Sunday, 20 November 2011
Are Our MSPs Work-shy?
According to today's Express, Scotland's MSPs are work-shy- a generalisation possibly quite unfair to the majority.
Tricia Marwick, the parliament's Presiding Officer, wants to expand the hours parliamentarians are present in Holyrood. Currently they are only required to be there one and a half days a week. Debates are held on Wednesday afternoons and Thursdays, with committee members also required at Holyrood every second Tuesday. Sessions are always completed by 5pm and there are no late night debates.
Mrs Marwick proposes a change to debates on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons with committees held in the mornings.
Neil Findlay, a Lothians Labour MSP, wants the status quo to be retained because his work hours are already excessive. He's been forced to pay for a hotel room in Edinburgh four times in the past seven months after attending late-night functions. He sounds a bit of a whinger and could do with being seconded to an army colonel - who receives roughly the same salary - for a week or two.
In large organisations there are always individuals who are more skilled at 'being busy doing nothing' than their colleagues. Going back some years, I can recall a senior of mine who contributed nothing to the business, but he was beyond reproach because, as I later discovered, he was related to the managing director. Give the man his due his attendance was perfect, his appearance referred to as 'dapper' and he had a genuinely happy persona. He perfected the art of wandering round the building always carrying bundles of documents and conversing with anyone he happened to meet. His job title was 'project manager' but no projects were ever produced.
Therefore, being 'at the office' will not ensure MSPs are any more productive than they are now, although I'm sure that few spend three and a half days in their constituencies meeting their electorate.
Where improvement could be made, even though it's superficial, is in the number of MSPs who attend debates in the Chamber. For the majority of debates there are often less than 10 politicians present and as these events are broadcast, the emptiness conveys an apathy to the viewer. Perhaps a ruling insisting 50% of MSPs attend each debate may inject some vitality into these proceedings.
The proposals will be discussed by the Standards Committee on Tuesday while on Thursday, Mark Griffin's question (number 12), 'to ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to consult on introducing a ban on smoking in cars carrying children' will be answered. Two broadcasts I'll be closely observing.
Note: I wonder if Alex Salmond's relative will send him a copy of her latest book for in time for Christmas.