Kezia Dugdale vows to ban MSPs holding paid directorships

Kezia Dugdale will this week promise a series of reforms to Holyrood, including a ban on MSPs holding paid directorships and consultancies and measures to make the Scottish Parliament more accountable.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale joins cycle campaigners in Edinburgh. Picture: Jon Savage

The proposals will be contained in Scottish Labour’s manifesto, which will finally be launched this week as the Scottish election campaign enters its final full week.

With victory and a majority for Nicola Sturgeon looking like a foregone conclusion, Labour will unveil pledges designed to help opposition MSPs provide more checks to government in a parliamentary system that was never designed to be dominated by one party in the way the SNP has in recent years.

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Labour will call for new rules that will prevent the majority party from holding the majority of Holyrood committee convenerships.

Similarly, Labour believes the majority party should not provide the MSP who becomes Presiding Officer.

In the last parliament, the SNP’s dominance ensured that nationalist MSPs were put in charge of the committees responsible for scrutinising legislation.

The SNP majority also ensured that a long-standing SNP MSP was elected Presiding Officer.

Labour’s manifesto will say that the freeze on ministers’ pay should be continued and will call for a ban on paid directorships and consultancies in the interests of openness and transparency.

Labour believes that MSPs should not come to parliament with vested interests.

Yesterday the Scottish Labour Reform spokeswoman Mary Fee said: “It was Labour who led the campaign for the Scottish Parliament and now, with new powers coming to Holyrood, it will be Labour who reforms the Scottish Parliament to make it more open, transparent and accountable.

“Labour will establish new rules so that if a party has a majority in the parliament then they should not hold a majority of committee convenerships.

“The Presiding Officer should not come from the same party as a majority government in the future. People need to have faith that the government is being held to account in parliament.

“Being a MSP should be an honour. That’s why we will ban MSPs from holding paid directorships and consultancies. Vested interests should never be a question in how MSPs of any party vote.”

Yesterday the Scottish Conservatives took issue with the plans to prevent MSPs from having other incomes from directorships and consultancies.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “While we agree politics should be transparent, it’s important MSPs are able to have interests outwith Holyrood.

“That will benefit the quality of debate, bringing valuable experience to the chamber from the outside world politicians are supposed to be trying to improve.”

A SNP spokeswoman said: “This just shows how behind the times Labour really are. Ministerial pay has been frozen since 2008 with SNP ministers ensuring over £250,000 of additional funding has gone into Scottish Government funds for spending on public services, and the lobbying bill put through the last Parliament by the SNP Government ensures that we have the highest possible standards for all MSPs of any party. 

“In fact, it is the parliament’s transparency that shows that Labour’s Richard Simpson has held a paid directorship of a care home throughout the last parliament whilst serving as health spokesperson and a member of the health committee.”