Last November, I made an announcement to the chamber on behalf of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, in which I drew the Parliament’s attention to the committee’s report on the importance of confidentiality in relation to reports by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland about MSPs’ conduct.
The report detailed a series of breaches of the code’s provisions, some of which had resulted in information about a complaint appearing in the media before and during the committee’s consideration of the commissioner’s report. The leaks meant that the committee had to carry out its responsibilities while the media were reporting on and speculating about details of the case.
I announced the committee’s intention to review the code of conduct’s rules on confidentiality, and motion S5M-16420 invites members to agree to some revisions to the code that strengthen and clarify those provisions. Members will already be familiar with the changes that are proposed, because all MSPs were consulted on them in January. We took the opportunity to look at confidentiality more widely, and some of the changes in the report relate to the work of committees and the handling by staff of confidential documents.
I take the opportunity to again remind all members of the importance of the confidentiality provisions and the part that they play in preserving the ability of all committees and members to undertake the work of the Parliament in an orderly fashion, without being undermined and pre-empted by external comment and speculation.
That the Parliament agrees to amend the Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament by making the revisions set out in Annexe A of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 1st Report 2019 (Session 5),
Code of Conduct for MSPs - proposed revisions to Rules on Confidentiality of the Complaints Process
(SP Paper 493) with effect from 24 April 2019.