Complaints made to the First Minister concerning conduct of MSPs: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/03733  
Date received: 17 December 2018  
Date responded: 17 January 2019
Information requested
Q1: A list of all complaints made to the office of the First Minister concerning the conduct of MSPs under the whip of the Scottish National Party or Scottish ministers (and if the information is available, what steps were taken to resolve the issue) - please note, issues could also include allegations  of sexual  harassment.
Q2: A breakdown of the amount that Bute House has spent on receptions, including the total cost of food and drinks, from 2014-present (broken down by year and month).
Q3: Any complaints made to any department of the Scottish Government about the conduct of the current First Minister since she took office.
Q4: A breakdown of the total cost of the First Minister's accommodation, broken down by month and year, since she took office.
Q5: A full list of the First Minister's proposed international visits in 2019 and 2020, including a breakdown  of the estimated costs.
QI: Please note that any complaints regarding an MSP is a matter for the Presiding Officer to investigate under section 8 of the code of conduct. Section 8 of the Code of Conduct.
Contact details: Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP or e-mail
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you  have requested.
Q2: Since 2014, there have been 83 receptions at Bute House, costing a total of £71,985.47 . This includes receptions hosted by other Scottish Government Ministers, as well as the First Minister.
Engagements and events are an essential part of official Government business. These important events support charities and good causes, promote Scottish business and the economy, and pursue and support the development and discussion of key Scottish policies.

As urgent repairs and conservation work was required at Bute House in October 2017, no receptions could be hosted there for a period of approximately 6 months. Following the completion of the work, there has been an increase in the number of receptions at Bute House, which has helped showcase the restored category A listed Georgian building, part of Edinburgh's New  Town World  Heritage  site.

The costs for receptions typically include food and drink, waiting staff and the hire of equipment, table linen and crockery, as required. We enforce a consistent policy regarding hospitality, which ensures that all hospitality is appropriate and considers value for money at all times.

Attached is a breakdown by year and month.


Q3: The Scottish Government has not received any complaints about the conduct of the First Minister since she took  office.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the  information you  have requested.


Q4: Most of the information you have requested is available on the Scottish Government website. You may wish to note the Scottish Government publishes all overseas travel costs incurred by Scottish Government Ministers.  From July 2018, domestic accommodation is also published. You can find these costs in tab two and/or four of each monthly spreadsheet:

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating , retrieving and providing the information requested from 2014 to July 2018 would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.


Q5: The First Minister will undertake a range of international visits in 2019 in 2010, details of which will be published online when available at:

A breakdown of costs incurred on international visits are routinely published online and will be available 3 months after the visit has taken place at:

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at
foi-18-03733 Breakdown of reception costs


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 

The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

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