Remit and Membership
1. The remit of the Finance Committee is to consider and report
(a) any report or other document laid before the Parliament
by members of the Scottish Executive containing proposals
for, or budgets of, public expenditure or proposals for the
making of a tax-varying resolution, taking into account any
report or recommendations concerning such documents made to
them by any other committee with power to consider such documents
or any part of them;
(b) any report made by a committee setting out proposals
concerning public expenditure;
(c) Budget Bills; and
(d) any other matter relating to or affecting the expenditure
of the Scottish Administration or other expenditure payable
out of the Scottish Consolidated Fund.
2. The Committee may also consider and, where it sees fit,
report to the Parliament on the timetable for the Stages of
Budget Bills and on the handling of financial business.
3. In these Rules, "public expenditure" means expenditure
of the Scottish Administration, other expenditure payable out
of the Scottish Consolidated Fund and any other expenditure
met out of taxes, charges and other public revenue.
Mike Watson (Convener)
Elaine Thomson (Deputy Convener)
Donald Gorrie (from 8 January 2001)
Dr Richard Simpson
Rhoda Grant (until 8 January 2001)
George Lyon (until 8 January 2001)
Kenneth Macintosh (until 8 January 2001)
Alex Neil (from 2 November 2000 to 8 January 2001)
Keith Raffan (until 8 January 2001)
John Swinney (until 1 November 2000)
Contact Telephone and Email
The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows-
1. The membership of the Committee changed on 1 November
2000 with Alex Neil replacing John Swinney. Subsequent changes
in the membership of the Committee were due to a decision by
the Parliament to reduce the membership from 11 members to 7.
These changes were effective from 8 January 2001.
Priorities and Inquiries
2. The principal task of the Finance Committee will always
be to co-ordinate the Parliament's response to the Scottish
Executive's budget proposals. Over the course of the 2001/02
budget process, (including the passage of the Budget Act 2001)
the vast majority of Members were involved (whether as members
of the ten committees scrutinising spending plans or as Ministers
being held to account). Indeed the Finance Committee alone took
evidence from the Minister for Finance and Local Government
(or his deputy) six times in connection with budgetary matters.
3. Such scrutiny has thrown the budget process open to participation
by a wide range or interest groups and organisations. The Finance
Committee is committed to engaging with the people of Scotland
on these matters. Accordingly the Committee took evidence in
Aberdeen from local councils, business organisations, educational
establishments and voluntary sector groups to see how the proposed
budget would impact on the services available to Aberdeenshire
4. The budget process is certainly not without its flaws and
the Finance Committee is committed to making sure that truly
informed scrutiny can take place. The key issue to be tackled
now is to ensure that the budgetary data provided by the Executive
is relevant and robust. Despite the shortcomings in the current
process, specific expenditure re-allocations were made in the
Budget Act as a result of the budget process, notably increases
in the budget of Victim Support Scotland and the size of the
mental illness specific grant.
5. In this period, the Committee has undertaken other major
pieces of work which underpin its budgetary work.
· Inquiry into resource accounting and budgeting.
6. RAB has added around £1.2 billion to the size of the
Scottish Budget and the Committee inquired into how it was being
implemented and, specifically, to ascertain whether lessons
could be learned to ensure that this major change in government
practice was more than just an accountancy exercise.
Furthermore, the Committee made sure it was aware of best practice
by taking evidence, via video conference, from a highly respected
Professor in New Zealand. Appropriately for the Finance Committee,
a valuable insight was obtained at a fraction of the cost of
travelling to meet her in person.
· External research
7. The Finance Committee was the first committee to commission
independent research to aid its work. Professor Arthur Midwinter
produced research on the real level of inflation in public spending
together with an analysis of the extent to which discretion
exists in determining the allocation of resources across the
public services. This will have a direct and positive effect
on the Parliament's input into the budget process.
8. In addition to its involvement in the Budget Bill, the Finance
Committee reported on the financial memorandums of 11 Scottish
Executive Bills, as well as 1 Member's Bill.
9. In the last parliamentary year the Finance Committee has
considered 4 Scottish Statutory Instruments, three of which
involved amending Budget Acts, thereby implementing changes
to the make-up of the Scottish Budget..
10. From 11 May 2000 to 10 May 2001, the Committee met 29 times.
1 of these meetings was held entirely in private; 25 were held
partly in private. Of these 29 meetings, 28 were held in Edinburgh,
1 was held in Aberdeen.