March 31, 2012

Motions to drop conflict declarations, pipes up/down at starting line on the table at RSPBA AGM

The 2012 annual general meeting of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association could prove to be a somewhat more lively affair than usual on March 10th when the organizations convenes at the Trades Hall in Glasgow.

pipes|drums has received a copy of the order papers for the meeting, the document that includes motions from branches to be voted upon by attending members. Two of the more contentious matters are proposals put forward by the association’s Board of Directors to delete outright the requirement of members of the RSPBA’s adjudicators panel and Music Board to declare in writing any interests in organizations that “may conflict or possibly conflict” with the interests of the RSPBA.

The current rule for adjudicators that potentially will be deleted reads:

2.30. Each member of the Adjudicators Panel shall, on appointment and annually thereafter, intimate in writing to the Board of Directors (in such form as the Board of Directors shall determine from time to time) the nature and extent of his or her interests in any matter which conflicts, or possibly may conflict, with the interests of the Company including, without limitation, any employment, appointments or offices held by that Adjudicator, or any interest in any supplier of the Company, Member or Associated Members of the Company or Affiliated Association.


For the purposes of this Rule 2.30 an Adjudicator shall be deemed to have a personal interest in an arrangement or matter if any partner or other close relative of his/hers or any firm of which he/she is a partner or any limited company of which he/she is a substantial shareholder or director has a personal interest in that arrangement or matter.

Perceived conflict of interest has been a topic of concern with pipe band judging since the beginning of the tradition, with professional full-time reed and bagpipe makers frequently adjudicating their customers and potential customers. No pipe band association, including the RSPBA, has formal rules prohibiting the practice.

Also on the table at the AGM will be a proposal to drop the traditional pipes down, stand easy, pipes up, ready, get ready command at the starting line, whereby bands risk disqualification if they don’t follow through with the practice, adopted from the military. The RSPBA is one of few associations in the world that maintains the requirement. The drill concerns many bands that worry that finely-tuned instruments may be altered in the process, while others appreciate the tradition.

Sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that a proposal allegedly will be made to make current RSPBA Chairman Gordon Hamill an honourary life member of the association. Hamill is also currently the Chairman of the RSPBA’s Glasgow & West of Scotland Branch. The life membership proposal reportedly will come from the Glasgow & West of Scotland Branch itself. There are currently 16 honourary life members of the RSPBA.

The RSPBA order papers are provided in advance only to member band secretaries and RSPBA Branch  secretaries. When the RSPBA became a company limited by guarantee, only band secretaries counted as “members” of the “company,” and not the bands themselves. Although the RSPBA keeps a “role” of membership, these individuals are not counted as members of the company.




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