Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) are firstly and lastly public servants.
They are elected to represent their constituents for a five-year term and, at the end of their tenure, voters take a view on their record and decide whether they are worthy of re-election.
However, I consider the existing checks and balances on members’ performance in their role during those five years to be insufficient.
Unlike many other professions, MSPs are not subject to performance reviews. In any other workplace there would be processes to manage poor attendance, which could ultimately see someone lose their job.
That is why my party called for the passing of a law in its 2021 Scottish Parliament Election manifesto so that MSPs who do not carry out the key elements of the job that they were elected to do can be removed.
And that is why I am beginning the process of developing a Member’s Bill on establishing processes to achieve this.
This bill is made up of the following three elements:
The first element of my proposal would enable an MSP to be removed from office automatically due to a lack of participation in proceedings at Parliament, unless there was a valid reason provided, such as maternity leave or ill health.
The second element of my proposal is to strengthen the current disqualification provisions where an MSP is sentenced to prison. At present, MSPs are automatically removed from office when they are sentenced to prison for more than one year. I believe this threshold should be lower.
The third element of my proposal is to consider establishing a system of recall for MSPs.
In all parties, the vast majority of parliamentarians go into politics with the intention of serving their constituents dutifully and to the best of their ability. However, in all parties, there are examples where representatives have abused their position or have failed to meet the standards that the public have a right to expect.
To submit your views and find out more please visit: www.parliament.scot/MSP-removal-from-office
To view the consultation responses or read the SPICE briefing please visit the relevant pages on my website.
I look forward to hearing from the public, interested stakeholders and my parliamentary colleagues on these proposals.
Graham Simpson MSP