Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Scottish Parliament Standards Commissioner wants public denied right to make complaints against politicians

One thing you would never imagine hearing might be an Ombudsman or some regulatory body demanding that people not be allowed to make complaints against a service they are using .... but Jim Dyer, the Standards Commissioner for the Scottish Parliament is demanding just that.

Little wonder then that standards at the Scottish Parliament are so low ?

However, if you have a scandal or a complaint against an MSP revealing dirty dealings, then better to take it to the press than take it to Mr Dyer ... or you might manage both and make a fool out of his office too if he writes a glowing report on a bent politician exposed later in the media ....

The Scotsman reports :

Public 'should keep complaints about MSPs' service for elections'

MEMBERS of the public should not be able to complain about their MSPs if they are dissatisfied with the service they receive, Holyrood's standards watchdog claimed yesterday, writes Hamish Macdonell.

Jim Dyer, the Scottish Parliament's Standards Commissioner, said voters could get rid of MSPs at election time if they did not like them, but should not be able to table formal complaints just because they did not agree with the way an MSP dealt with a problem.

Dr Dyer said some people had unrealistic expectations about what their MSP could achieve for them and, because of Holyrood's list system, they could go to one of several other MSPs if they were dissatisfied with the service of an individual.

He said: "Anybody who has dealt with complaints in any kind of public service knows there is always a small group of people who have an unreal sense of injustice about something. They have a very great difficulty in stepping back from it.

"They might range from people saying, 'I wrote to my MSP a month ago and I haven't had a reply', to people saying, 'My MSP has dealt with this for four years and now they are saying there is nothing more I can do about it'."

Dr Dyer stressed that he felt it should be a matter of principle that the service provided by an MSP should not be judged by a standards commissioner or even the Presiding Officer, who handles such complaints.

He said: "The appropriate place is at the ballot box and possibly, because of
the list system used in the parliament, by party leaders."

Earlier, when he addressed Holyrood's standards committee, Dr Dyer said: "I'm not saying MSPs shouldn't be accessible and shouldn't conscientiously represent their constituents. "They are answerable to the electorate and I think the standards system should be reserved for issues of propriety and conduct, issues of transparency over financial interests and that sort of thing."

However, Graham Blount, of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office, told the committee : " I don't think you can say (to a constituent who has a complaint about an MSP] that the next time there is an election then you know what you can do. There should be an avenue for complaint."

The standards committee will produce a report on the complaints procedure against MSPs. A decision on the way forward will then be made by parliament.

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