A full scale review of parliamentary allowances was announced today by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).
Taking a ‘first principles’ approach, the review will examine all areas of allowances, to establish what resources are required in order to enable MSPs to perform their parliamentary duties and their duties to their constituents effectively.
The review will cover all three main allowance categories:
the Members’ Allowances Scheme,
the Party Leaders’ Allowance Scheme, and
the Equipment & Furniture Scheme.
Announcing the review, Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson said:
"The new SPCB committed itself, as a matter of priority, to working through a range of issues set out in our predecessors’ legacy paper including our budget, services to visitors, and Members’ allowances.
"The SPCB agreed this morning that a full scale review of allowances should be conducted which takes a ‘first principles’ approach to determining the support required to enable MSPs to fulfil their parliamentary and constituency duties.”
The SPCB decided that an independently chaired panel of five individuals should be established to take forward the review process.
The panel will include a majority of independent members. It will also include an SPCB representative, Tom McCabe, together with a former MSP. This balance will ensure that the review panel has direct access to experience of the requirements of Members carrying out parliamentary duties.
The next step is for the full membership of the panel to be established.
The Presiding Officer added:
"We are clear that the process must be thorough in examining all aspects of allowances. We have instructed preparatory work to begin immediately.
"In terms of timing, the review panel will report as soon as practicable, and no later than March 2008.”
The SPCB agreed the following remit:
“To carry out a review of the Members’ Allowances Scheme, Party Leaders’ Allowance Scheme and Equipment & Furniture Scheme.
As part of that consideration, a review panel should have regard to the following:
- What are the tasks expected of Members of the Scottish Parliament?
- What resources are required to enable those tasks to be undertaken effectively and efficiently on behalf of constituents and the Parliament?
- What are the tasks expected of party leaders and should there be a minimum requirement in terms of numbers of elected Members to qualify for payment, and if so, what should this be?
- What resources could best be provided centrally, or through other financial support mechanisms and what resources could be provided through an Allowances Scheme?”