Public confidence in Parliamentary scrutiny essential

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today welcomed a change in the Ministerial Code which means MSPs who are aides to Ministers cannot sit on the committees which scrutinise them.

The potential conflict of interest has been raised repeatedly over the years by the Scottish Greens.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"Over recent years it has become all too common to see MSPs who work directly for Ministers sitting as members of the committees which are supposed to hold them to account, raising a clear conflict of interests. It has taken persistent pressure to challenge this practice, and I am pleased to see that Nicola Sturgeon has finally agreed to end this practice. When the public sees Parliament questioning Ministers about new laws, policy or public spending it’s essential that they can have confidence that MSPs are holding Ministers to account, not the other way around.

"I hope that the Presiding Officer will similarly take the view that PLOs (Parliamentary Liaison Officers) should not be called to hold their own bosses to account in the Chamber – when the public sees MSPs called from the government benches at First Minister’s Questions for example, the questions should come from actual backbenchers, not from those who work for the First Minister."


New guidelines on ministerial aides (Scottish Government)

Scrutiny at Holyrood amounts to no more than a government marking its own work (Patrick writing in the Herald, April 2015)