Ken Macintosh to meet with party representatives to discuss gender balance of parliamentary bodies

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 9 November 2017 in News

Both the Parliamentary Bureau, which makes decisions on debates and committee membership in parliament, and the Corporate Body, which makes decisions on parliamentary property, staff and services, have an all-male membership

Ken Macintosh - image credit: David Anderson

Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh will meet with party representatives to discuss attempts to achieve a gender balance in the membership of key parliamentary decision-making bodies, following growing concern over sexual harassment in politics.

Both the Parliamentary Bureau, which makes decisions on debates and committee membership in parliament, and the Corporate Body, which makes decisions on parliamentary property, staff and services, have an all-male membership.

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale this week called on members of the Corporate Body (SPCB) to resign and be replaced by a more gender balanced group, while Joe FitzPatrick, the Minister for Parliamentary Business, also called for changes to the make-up of the Scottish Parliament governing body.


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Speaking in FMQs, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The situation of there being no women on the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body is unacceptable and will have to be addressed and resolved by the Parliament.

“We, as a Parliament, are about to consider legislation about gender balance on public bodies, and the Parliament has a duty to lead by example. That is a matter for the whole Parliament to address, but I think that I am making my views on the issue pretty clear.”

Writing to MSPs, Macintosh said that although changes to the bureau “should be straightforward”, given parties choose which members to nominate for membership, he warned that “any change to the SPCB's number or composition would require rule changes” and the approval of parliament.

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee today announced it will conduct an inquiry into the Code of Conduct for MSPs to ensure it remains fit for purpose.

In his letter, Macintosh said: “Changing the membership of the SPCB, as you and Members may know, requires the agreement of the whole Parliament, and any change to the SPCB's number or composition would require rule changes.

“I would note however, that in previous sessions, the SPCB has included female members and, in fact, last session had a majority of women. This leads me to firmly believe that it is possible for political parties to work constructively together to achieve greater gender balance on the SPCB now.”

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