Committees of the Scottish Parliament


Scottish Parliament committees are small groups of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) who meet on a regular basis to scrutinise the work of the Scottish Government, conduct inquiries into subjects within their remit and examine legislation. Much of the everyday work of the Scottish Parliament is done by these committees.

Committees play a more prominent role in the functioning of the Scottish Parliament than in many other comparable parliamentary systems.[1] Partly this is intended to curb executive dominance, partly to empower backbench members as they carry out the work of scrutinising government, partly to encourage public and expert involvement, and partly due to the unicameral nature of the Scottish Parliament, meaning there is no revising chamber.[2]

Some key committees, known as Mandatory committees, are required by the Scottish Parliament's Standing Orders and are established at the beginning of each session and their remits determined by parliamentary rules.[3] Subject committees deal with a particular subject or area. Many of these Subject committees have been in place in one form or another since the formation of the Scottish Parliament, while others are quickly created and disbanded as circumstances require.[3] A third type of committee may also be established to consider particular issues or pieces of legislation, especially private bills that have been submitted to parliament.[4]

Committees usually have between five and ten MSPs as members, who are selected to reflect the balance of the political parties in parliament as a whole. Committee meetings are held in the committee rooms of the Scottish Parliament Building when parliament is sitting. Committees may also choose to meet at other locations throughout Scotland.[5]

Conveners Group


The Conveners Group is not a committee in the ordinary sense, but is a forum where committee conveners meet to discuss the operation of committees and to liaise with other parliamentary bodies. The Conveners Group makes recommendations regarding the scheduling of committee business in the debating chamber and has the authority to allow committee meetings to take place in locations other than the Scottish Parliament Building. The Conveners Group is chaired by the Presiding Officer or their deputy.[6]

Current committees


Mandatory

Mandatory committees are set down under the Scottish Parliament's Standing Orders, which govern their remits and proceedings. Mandatory committees are established at the beginning of each parliamentary session.

  • Citizen Participation and Public Petitions
The Scottish Parliament’s public petitions process allows members of the public to raise awareness of issues that may not otherwise be debated in parliament. The Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee considers all petitions that meet stipulated guidelines. In addition, the committee aims to improve the way in which the public petitions system functions and also seeks feedback from petitioners about their experiences of petitioning the Scottish Parliament. The committee convener is Jackson Carlaw and David Torrance is deputy convener.
  • Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture
The Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee examines issues relating to culture in Scotland, and scrutinises the Scottish Government's work in this area. The committee's remit includes issues relating to Scotland's links with countries and territories in the European Union and elsewhere. Issues relating to the impact on Scotland of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union are also considered. The committee also considers and reports on constitutional matters within the responsibility of the Scottish Government. Clare Adamson is the committee convener and Donald Cameron is the deputy convener.
  • Delegated Powers and Law Reform
The role of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee is to decide whether or not to grant powers to Scottish ministers to make secondary legislation. If that power is granted, it is then the job of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee and any relevant Subject committee to examine and report on the secondary legislation as it is issued. The committee is convened by Stuart McMillan and the deputy convener is Bill Kidd.
  • Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice
The Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee considers and reports on matters relating to equal opportunities. It also considers human rights matters and the prevention, elimination or regulation of discrimination between persons on the grounds of protected characteristics. The committee convener is Joe FitzPatrick and Maggie Chapman is deputy convener.
  • Finance and Public Administration
The Finance and Public Administration Committee scrutinises the Scottish Government's taxation, spending and borrowing plans. It undertakes analysis of tax revenue forecasts and receipts, the impact of any newly devolved financial powers and the estimated costs of proposed legislation. The committee convener is Kenneth Gibson and Daniel Johnson is deputy convener.
  • Public Audit
The remit of the Public Audit Committee is to consider and report on any accounts laid before parliament, any report made to parliament by the Auditor General for Scotland, or any other document concerning financial control, accounting and auditing in relation to public expenditure. The committee is convened by Richard Leonard and the deputy convener is Sharon Dowey.
  • Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments
The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee examines the rules and procedures that determine how the Scottish Parliament operates. It considers the rules on how MSPs should behave, including what interests they should register, and determines whether MSPs have followed these rules. Other duties include updating the code of conduct for MSPs, scrutinising appointments to public bodies, regulation of lobbying and the operation of elections to the Scottish Parliament. Martin Whitfield is the committee convener and Bob Doris is the deputy convener.

Subject

There are six committee rooms in the Scottish Parliament Building

Subject committees are formed at the beginning of each parliamentary session. These committees typically correspond with one (or more) of the directorates or ministries of the Scottish Government. Additional Subject committees can be created as the need arises, such as the committee established in 2020 to examine the Scottish Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland.[7]

  • COVID-19 Recovery
The COVID-19 Recovery Committee considers and reports on matters relating to COVID-19 falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, matters relating to cross government coordination of COVID-19 recovery policies, and the operation of powers under the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act, the Coronavirus Act and any other legislation in relation to the response to COVID-19. The committee convener is Siobhian Brown and Murdo Fraser is deputy convener.
  • Criminal Justice
The Criminal Justice Committee considers and reports on matters relating to criminal justice falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, and functions of the Lord Advocate other than as head of the systems of criminal prosecution and investigation of deaths in Scotland. Audrey Nicoll is the committee convener and Russell Findlay is the deputy convener.
  • Economy and Fair Work
The Economy and Fair Work Committee considers and reports on matters relating to the Scottish economy falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy. The committee is convened by Claire Baker and the deputy convener is Colin Beattie.
  • Education, Children and Young People
The Education, Children and Young People Committee considers and reports on matters falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and matters relating to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry within the responsibility of the Deputy First Minister. The committee convener is Stephen Kerr and Kaukab Stewart is deputy convener.
  • Health, Social Care and Sport
The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee considers and reports on matters falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care and matters relating to drugs policy. The committee is convened by Gillian Martin and the deputy convener is Paul O'Kane.
  • Local Government, Housing and Planning
The Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee considers and reports on matters relating to local government, housing and planning falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, and matters relating to the Local Government Boundary Commission and local governance review and democratic renewal within the responsibility of the Deputy First Minister. Ariane Burgess is the committee convener and Elena Whitham is the deputy convener.
  • Net Zero, Energy and Transport
The Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee considers and reports on matters falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport. The committee convener is Dean Lockhart and Fiona Hyslop is deputy convener.
  • Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment
The Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee considers and reports on matters falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands. The committee convener is Finlay Carson and the deputy convener is Liam McArthur.
  • Social Justice and Social Security
The Social Justice and Social Security Committee considers and reports on matters falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, excluding matters relating to local government, housing and planning. Neil Gray is the committee convener and Natalie Don is the deputy convener.

Other

Issues not within the scope of the Mandatory or Subject committees, especially the examination of private bills, are considered by separate committees created solely for that purpose. Private bills typically relate to large-scale development projects such as infrastructure projects that require the use of land or property. Such committees have in the past been set up to consider legislation and issues relating to the development of the Edinburgh Trams, the Glasgow Airport rail link, the Airdrie–Bathgate rail link and extensions to the Scottish National Gallery.

Previous committees


First session

  • Audit
  • Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill
  • Education, Culture and Sport
  • Enterprise and Lifelong Learning
  • Equal Opportunities
  • European
  • European and External Relations
  • Finance
  • Health and Community Care
  • Justice and Home Affairs
  • Justice 1
  • Justice 2
  • Local Government
  • National Galleries of Scotland Bill
  • Procedures
  • Public Petitions
  • Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Farm (Navigation and Fishing) (Scotland) Bill
  • Rural Affairs
  • Rural Development
  • Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Bill
  • Scottish Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Bill
  • Social Inclusion, Housing and Voluntary Sector
  • Social Justice
  • Standards
  • Subordinate Legislation
  • Transport and the Environment

Second session

  • Adhoc Standards
  • Airdrie-Bathgate Railway and Linked Improvements Bill
  • Audit
  • Baird Trust Reorganisation Bill
  • Communities
  • Edinburgh Airport Rail Link Bill
  • Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill
  • Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill
  • Education
  • Enterprise and Culture
  • Environment and Rural Development
  • Equal Opportunities
  • European and External Relations
  • Finance
  • Glasgow Airport Rail Link Bill
  • Health
  • Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Bill
  • Justice 1
  • Justice 2
  • Justice 2 Sub
  • Local Government and Transport
  • Procedures
  • Public Petitions
  • Standards
  • Standards and Public Appointments
  • Stirling - Alloa - Kincardine Railway and Linked Improvements Bill
  • Subordinate Legislation
  • Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill

Third session

  • Audit
  • Economy, Energy and Tourism
  • Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture
  • End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill
  • Equal Opportunities
  • European and External Relations
  • Finance
  • Forth Crossing Bill
  • Health and Sport
  • Justice
  • Local Government and Communities
  • Procedures
  • Public Audit
  • Public Petitions
  • Review of SPCB Supported Bodies
  • Rural Affairs and Environment
  • Scotland Bill
  • Scottish Parliamentary Pension Bill
  • Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme
  • Standards and Public Appointments
  • Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments
  • Subordinate Legislation
  • Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change
  • Ure Elder Fund Transfer and Dissolution Bill
  • William Simpson's Home (Transfer of Property etc.) (Scotland) Bill

Fourth session

  • Burrell Collection (Lending and Borrowing) (Scotland) Bill
  • City of Edinburgh Council (Leith Links and Surplus Fire Fund) Bill
  • City of Edinburgh Council (Portobello Park) Bill
  • Delegated Powers and Law Reform
  • Devolution (Further Powers)
  • Economy, Energy and Tourism
  • Education and Culture
  • Equal Opportunities
  • European and External Relations
  • Finance
  • Health and Sport
  • Infrastructure and Capital Investment
  • Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament (Amendment) Bill
  • Justice
  • Justice Sub-Committee on Policing
  • Local Government and Regeneration
  • National Galleries of Scotland Bill
  • National Trust for Scotland (Governance etc.) Bill
  • Pentland Hills Regional Park Boundary Bill
  • Public Audit
  • Public Petitions
  • Referendum (Scotland) Bill
  • Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment
  • Scotland Bill
  • Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments
  • Subordinate Legislation
  • Welfare Reform

Fifth session

  • COVID-19
  • Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints
  • Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations
  • Delegated Powers and Law Reform
  • Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
  • Edinburgh Bakers' Widows' Fund Bill
  • Education and Skills
  • Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
  • Equalities and Human Rights
  • Finance and Constitution
  • Health and Sport
  • Hutchesons' Hospital Transfer and Dissolution (Scotland) Bill
  • Justice
  • Justice Sub-Committee on Policing
  • Local Government and Communities
  • Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission (Scotland) Bill
  • Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny
  • Public Petitions
  • Rural Economy and Connectivity
  • Social Security
  • Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland (Amendment) Bill
  • Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments
  • Writers to the Signet Dependants' Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill

See also


References


  1. "The role of committees". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  2. "Scottish Parliament committees – what are they and what do they do?" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  3. "Democracy in Scotland". BBC. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  4. "Private Bills". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  5. Buchan, Jamie (26 November 2019). "NHS Tayside chiefs to be quizzed on finances, leadership and mental health in Perth". The Courier. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  6. "The Conveners Group". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  7. Davidson, Jenni (17 April 2020). "New Scottish Parliament committee to scrutinise Scottish Government response to coronavirus". Holyrood. Retrieved 25 January 2021.