A committee report examining the parliamentary procedural recommendations from the Calman Commission is published today.
Consideration by the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) Committee has been given to 16 of the 60 recommendations from ‘Calman’ which relate specifically to changes to the Scottish Parliament’s procedures and rules of operation.
In its findings the Committee welcomes many of the Calman recommendations, which are designed to support interaction between the UK and Scottish Governments and Parliaments, but believes that flexibility should be retained on how best that can be achieved.
The SPPA Committee recommends that there should be dialogue between the parliaments and the Secretary of State for Scotland/First Minister about their respective legislative programmes, but that such discussions should be informal and do not require any provision in Standing Orders.
SPPA Committee Convener Gil Paterson MSP said:
“A number of recommendations contained in the Calman Commission’s report are about the importance of positive interaction between the UK and Scottish Government, and between the two respective Parliaments.
“We take the view that Calman’s proposal for the First Minister to appear each year before a House of Commons select committee, and for the Secretary of State for Scotland to reciprocate, is more a matter for political agreement or protocol than one which requires procedural change.
“Similarly, our Committee supports the recommendation that there should be dialogue between the First Minister and the Secretary of State about their legislative programmes, and highlights that such discussions should be informal and do not require changes to the Scottish Parliament’s standing orders.”
Mr Paterson added:
“The Committee recognises that the scope of our report is limited to consideration of procedural issues and how the Scottish Parliament works, but we welcome the opportunity to make a contribution to the larger debate that will be required on all of the Calman Commission’s findings.”
Other findings from the SPPA Committee’s report include that:
The Committee recommends some changes to the Scotland Act should be implemented, such as Calman’s proposal to provide greater flexibility around the appointment of Presiding Officers and Deputy Presiding Officers.
The Committee also supports Calman’s recommendation for the Scottish Parliament to be given a greater degree of discretion in how it regulates its Members’ Interests regime. The Committee calls for the Scotland Act to be amended to give Holyrood more flexibility whilst still maintaining safeguards over the scheme.
In the limited timescale available, the Committee could not undertake an in-depth review of the Scotland Act, as recommended by Calman, because of the need to provide views to the Scotland Office in advance of the publication of its draft Scotland Bill, which is expected in the autumn.
The SPPA Committee’s report entitled the Report on the Recommendations on Scottish Devolution regarding Scottish Parliament Procedures can be found on the Committee’s homepage.
The report sets out the Committee’s views on the following elements of the Calman Commission:
- Relations between parliamentary committees
- Relations between Scottish MEPs and the Scottish Parliament
- Legislative Consent Motions and legislation in reserved areas
- Inter-government and Parliament relations
- Recommendations concerning the Scottish Parliament’s procedures
- Procedural Review of the Scotland Act
- Members’ interests.
The Commission on Scottish Devolution was established by the Scottish Parliament and the UK Government with the following remit:
to review the provisions of the Scotland Act 1998 in light of experience and to recommend any changes to the present constitutional arrangements that would enable the Scottish Parliament to serve the people of Scotland better, improve the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament, and continue to secure the position of Scotland within the UK.
The Commission’s final report was published in June 2009.
At its meeting on 8 December 2009, the Parliamentary Bureau referred to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee a number of the procedural recommendations from the final report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution.
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