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6 March 2015

Greater transparency for Member’s financial interests proposed

Measures to improve the transparency of information about MSPs' financial interests are today (6 March) being proposed by the Scottish Parliament’s Standards Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

In its report, the result of a detailed inquiry conducted over a number of months, the Committee proposes a committee bill to amend the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006 which sets out requirements for Members to register and declare certain financial interests.

The new bill is aimed at streamlining the reporting requirements for MSPs so that all their registrable financial interests are reported in one place, in the Parliament’s register of interest. Currently MSPs have to report financial interests both to the Electoral Commission and to the Parliament.

The proposals would also strengthen the sanctions available to the Parliament to deal with breaches to Member’s interests rules as well as widening the definition of paid advocacy.

Committee Convener, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Parliament prides itself on its openness and accountability and nowhere is this more important than in relation to the conduct of its Members. Our proposed bill will not only build on the existing robust regime, but will also streamline reporting for MSPs, ensuring all information about MSPs’ financial interests is in one easily accessible place for the public.

“We have also suggested broadening the definition of paid advocacy. Whilst no MSP has ever been found to have breached the current rules, the Committee is clear of the gravity with which paid advocacy should be treated. This is why our Committee is proposing an expansion to the scope of the criminal offence.”

Mr Stevenson added:

“This is a piece of work that our Committee has been examining for a number of months and before developments elsewhere have come to light.”

Other recommendations contained within the Committee’s report include:
  • Lowering the threshold limit for registering gifts to 0.5% of a member’s salary (currently 1% or £570)
  • Amending the threshold for registering remuneration received solely as expenses from 1% to 0.5% of a member’s salary.
  • Increasing the range of sanctions available if a member breaches the Interests Act, to include withdrawal of salary or privileges as well as exclusion from Parliamentary proceedings.
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