Committee bill proposed to make MSPs financial interests more transparent
Measures to improve the transparency of information about MSPs’ financial interests are today being proposed by the Scottish parliament’s standards procedures and public appointments committee.
In its report, the result of an inquiry conducted over the course of this session, 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 members’ 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 over the course of this session and before developments elsewhere have come to light.”
Other recommendations contained within the committee’s report include: