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Meeting date: Thursday, May 12, 2022

Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee 12 May 2022

Agenda: Decision on Taking Business in Private, Cross-Party Group, Scottish Local Government Elections (Candidacy Rights of Foreign Nationals) Bill: Stage 2


Scottish Local Government Elections (Candidacy Rights of Foreign Nationals) Bill: Stage 2

Item 4 is stage 2 proceedings on the Scottish Local Government Elections (Candidacy Rights of Foreign Nationals) Bill. I welcome George Adam, the Minister for Parliamentary Business, who joins us remotely along with his officials. I highlight the fact that officials are not to speak on the record during these proceedings.

No amendments have been lodged for this stage, so the only requirement is to agree the four sections of the bill and its long title. Before we do so, I thank the minister for attending and ask him whether he wishes to make any comments or whether he is happy for the letter that he sent us and the earlier evidence given to the committee to stand as the official record of the Government’s position.

Thank you, convener. If you will indulge me, I will make a brief statement on the bill. As members will recall, it is a limited, single-purpose bill. It seeks to ensure compliance with treaties that the United Kingdom Government has agreed in relation to candidacy rights in local government elections.

I welcome the Scottish Parliament’s unanimous support of the bill at stage 1 and the committee’s continuing scrutiny of it. As no amendments have been lodged for consideration at stage 2, I have nothing further to add.

I am grateful for that, George.

Before we move on to formal consideration of the bill, do committee members have any questions on the procedure?

I do not have a question on the procedure, but can I ask a question of the minister?

I am more than happy for you to ask a question, and then I will invite the minister to respond.

When we took evidence from the minister at stage 1, he said that he would lodge an appropriate amendment at stage 2, which he has not done. I would like to understand his rationale for not doing what he said he was going to do. I am sure that there is a perfectly good reason, but I would like him to explain it to us.

The minister has written to the committee, and that letter stands as evidence and explains the position. However, I am more than happy to give him the opportunity to explain the anomaly—let me call it that—if he would like to.

There is nothing to add to the letter, apart from to say that it was our intention to lodge an amendment but, in discussions with the UK Government, we found that it would create problems and difficulties on the UK side as opposed to ours and that the UK Government did not consider the matter to be a problem. Rather than have an argument with it about something that neither of us considered to be a serious problem, we decided that it would be best not to lodge an amendment. That is a simple summary of the position.

Are you content, Edward?

I am content for that to be on the record and that no argument was required.

Sections 1 to 4 agreed to.

Long title agreed to.

That ends stage 2 consideration of the bill. I thank the minister and his officials for attending.

I move the meeting into private for consideration of item 5.

09:42 Meeting continued in private until 11:02.