Point of Order

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:35 pm on 21st March 2007.

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Photo of Brian Monteith Brian Monteith Independent 2:35 pm, 21st March 2007

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Further to the point of order that Mike Rumbles raised last Wednesday about the Standards and Public Appointments Committee's conduct in respect of the right of members to have a hearing before it, I beg your brief indulgence by allowing me to raise a point of order that, due to my temporary suspension, I was unable to raise at that time. I seek further clarification.

To put the matter in context, Mike Rumbles brought to members' attention the Standards and Public Appointments Committee's policy that members should, if they request it, be granted a hearing before the committee when it hears a complaint about them. He cited the e-mail that was published in the committee's report on my case that showed that I had asked to appear before the committee. He accepted that there might be some ambiguity about the matter, but as far as I am concerned there was no ambiguity. Neither you, Presiding Officer, nor Mr Rumbles could have been aware that I had sent a further e-mail to the committee, dated 26 February, that did not appear in the report. In that e-mail, I said:

"You should also know that I am out of the country on 6-8th March ... and 13-15th March ... inclusive and would be unable to attend a meeting on those days."

Clearly, if I had not wanted to attend the committee, I would not have gone to the trouble of pointing out when I would be unavailable. Whether the committee chose to ignore the e-mail or was not made aware of it, I cannot say.

In the circumstances, Presiding Officer, can you clarify, not so much for me as for members who might face a similar difficulty in future, what redress members have to ensure that a committee decision can be reviewed or challenged when the committee has possibly breached its own procedures, especially when members do not sit on that committee or it is unlikely to meet again and when, as in this case, the existing method of appeal—namely, appearing before the whole Parliament—has already been used?

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

I am grateful to you for giving advance notice of your point of order. As I said last week in response to Mr Rumbles, the committee convener has confirmed in the chamber that the committee fully met its obligations under the code of conduct in its handling of the complaint against you. The matter is not for me. If you wish to take the matter further to get redress, you must do so directly with the committee.