Holyrood’s Finance & Constitution Committee asks expert panel to examine the scrutiny challenges for the next parliamentary session


A panel of fiscal, economic and constitutional experts has been established by a Holyrood Committee.  It has been asked to identify the main ‘scrutiny challenges’ that will arise in the Finance and Constitution portfolio over the next five-year term of the Scottish Parliament.

The Parliament’s Finance & Constitution Committee is conducting an inquiry into the subject to help inform its successor committee that will inherit a challenging economic and political landscape.

The remit of the inquiry acknowledges that devolution is becoming increasingly complex.  The experts will consider the combined effects of Scotland’s recent tax powers, the fiscal framework and the constitutional change that Brexit will bring.  All of which will be set against a backdrop of the economic impact of Covid 19.

Finance & Constitution Committee Convener Bruce Crawford MSP said:

“Whether it is budget setting or the constitution, our job is to scrutinise and to hold the government of the day to account.  And that task will be increasingly complex in the next Parliament.

“Trying to assess the policies and performance of government at a time of unprecedented economic turmoil and constitutional change will not be easy. 

“We have therefore invited a panel of experts to offer their collective wisdom on where the main scrutiny challenges will lie on finance and constitution.   Their input will help shape our legacy paper to our successors.

“This is not an easy task and I’m grateful to each and every one of our experts for giving their time and wisdom generously.”

The remit of the committee’s inquiry is as follows:

“As devolution becomes increasingly complex, what are the main scrutiny challenges that any future Finance and Constitution Committee will face in the next Parliament and how should it evolve to meet those challenges.”

As a first step the committee has created a panel that will comprise external experts along with the committee’s current advisers.

The expert panel will consider:

• The devolution of further powers through the Scotland Act 2016, following the recommendations of the Smith Commission.
• The operation of the UK/Scottish Government’s Fiscal Framework including in response to COVID-19.
• The constitutional impact of Brexit on devolution.

The Committee will then have an opportunity to consider findings from the panel with a view to informing its legacy paper. It is likely that the panel’s report will be published alongside the final legacy paper in spring 2021. 

The panel members, in alphabetical order, are:

• Charlotte Barbour, Director of Tax, ICAS
• Douglas Fraser, Business & Economy Editor, BBC Scotland
• Professor Michael Keating, Centre on Constitutional Change
• Professor James Mitchell, University of Edinburgh
• Christine O’Neill QC, Chairman, Brodies LLP
• Mairi Spowage, Deputy Director, Fraser of Allander Institute
• Mark Taylor, Audit Director Audit Scotland
• Dr Hannah White, Deputy Director, Institute of Government.

They will be joined by Professor Tom Mullen, Professor Kenneth Armstrong and David Phillips who are Advisers to the Committee.  Dr Jim Johnston Clerk to the Committee will chair the group.  The Group will be supported by parliament officials.

Find more information about the Finance & Constitution Committee here.

Media contact

Eric MacLeod

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