Thursday, 22 January 2009
Motion causing a commotion
When I saw this motion laid down in the Scottish Parliament by Jack McConnell of all people, I nearly choked on my morning coffee. See if you can see why.
S3M-03235 Jack McConnell (Motherwell and Wishaw) (Scottish Labour): Appointment of Chair of the Board of the Scottish Qualifications Authority— That the Parliament notes the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning on Monday 12 January 2009 of the appointment of Councillor Graham Houston as chair of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA); also notes that Councillor Houston also holds a high profile political position in a local authority and that in this role he will be called on to participate in national and local meetings where matters relating to national qualifications will be discussed; further notes that as chair of the SQA he will be called on to make decisions relating to individual schools and local authorities, including on charging policies and performance-related issues; expresses concern about the direct conflict of interest that occurs should one individual hold these two positions, this conflict arising regardless of the abilities, experience and party affiliation of the individual and which would be particularly inappropriate in the context of the management and delivery of examinations and qualifications, which should be independent of party politics, and calls on the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning to recognise this direct conflict of interest and to review the appointment as a matter of urgency.
When, later that day, I saw Jamie Hepburn's amendment, yet again I nearly choked to death on my coffee. Again I invite you to see if you can see why ...
S3M-03235.1 Jamie Hepburn (Central Scotland) (Scottish National Party): Appointment of Chair of the Board of the Scottish Qualifications Authority— As an amendment to motion S3M-3235 in the name of Jack McConnell (Appointment of Chair of the Board of the Scottish Qualifications Authority), leave out from “also notes” to end and insert “believes that this appointment has been conducted in accordance with the robust standards required by the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland’s code of practice; further believes that the system of public appointments in Scotland compares favourably with that of other countries, and also believes that accusations of cronyism and conflicts of interest rarely stand in the way of UK Government ministers making public appointments, for example in the appointment of political figures to traditionally neutral diplomatic overseas postings such as the British High Commission in Malawi.”
Nice one Jamie!