Public Petitions Newsletter March 2016

In the final public petitions newsletter before this Session of the Parliament ends, we wanted to take this opportunity to look back at the last 5 years and to look forward to the next Session.

The Committee's work in Session 4

The work of the Public Petitions Committee in numbers

The Committee has considered an wide range of petitions this Session and a number of petitions could be used to highlight the importance of petitions. The Two petitions below show the impact of the Committee's work and the value of the petitions system.

PE1393: Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation in Scotland

This petition was lodged by Barnardo's Scotland who wanted to raise awareness of the problem of child sexual exploitation and wanted to see more resources and commitment to tackle the issue. Consideration of every petition is often in the form of a mini-inquiry, but the Committee took the unusual step of instigating a full Committee inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in 2013. The Committee published a report in January 2014; one of the main recommendations of the report was that the Scottish Government should develop a national strategy for tackling child sexual exploitation. This led to the Scottish Government publishing Scotland’s National Action Plan to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation.

PE01517: Polypropylene Mesh Medical Devices

The petitioners attending a Committee meeting.

During its consideration of PE1517 the Committee heard personal accounts from women who had suffered after having mesh implants. The petitioners felt that they were not being listened to when they were raising concerns about the use of mesh devices. The Committee was successful in obtaining a moratorium on procedures involving mesh devices and the Scottish Government established an independent review on the use of these devices. The independent review published an interim report in October 2015. This petition remains open and will be considered by the new Public Petitions Committee after the election.

Review of the petitions process

The Public Petitions Committee maintains a ‘watching brief’ on the operation of the petitions process. The Committee commissioned research on the process in May 2015 which was published in December 2015. The research indicated that the majority of petitioners are positive about the petitions process but that more could be done to improve transparency and engagement.

To respond to the findings of the review, the Committee decided to hold a workshop in Dundee to explore why people from some groups are less likely to petition the Scottish Parliament than others. The things the Committee was told at the workshop have been used in the recommendations that the Committee has made in its Legacy Paper.

Public Petitions Committee workshop. Dundee, February 2016

The Session 5 Public Petitions Committee will have more opportunities to widen access and participation during its time as custodians of the petitions process and the current Committee has suggested a number of ways in which it might wish to approach this.

Current petitions

Petitions do not fall at the dissolution of Parliament. 33 petitions, including 9 new petitions, will be carried over to the Session 5 Public Petitions Committee. The 9 new petitions cover topics as diverse as beavers, speed awareness courses and the role of the armed forces in schools; in other words, a normal agenda for the Public Petitions Committee!

Snapshot of recently published petitions

Petitioning over dissolution

Petitions cannot be lodged in the period between this Session of the Parliament ending and the new one beginning. However, people can still submit their proposed petitions and the staff can provide advice on the petitions process. With 9 new petitions already waiting for consideration, the new Public Petitions Committee will certainly have a busy start...

And finally...a big thank you!

Jess Smith (PE1523) with the Committee at the Tinkers' Heart of Argyll

Finally, this has been a long and successful session for the Public Petitions Committee. The success of the Committee’s work is dependent on ordinary people bringing forward their ideas and telling their stories. The Committee offers a big thank you to all of our petitioners; everyone who has written in to share their views or provide the Committee with information and anyone who just has an interest in the Committee's work.

Thank you.

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Public Petitions Committee

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