The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee of the Scottish Parliament has agreed to carry out an inquiry on the Presiding Officer’s proposal that committee conveners should be elected by the whole Parliament. Committee conveners play a key role in scrutinising legislation, holding the Government to account and debating important issues under their remits. The Presiding Officer believes that shifting the responsibility for selecting conveners would strengthen the role of the Parliament and enhance the sharing of the power between the government, the Parliament and the people.
The Scottish Parliament has 17 committees, each of which has a convener. The subject committees scrutinise the work of the Scottish Government, conduct inquiries into subjects within their remit and examine legislation. There are also 7 mandatory committees which carry out specific functions, such as the Public Audit Committee and the Finance Committee. Currently, the membership of committees is decided with regard to the balance of political parties in the Parliament. Membership of a committee is proposed by the Parliamentary Bureau and must be approved by the whole Parliament.
The Parliament also decides, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau, the political party whose members are eligible to be convener of each committee. It is then for members of the committee to choose a convener from amongst those members who are eligible for appointment. The allocation of convenerships also reflects the balance of the political parties in the Parliament. The only formal restriction is that the convener of the Public Audit Committee cannot be a member of a Scottish Government party.
Please find a link to the call for evidence on the inquiry—
The deadline for submissions is 7 February 2015.