Parliamentary relevance at the heart of the debate


An international conference debating how to make Parliaments more relevant will take place at the Scottish Parliament on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 June. The theme will be explored by more than fifty international Parliamentarians attending the 42nd Conference of the British Islands and Mediterranean Region (BIMR) of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), and organised by the CPA Scotland Branch.

On Monday, sessions will explore the benefits of preventative spending, delivering services in the context of cost cutting, and speakers include:

  • Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth at the Scottish Government, John Swinney MSP.
  • Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan QPM, FFPH.
  • Professor of Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University, Alice McKay.
  • Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, Dr Philip Wilson.
  • Secretary to the Constitutional Convention (the Republic of Ireland), Art O’Leary.

On Tuesday, Sir William Patey KCMG, former UK Ambassador to Afghanistan will outline his views on political change in the 21st Century. In the afternoon, a panel session will debate whether the media is taking democracy to new audiences. The panel members are former MSP John McAllion, Executive Editor of the Scotsman newspaper group Bill Jamieson and freelance consultant and author Carol Madison Graham.  A presentation from Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of the West of England, Dr Dimitri Christopoulos on social media and political communication closes the day.

Speaking ahead of the event, the Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP said:

“The Scottish Parliament has now firmly established itself as an effective platform for debate both domestically and internationally.  The CPA Scotland Branch has worked hard to devise a programme that offers challenging and informative sessions on how Parliaments can demonstrate their relevance to their electorate. I look forward to welcoming our guests to Holyrood and chairing some lively and thought-provoking debates.”


  1. The Conference is usually held annually.  Each Branch takes it in turn to host.  No Conference took place in 2011 and Isle of Man Branch hosted in 2010.  Scotland Branch also hosted in 2001.
  2. BIMR includes Alderney, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Malta, Northern Ireland, Scotland, St Helena, UK, Wales.
  3. The CPA is an Association of Commonwealth Parliamentarians who, irrespective of gender, race, religion or culture, are united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, and by pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy.
  4. The CPA Scotland Branch Executive Committee is made up of four MSPs: Sandra White, Patricia Ferguson, Margaret Mitchell and Tavish Scott. Each will chair sessions within the conference.
  5. On Wednesday, delegates will visit the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.