Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) role and pay grades: FOI release

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

Information requested

I request information held which discloses:

  1. How much members of the Scottish parliamentary counsel office are paid and why. In particular I request:
  2. Job descriptions or statements of responsibility for each grade in Scottish parliamentary counsel office (that is, why is each role in the office considered to be properly allocated to that grade, given wider civil service policies about the balance of responsibility appropriate to each grade).
  3. Whether any additional pay supplements (of whatever kind or description) are paid to people in Scottish parliamentary counsel office and, if so, how much.
  4. Any correspondence or discussion (within, or outside, Scottish Government, between Scottish Parliamentary counsel and Human Resources, or elsewhere) about whether members of Scottish parliamentary counsel are appointed to the correct grade, whether the duties of parliamentary counsel are equivalent to the responsibilities expected of their grade(s).


I have answered each of your questions below:

Response to Question 1:

We do not have a specialist salary scale for members of the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO). All roles within PCO are at Band C and Senior Civil Servant (SCS) level. The salary information for Band C is available on the Work for Scotland website.

Terms and conditions of employment, including pay, for SCS is reserved to the UK Government and managed by Cabinet Office. All SCS salaries within PCO fall within the pay ranges set by the UK Government and are available on the UK Government website, as illustrated in the table below:






Grade Minimum





Grade Maximum





Salary information of Directors (SCS2) within PCO can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

An exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA applies to information in relation to Deputy Directors’ (SCS1) salaries within PCO. This exemption applies because we intend to publish that information within 12 weeks of the date of your request on the Scottish Government website. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release this routinely published information before the planned publication date.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release and this will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned. Also, we see no public interest in disrupting our programme of work to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.

Response to Question 2:

All roles in the Scottish Government are allocated to grades through established job evaluation processes that correctly determine the relative weight and quality of jobs within an organisation and provides a rational basis for the design and maintenance of an equitable grading structure to which appropriate pay ranges are then applied. Appointment to a salary within an individual pay range may take account of a range of factors including knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience as well as any relevant labour market considerations. The job evaluation systems used in the Civil Service are the ‘Job Evaluation and Grading Support’ (JEGS) for Band A to C staff and the ‘Job Evaluation for Senior Posts’ (JESP) for SCS roles.

The “PCO career framework” document, which I have attached to this response, includes job descriptions for each grade within PCO.

Response to Question 3:

The Scottish Government has a Pay Supplement policy, which allows certain roles within the Scottish Government Main bargaining unit (SGM) to be awarded a supplement paid in addition to, and separate from, base salary in response to recruitment and retention challenges within the relevant market. The full Pay Supplement policy is available on the Scottish Government website.

I can confirm that no role within PCO attracts a pay supplement under the Scottish Government Pay Supplement policy.

Response to Question 4:

As explained in our response to your second question, consideration and decisions “about whether members of Scottish parliamentary counsel are appointed to the correct grade, and whether the duties of parliamentary counsel are equivalent to the responsibilities expected of their grade(s)” are made through the established job evaluation processes that we have included links to. These arrangements have been in place for many years where from time to time new roles may have been created and evaluated or where an established role may have been re-evaluated to ensure it remains graded correctly or not. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. The reason for this is that to locate and retrieve any relevant information we would need to conduct a search of all of the job evaluation records of the Scottish Government going back over a number of years in order to identify any relevant instances of roles within the Parliamentary Counsel Office. 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.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. For example, you could specify a time period of the correspondence you are interested in, as this would allow us to limit the searches that would require to be conducted. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s Step by Step Guidance on this website at: Your Rights | Scottish Information Commissioner (

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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