Travelling across the country we heard that the Parliament is well regarded. Since 1999, it has made good progress in delivering the vision of an open, participative, power sharing, accountable Parliament with equal access for all. More could be done, however, to realise that vision.
In our report, we make a substantial number of detailed recommendations that, taken together, would deliver significant improvements in the effectiveness of Parliament. Crucially, these changes can be delivered this session when, arguably, the Parliament could face its greatest scrutiny challenge.
A STRONGER PARLIAMENT ENGAGING WITH THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND
From left to right: Commission members John Edward, Katie Burke MSYP, Pam Duncan-Glancy, Fiona McLeod, Geoff Mawdsley and The Very Rev. Dr. Lorna Hood.
Our recommendations would deliver:
• More flexibility and spontaneity in the business of the chamber, improving opportunities for participation in debates and increasing ministerial accountability.
• An enhanced legislative scrutiny process with mandatory pre- and post- legislative scrutiny and the creation of a Legislative Standards Body.
• Smaller and stronger committees, led by conveners elected by the Parliament to underline their independence and authority, more able to set the political agenda rather than simply respond to the Government.
• A more efficient Parliament, allowing committees and chamber to meet at the same time and making better use of the rhythm of the parliamentary year.
• An enhanced role for individual MSPs to influence, and contribute to, parliamentary business and encouraged to be parliamentarians first.
From left to right: John McCormick and Fiona McLeod meeting with The Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives The Right Honourable David Carter, Commission event with former MSP's, and John McCormick and Johann Lamont MSP meeting with participants on the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) political shadowing scheme.
• A stronger role for the Presiding Officer to direct parliamentary business and ensure more effective scrutiny, accountability and debate.
• A renewed vision for an equal and diverse Parliament, with benchmarks for MSP recruitment from under-represented groups, while ensuring diversity issues become a more systematic part of scrutiny.
• Becoming a leader in public engagement, experimenting with new ways to gather views and evidence and opening up more opportunities for people to become involved, where they want and how they want.
From left to right: Jackson Carlaw MSP speaking at a Commission event in Inverness, Commission Member Professor Boyd Robertson hearing from people at an event in Sleat, and Katie Burke MSYP hearing from Galashiels Academy pupils.
• Providing enhanced support to committees, including the creation of a Committee Engagement Unit.
• Working with young people to encourage greater knowledge of the Parliament, removing barriers to people’s understanding of what the Parliament does and exploiting digital technologies to improve communication with people across the country.
• More effective monitoring and evaluation of the work of the Parliament, with better feedback to those who get involved, to provide self-sustaining improvement and engagement.