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PLOs & their Committee memberships

Conflicts of interest addressed (partially) by Ministers ahead of Holyrood's return

An updated version of the Scottish Ministerial Code has been published, which confirms that MSPs who act as Parliamentary Liaison Officers will no longer be able to serve on the principal committee which scrutinises the portfolio to which they are attached. This is a reversal of the Scottish Government’s previous position which has recently come under criticism from opposition parties. First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “I believe that the Parliamentary Liaison Officers who are currently in post fulfil that requirement admirably, and there has been no evidence of any conflict of interest. At the same time, I have listened carefully to the case made by those calling for change, and so the updated guidelines I am publishing today will remove even the perception of any conflict of interest in the role of PLOs.”

As a next step (on Thursday 1st September), changes have been announced to the list of Parliamentary Liaison Officer (PLO) appointments:

  • George Adam is no longer a PLO for Communities, Social Security & Equalities, leaving Mairi Evans the sole appointee to this portfolio.
  • Gillian Martin moves from Economy, Jobs & Fair Work (jointly held with Ivan McKee) to be PLO for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform (replacing Angus MacDonald who leaves the PLO team).
  • Fulton McGregor moves from Justice to Health & Sport, in a direct switch with Tom Arthur who moves from Health & Sport to Justice.
  • All other appointments remain in place.  

These tweaks will immediately remove some of the conflicts of interest and allow some PLOs to retain committee membership. But for others, changes to the membership of committees will still need to be brought forward upon Parliament’s return next week.

Below, we've listed the current committee roles held by PLOs (current and recently departed). Any underlined names look likely to be replaced, based on our interpretation of the guidance. Some committee memberships will be retained if they are not deemed the 'principal' scrutiny committee. In particular, it remains to be seen how this is interpreted for PLOs appointed to the Office of the First Minister and for other potentially cross-cutting committees, such as Economy, Jobs & Fair Work.

Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee

Ash Denham - PLO for Culture & Tourism & External Affairs

Gillian Martin - PLO for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform

Education & Skills Committee

Jenny Gilruth - PLO for Education & Skills

Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee

Emma Harper - PLO for Rural Economy & Connectivity

Gail Ross - PLO to the First Minister

Angus MacDonald - no longer PLO

Europe & External Relations Committee

Ash Denham - PLO for Culture & Tourism & External Affairs

Finance Committee

Kate Forbes - PLO Finance & Constitution

Ivan McKee - PLO Economy, Jobs & Fair Work

Ash Denham - PLO for Culture & Tourism & External Affairs

Health & Sport Committee

Tom Arthur - PLO for Justice

Ivan McKee - PLO Economy, Jobs & Fair Work

Justice Committee

Mairi Evans - PLO for Communities, Social Security & Equalities

Ben Macpherson - PLO to the First Minister

Fulton MacGregor - PLO for Health & Sport

Local Government & Communities Committee

Mairi Evans - PLO for Communities, Social Security & Equalities

Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee

Gail Ross - PLO to the First Minister

Social Security Committee

Ben Macpherson - PLO to the First Minister

George Adam - no longer a PLO

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