The role of the Scottish Ministers
The Scottish Ministers are ultimately accountable to the Scottish Parliament for the activities of the Convener of the School Closure Review Panels and its use of resources. They are not, however, responsible for day to day operational matters. They are responsible for appointing the Convener of the School Closure Review Panels and approving the terms and conditions of the Convener; providing or ensuring the provision of such property, staff and services to the Convener in exercise of his function as they consider necessary or expedient; and referring local authority school closure proposals ‘called in’ to the Convener (it is for the Ministers to decide whether to call in a closure proposal). They can also issue directions as necessary to the Convener as to the exercise of the Convener’s functions (no such direction has been issued) and make regulations to make further provision as to the procedures to be followed by the School Closure Review Panels when carrying out a review.
In order to fulfil their responsibilities, the Scottish Ministers provide a Grant to fund the operation of both the Convener and the Panels. The Grant is provided to the Scottish Arbitration Centre which has agreed to provide support to the Convener and the Panels.
For clarity, the Scottish Ministers do not have any influence on the Convener’s appointment of Panel members or its selection of individual Panels. Furthermore, the Scottish Ministers have no influence on the decision making of the individual Panels. Both the Convener and the Panels are bodies independent of the Scottish Ministers.