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Scotland Act 1998


This section should be read with sections 24, 25 and 26 which form the general package of provisions which confers upon the Parliament and its committees the necessary powers to scrutinise and investigate matters. These provisions are essential to ensure that the Scottish Parliament is able to hold the Scottish Executive and other bodies to account and to investigate and scrutinise any subject for which any member of the Scottish Executive has general responsibility. The Standing Orders of the Parliament make further provision in this regard.

On 1 November 2000, the Parliament approved a motion setting out certain principles which it commended to Committees as guidelines to be followed by them when seeking official information from the Scottish Executive and in particular exchanges between officials and Ministers on policy issues. The motion made it clear that, as part of its policy of openness, the Executive should make as much information as possible publicly available; that, while officials can provide Committees with factual information, the Committees should look to Ministers to account for the policy decisions which they have taken and that “where, exceptionally, Committees find it necessary to scrutinise exchanges between officials and Ministers on policy issues, arrangements should be made to ensure that the confidentiality of those exchanges is respected”. In other words, in the exceptional case where a Committee may find it necessary to look at these exchanges, it should, rather than seeking to require their production publicly in exercise of its powers under section 23, be prepared to enter into arrangements in terms of which it can see the documents in confidence.

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