79. At Stage 2 of a Bill, any MSP may lodge amendments which will be debated subject to satisfying the criteria of admissibility. These provisions therefore allow a convener of a committee which is considering the Bill at Stage 2 to lodge amendments in his or her own name.
80. However, there can be certain practical difficulties for a convener who wishes to lodge amendments:
- conveners are responsible, in terms of Rule 9.10.4 for “determining any dispute” in relation to the admissibility of an amendment. In most cases this issue will not arise, as it is the clerk who is responsible, in the first instance, for ruling on admissibility. If that decision is accepted then a convener faces no conflict. However, a convener who does not accept the clerk's ruling on admissibility of his or her amendment, is then required to “determine” the matter. There is nothing in Standing Orders which would prevent a convener determining a dispute in relation to his or own amendment. However, to do so could leave a convener open to a suggestion that he or she has breached Section 2.8 of the Code of Conduct, which requires a member to resolve any conflict of interest in a way which protects the public interest. Accordingly, in such a situation, it is recommended that a convener should consider him or herself “unable” to act and ask the deputy convener to determine the dispute.
- conveners may find it difficult to both chair meetings and participate fully in a debate on his or her amendment.
- conveners are required to use a casting vote in the event of a tied vote. Standing Orders are silent on how the casting vote should be used and there is no recognised convention or practice (for example that the casting vote would always be used to vote against an amendment).
81. Conveners could consider asking another member to lodge amendments for them, but this may not be an attractive option either in practical or political terms.
82. So far as debating the amendments are concerned, where a committee has a deputy convener, the Standing Orders do allow the convener to leave the chair and hand over to the deputy for part of the meeting. This would resolve the issues of participating fully in the debate; however, the option may not always be attractive. The deputy convener may also be in the position of having lodged amendments or may wish to participate fully in the debate on the conveners amendment. The deputy convener, when in the chair, would also be in the position of using the casting vote in the event of a tie.