Independent examination to be carried out on Holyrood's expenses system


Sir Neil McIntosh is to be appointed to carry out an independent examination of Holyrood’s expenses system, it was announced today by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).

The examination will take account of any findings which emerge from the current reviews of parliamentary expenses being carried out at Westminster and the Welsh Assembly which may be of relevance to Scotland.

With a full-scale independent review of the Scottish Parliament’s Reimbursement of Members’ Expenses scheme completed only last year, the move is not expected to bring about wholesale change in Holyrood’s current system. Sir Neil will, however, be free to consider any aspect of the scheme he considers appropriate.

Sir Neil will be asked to make recommendations to the Scottish Parliament before the end of 2009.

The Parliament’s Presiding Officer, Alex Fergusson MSP, said: “The Scottish Parliament has been held up in many respects as a benchmark of good practice. The Corporate Body, with strong support from all the main party leaders in the Parliament, wants to ensure it continues to be seen in that light and that any opportunities for further improvements are embraced.

"I am extremely grateful that Sir Neil has agreed to take on this role. His credentials as a man of independent mind make him ideally suited to the task and we welcome his involvement.”

On the scope of the independent examination, the Presiding Officer added: “The primary objective will be for us to build, where appropriate, on our current system rather than in any sense start again.”

Background information
The remit as agreed by the SPCB and main party leaders is:

To consider the Reimbursement of Members’ Expenses Scheme and report to the Corporate Body on whether any changes are desirable, taking account of the fact that

  • the scheme was recently introduced following an independent review led by Sir Alan Langlands; and
  • that it is generally regarded as working well. 

Consideration should focus, in particular, on:

  • whether the key elements of the scheme could be expected to continue to command public confidence; and
  • are fair to Members in undertaking their Parliamentary duties. 

Account should be taken of any proposals emerging from the reviews of allowances elsewhere in the United Kingdom which are considered relevant to Scotland.

Commencing mid-July
Sir Neil will begin work in mid-July, when one of his first tasks will be to establish a methodology for his examination. He will not receive remuneration for the work, although travel and other reasonable expenses will be met by the SPCB.

Biographical information
From 1992 until 1996, Sir Neil was chief executive of Strathclyde Regional Council. Prior to that he was chief executive of Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council, where he co-ordinated the council's response to the Lockerbie air disaster and was awarded the CBE in 1990.

He has served as an Electoral Commissioner, acted as Chief Counting Officer for the Scottish Parliamentary Referendum in 1997 and Returning Officer for the Strathclyde Water Referendum. He was awarded a knighthood in June 2000.

A leading authority on local government issues, Sir Neil chaired the Commission on Local Government and the Scottish Parliament in 1998/99 and acted as Adviser to the Northern Ireland Review of Public Administration from 2002-2005.

His previous public appointments include Convener of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland and Trustee of National Museums Scotland.  He is currently a Civil Service Commissioner, a member of the BBC Audience Council for Scotland and President of the Dumfries Theatre Royal Trust.

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