Search Legislation

Scottish Parliamentary Standards (Sexual Harassment and Complaints Process) Act 2021

Section 1 – Complaints about past sexual harassment

10.Section 1 amends section 3 of the 2002 Act so as to enable the Commissioner to investigate complaints alleging past sexual harassment by an MSP (that is, someone who was an MSP at the time of the conduct complained about) of a member of that MSP’s own staff, including any staff employed jointly by that member with other members under a pooling arrangement.

11.The main provision by which it does this is section 1(2)(b), which inserts a new subsection (4A) into section 3 of the 2002 Act. Under that new subsection, two paragraphs of the 7 January 2020 version of the Code of Conduct – in so far as they relate to sexual harassment by a member of the Parliament of their own staff – must be treated as if they had always been part of the Code.

12.Section 1(2)(a) extends the definition of “relevant provision” (in section 3(3) of the 2002 Act) so it not only covers provisions that were in force at the relevant time but also those treated (under new subsection (4A)) as having been in force at the relevant time.

13.The effect is to allow the Commissioner to investigate a breach of a “relevant provision” of the Code (about the sexual harassment by an MSP of their own staff) in respect of conduct alleged to have taken place prior to 7 January 2020.

14.Prior to 7 January 2020, the courtesy and respect provisions of the Code applied to the treatment of other MSPs, parliamentary staff (including contractors) and the staff of other MSPs. There was no explicit provision relative to an MSP’s treatment of their own staff. Without section 1, therefore, a complaint that an MSP sexually harassed a member of the MSP’s own staff in the period before 7 January 2020 could be dismissed by the Commissioner as inadmissible, on the grounds that the conduct complained about did not breach a “relevant provision”.

15.The two paragraphs of the Code (7 January 2020 version) referred to in section 1 of the Act read as follows (extract from Section 7: MSPs’ general conduct):

Treatment of others


Members must treat the following individuals with courtesy and respect:

  • other MSPs;

  • parliamentary staff (including contractors providing services to the Parliament);

  • their own staff and the staff of other MSPs.


Members must not behave in a manner towards these individuals that involves bullying, harassment (including sexual harassment) or any other inappropriate behaviour.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources