Statement of intent
1. The following statement sets out the approach that the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee agreed1 to take in complaint cases where a member has sought and acted on the Standards clerks’ advice when registering an interest or reporting a change to a controlled transaction. When it was developed it was envisaged that successor committees would take the terms of this statement into account when considering complaints.
“If a member is uncertain about whether or not to register an interest, or to report a change to a controlled transaction the Standards clerks’ advice should be sought (in writing, where possible).
Where the SPPA Committee agrees with the conclusion of a Stage 2 complaint report from the Ethical Standards Commissioner that a breach of the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006 has occurred (in relation to section 3(1)2 , section 5(2)3 or section 8A4 of that Act), the SPPA Committee will take into account whether the member followed any advice provided to the member by the Standards clerks (on whether that interest or change to the controlled transaction required registration) when considering whether or not to recommend sanctions.5
The Committee will also take into account whether the circumstances as disclosed by the member to the Standards clerks (and upon which the Standards clerks have given advice) are the same as those disclosed to the Ethical Standards Commissioner during investigation of the complaint.
Where the member has sought advice from the Standards clerks within 30 days of acquiring an interest or the change to the controlled transaction and has acted in accordance with that advice (having fully disclosed the circumstances of the interest) the SPPA Committee would not generally expect to recommend sanctions on any breach found by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.
Members should be aware that this statement of intent does not prevent the Ethical Standards Commissioner or the courts from finding that a member has breached the Act.”
Submission of written statements and written notices
2. Members may notify the Standards Clerks of additions and amendments to, or deletions from their register of interests in signed hard copy or electronically by email. Given that the 2006 Act provides that members are personally responsible for registering interests and that failure to do so is a criminal offence, emails must be sent direct from members’ personal Scottish Parliament email address and not by support staff through “on behalf of” email.
3. Written statement templates and associated guidance for registration of new interests are available electronically on the Parliament’s website.
4. Within 30 days of a written statement being lodged with the Standards clerks, the information in the statement and the date it was lodged are entered in the member’s entry in the Register and a copy of the entry is sent to the member. Where a member has made a declaration that no interest is held, the entry in the Register relating to the relevant member will record that fact along with the lodging date of the declaration.
1at its meeting on 8 September 2009 (Session 3) and updated in January 2016 (Session 4)
2Section 3(1) states that at initial registration: Each member shall register—
(a)any registrable interest which that member had on the date on which that member was returned; and
(b) any registrable interest which that member had before that date but which that member no longer had on that date, if that interest meets the prejudice test, or declare that the member had no such interest.
3Section 5(2) states that where a member acquires an interest after the date of return: Within 30 days beginning with the date on which the member acquired that interest, that member shall register that interest by lodging a written statement with the Clerk
4Section 8A states that a member who has entered into a controlled transaction shall notify the Clerk of any change to the transaction. by lodging a written notice with the Clerk not later than the last day of the period of 30 days beginning with the day on which the change takes effect.
5Section 9 of the Guidance on the Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament.