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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 17 March 2021

Agenda: Human Right to a Healthy Environment, Portfolio Question Time, Scotland’s Railway, Testing Strategy, Business Motion, Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill, Scottish Land Commissioners (Reappointment), Standing Order Rule Changes (Urgent Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Questions), Standing Order Rule Changes (Public Petitions System), Standing Order Rule Changes (Equalities and Human Rights Committee Remit), Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Clydebank Blitz (80th Anniversary)


Standing Order Rule Changes (Public Petitions System)

The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-24365, also in the name of Bill Kidd, on public petitions system changes.


The second Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee report that I am speaking to today recommends changes to the rules in standing orders on the public petitions system. The Public Petitions Committee sought the changes to assist it in responding to increasing demand for petitioning the Scottish Parliament, and the proposed changes result from a review of the public petitions system that was conducted by that committee.

Three changes are proposed. The first is to make inadmissible a petition that is substantially the same as a petition that is already under consideration by the Parliament. The second is to allow a petitioner to have a maximum of two current petitions under consideration by the Parliament at any one time. The third is to make a petition inadmissible if it relates to a bill that is currently under consideration by the Parliament or to primary legislation that has been passed by the Parliament within a period of 12 months preceding the lodging of the petition.

The SPPA Committee consulted all MSPs on the changes, and adjusted the rule changes that are proposed to take account of concerns that were expressed.

I move,

That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 7th Report 2021 (Session 5), Standing Order Rule Changes — Public Petitions System (SP Paper 974), and agrees that the changes to Standing Orders set out in Annexe A of the report be made with effect from 12 May 2021.


On behalf of the Public Petitions Committee, I welcome the proposed standing orders rule changes. As we know, demand for petitioning the Scottish Parliament continues to grow each year, and that is to be celebrated. The committee has been greatly encouraged by that public engagement and participation in the work of the Parliament. However, it undoubtedly places a significant strain on the committee’s work programme.

My committee colleagues and I firmly believe that the changes will help to respond to that increasing demand by making the public petitions system more efficient and sustainable, while ensuring that everyone who wants to have their voice heard through the public petitions process can continue to do so.

The question on the motion will be put at decision time.