee will, as a matter of course, treat all breaches of these rules with the utmost seriousness.  Members should not raise complaints under Section 8 of the Code of Conduct in any way other than that described above (in particular via the media) to avoid any suggestion of prejudging the issue.

Annexe H: Written evidence on interim revised Section 8 of the code of conduct

This evidence can be accessed in PDF format from the links below
(from the website version of this report).

Bill Aitken MSP
Richard Baker MSP
Sarah Boyack MSP
Cathie Craigie MSP
Patricia Ferguson MSP
George Foulkes MSP
Murdo Fraser MSP
Iain Gray MSP
James Kelly MSP
Lewis Macdonald MSP
Ken Macintosh MSP
Tom McCabe MSP
David McLetchie MSP
Michael McMahon MSP
Pauline McNeill MSP
Margaret Mitchell MSP
Alasdair Morgan MSP
Mary Mulligan MSP
Elaine Murray MSP
Cathy Peattie MSP
Mike Rumbles MSP
Karen Whitefield MSP
Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Constituent of Angela Constance MSP
Andrew McCabe


Footnotes:

1 These key principles are aspirational in nature, intending to guide and inspire members towards the very highest ethical ideals and set the tone for the relationships between members and those they represent and between the Parliament and the people of Scotland.

2 Scottish Parliament Standards and Public Appointments 2nd Report, 2007 (Session 2). Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament (SPP 763)

3 See paragraph 9.1.6(b) of Section 9, Volume 2, The Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament

4 Annexe A of SPPA Committee paper SPPA/S3/07/2/4. Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/2007.htm [Accessed 6 October 2008]

5 Annexe B of SPPA Committee Paper SPPA/S3/07/2/4. Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/2007.htm [Accessed 6 October 2008]

6 4 responses in total-2 from organisations and 2 from members of the public

7 The Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner. Written submission to the SPPA Committee (Phase 1). Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/inquiries/Section8Review_Phase1.htm [Accessed 6 October 2008]

8 Scottish Parliament Standards and Public Appointments 2nd Report, 2007 (Session 2). Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament (SPP 763)

9 The Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner. Written submission to the SPPA Committee (Phase 1). Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/inquiries/Section8Review_Phase1.htm [Accessed 6 October 2008]

17 Scottish Parliament Information Centre. Responses to surveys of Code of Conduct.

18 Scottish Parliament Information Centre. Responses to surveys of Code of Conduct.

19 Section 8.2.1 IV states that MSPs should not misrepresent the basis on which they are elected or the area they serve

20 Section 8.2.1 V states that No MSP should deal with a matter relating to a constituent, constituency case or constituency issue out with his or her constituency or region (as the case may be) unless by prior agreement.

21 Section 8.2.1 II states that the wishes of the constituent and/or the interests of a constituency or locality are of paramount importance.

22 Section 8.2.1 IV states that MSPs should not misrepresent the basis on which they are elected or the area they serve.

25 For 6 (Keith Brown, Marlyn Glen, Jamie McGrigor, Christina McKelvie, Hugh O’Donnell, Dave Thompson) Against 1 (Cathie Craigie)

26 Alasdair Morgan MSP. Written submission to the SPPA Committee (Phase 1). Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/inquiries/Section8Review_Phase1.htm [Accessed 6 October 2008]

29 Alex Neil MSP. Written submission to the SPPA Committee (Phase 1). Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/inquiries/Section8Review_Phase1.htm [Accessed 6 October 2008];

34 For 6 (Keith Brown, Marlyn Glen, Jamie McGrigor, Christina McKelvie, Hugh O’Donnell, Dave Thompson) Against 1 (Cathie Craigie)

35 Lewis Macdonald MSP and Karen Whitefield MSP. Written submission to the SPPA Committee (Phase 2). SPPA Committee paper SPPA/S3/08/14/2 available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/meetings.htm [Accessed 7 October 2008]

36 For 6 (Keith Brown, Marlyn Glen, Jamie McGrigor, Christina McKelvie, Hugh O’Donnell, Dave Thompson) Against 1 (Cathie Craigie)


37 Scottish Parliament SPPA Committee. Official Report, 26 February 2008, Col 122. Alasdair Morgan MSP. Written submission to the SPPA Committee (Phase 1). Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/inquiries/Section8Review_Phase1.htm [Accessed 6 October 2008]

38 Robert Brown MSP gave oral evidence as Business Manager for the Scottish Liberal Democrats

45 A complaint which fails to meet one or more of the requirements set out in Section 9.1 in the Guidance on the Code of Conduct is referred to as a “Procedurally Defective Complaint”.

46 Alasdair Morgan MSP. Written submission to the SPPA Committee (Phase 1). Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/stanproc/inquiries/Section8Review_Phase1.htm [Accessed 6 October 2008];

47 Personal data means data that affects the privacy of a living, identifiable individual who can be identified from the data e.g. a person’s name along with their home address is personal data.

48 Sensitive personal data is data which describes racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature, trade union membership, physical or mental health, sexual life, the commission or alleged commission of an offence, or proceedings carried out in relation to an offence.

49 For example, whether the constituent has agreed that their personal or sensitive information can be shared by the Minister or agencies, with others.