Scottish Parliament CPG consultation
30 May 2012
Review of Cross-Party Groups
Call for reviews
SCOTCH WHISKY ASSOCIATION
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is the industry's
representative organisation. Its 51 member companies - Scotch
Whisky distillers, blenders and bottlers - account for over 90% of
Scotch Whisky production and sales. The SWA assisted a number of
MSPs in the setting up of a Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Scotch
Whisky in September 2011. The main purpose of the CPG on Scotch
Whisky is to ensure a
better understanding of Scotch Whisky - one of Scotland's leading
export industries - among members of the Scottish Parliament. The
industry plays a key role in Scotland with regards to the economy,
exports, jobs, tourism, the environment and tackling alcohol
misuse. This Group provides the forum to discuss and answer
questions on these important issues with MSPs from all parties
alongside key people from within the Scotch Whisky industry.
CPGs act as a forum for MSPs, external organisations and members of
the public interested in a particular field to discuss and act on
issues of valuable importance to Scotland, the Scottish economy and
The existence of CPGs allows non-MSPs to engage directly with MSPs
to discuss issues of importance to the particular nature of the
CPG. It aids understanding of the political process for outsiders
while broadening and raising knowledge and awareness of MSPs on
important issues. The CPG on Scotch Whisky allows for a wide range
of topics which relate to Scotch Whisky to be explored and
understood. It is a way to offer MSPs non-political guidance to
help them make informed decisions and effectively scrutinise the
Scottish Government in committees, ask written questions and better
understand the national and local impact of the
The Code of Practice has two sections which relate to CPGs and
these should perhaps be streamlined into one (Volume 2, Section 6:
Regulation of Cross-Party Groups and Volume 3,
Section 6: Regulation of Cross-Party Groups).
"Parliamentary in character" suggests membership is drawn from
several political parties. It would allow where appropriate MSPs to
progress an issue or idea through the Parliament such as drawing
attention to a matter which has secured broad support through a
motion, written question or piece of legislation.
Given the volume of CPGs, 5 MSP members would appear balanced and
sufficient. Given the pressure on MSPs' time a higher threshold
would appear unrealistic.
It would seem reasonable and less bureaucratic that an electronic
copy would be sufficient if a confirmation receipt could be
With only recent experience in the arrangements for conducting a
CPG and the full calendar year not being yet through, the £500
threshold appears rather low for a Group to function without
bureaucracy. Perhaps the threshold should be extended to £1000.
This would not affect the running of a CPG run by the SWA, a trade
association. However, to avoid bureaucracy we would suggest only
information relevant to the work of that particular CPG is required
to be provided.
It would seem reasonable to offer an extension to the
re-registration of CPGs to exclude recess days.
Operation of Cross-Party Groups
Having 2 MSPs present offers a balance. Given the current political
landscape and pressure on MSPs' time, it is difficult to impose a
requirement such as having representation of more than one of the
To maintain momentum and interest, CPGs should hold at least one
meeting in a year. However, some periods will be more active than
others therefore putting a greater minimum requirement could be
Choosing particular fixed dates is a complicated task as diaries
continue to change. It would be reasonable to offer a one month
"grace" period on the deadline for flexibility.
As an external organisation, there is a lot of reliance on the
resource of MSP offices to assist with room bookings, sorting out
guests and catering, organising access to the Parliament, setting
up audio visual facilities. If the external Secretariat had a
visitor pass and ability to take care of these matters, the burden
on Parliament resources would be uplifted.
Alternatively, if the Parliament wished to retain some control,
the original booking could be made by an MSP, with the logistical
arrangements then taken forward by an external
Regulation of Cross-Party Groups
Reasonable rule to continue with the current method.
The current requirements to provide an annual report are
The SWA considers it very useful if there were to be a main point
of call in charge of this area to offer guidance and to ensure key
rules are being adhered to.
It would be useful to have an initial "CPG set-up meeting" with
someone from the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments
Committee to go through the rules and limitations of CPGs.