Proposals to elect Scottish Parliament Committee Conveners are to be examined by the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee in a new inquiry announced today (1 December).
In October, the Presiding Officer, the Rt. Hon Tricia Marwick MSP, set out proposals for the whole Parliament to elect Committee Conveners.
The Presiding Officer believes that elected Conveners would strengthen the role of Parliament and would enhance the sharing of power between the Parliament, the Scottish Government and the Scottish people. Currently the Parliament decides the political party whose members are eligible to be convener of each Committee; Committee Conveners are then chosen by the Committee on that basis.
Convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
"There can be no doubt that these proposals have come at a time of renewed interest not only in politics but also in how the Scottish Parliament operates.
"The past few years has seen a number of changes to the parliamentary process, such as the introduction of topical questions and the change in sitting patterns. Our Committee will examine if elected conveners should be the next step in this process.
"Our Committee wants to hear from those with an interest in this issue, about whether and indeed how these proposals would work in practice."
The Committee is asking a range of questions in its call for views. These include:
- If there would be any barriers to conveners being elected by the whole Parliament?
- What would the benefits and disadvantages of elected conveners?
- How should nominations be made and what level of support should be required for a Member's name to be out forward?
- How should the vote be carried out? Should this be done by secret ballot or some other means?
- Should parties continue to be allocated conveners in a way that is proportional to their overall number of seats in Parliament?
In October 2014, the Presider Officer wrote to the Committee inviting them to look into the proposal with a view to having the process in place for the start of the next parliamentary session in 2016.
A copy of the Presiding Officer’s letter can be found via the link below:
The Committee's call for evidence is open until 7 February 2015 with more detail available on the Committee's web page: