Explanatory Notes

Scotland Act 1998

1998 CHAPTER 46

19th November 1998


SECTION 20: Clerk of the Parliament.

Purpose and Effect

This section provides for the appointment of a Clerk of the Parliament, who is an employee of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB). The section also provides for an Assistant Clerk to act in place of the Clerk in the event of the office being vacant or where circumstances exist preventing the Clerk from undertaking his functions. Authority is also provided for the Clerk to delegate his functions to any Assistant Clerk or other Parliamentary staff.


This section is linked to section 21 providing for the establishment of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) which oversees the administration of the Parliament and represent it in legal matters. It also appoints the Clerk.

Paragraph 3(1) of Schedule 2 requires the SPCB to appoint Assistant Clerks and also allows it to appoint other staff. The Clerk and other persons appointed by the SPCB are the staff of the Parliament whose terms and conditions of appointment are determined by the SPCB - see paragraph 3(2) and (3) of that Schedule. Paragraph 5 enables the SPCB to delegate any of its functions to the Presiding Officer (elected under section 19), or to the Clerk.

The Clerk has statutory functions under sections 24 (giving notice to witnesses) and 28 (writing the date of Royal Assent on Acts of the Scottish Parliament). Other functions are conferred upon the Clerk by the Standing Orders.

Provision was made for the appointment of a Temporary Clerk for the period before a permanent appointment was made by the Scotland Act 1998 (Transitory and Transitional Provisions) (Administration of the Parliament) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1098).

Parliamentary Consideration


Details of Provisions

Subsection (1) establishes the office of Clerk of the Parliament. The Clerk is the senior official and plays a major role in the workings of the Parliament.

Subsection (2) provides for the Clerk to be appointed by the SPCB.

Subsections (3) and (4) provide for any Assistant Clerk appointed by the SPCB to exercise the functions of the Clerk, if the office of Clerk is vacant or the Clerk is unable to act for any reason. The Clerk also has the power to authorise any Assistant Clerk or other member of the staff of the Parliament, appointed by the SPCB, to carry out functions on his behalf.+