Parliament must adapt to face future challenges, says Committee

23.02.2021

An inquiry into the resilience of the Scottish Parliament’s practices and procedures has today recommended a number of changes to ensure the Scottish Parliament can face future challenges.

The Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee looked at the procedures introduced in response to the Covid pandemic. These included the ability for the Parliament to meet virtually or in hybrid format, as well as remote voting.

Now the Committee has agreed that a number of the Parliament’s procedures should be changed permanently so the Parliament is able to adapt to any future situation which may impact on its ability to meet. 

Committee Convener, Bill Kidd MSP said:  

“The pandemic had an immediate impact on the work of the Scottish Parliament, with huge changes to how we operate and conduct our business being made quickly,

“We should rightly reflect on the success of these in allowing all MSPs to not only contribute to debates, but to scrutinise and vote on legislation. Something that has not happened in all legislatures. 

“What has been clear to us during this inquiry, is that many of these changes need to become permanent to help ensure that Parliament is as resilient as possible for all future challenges.”

The Committee is recommending a series of changes to the Parliament’s Standing Orders, which set out its procedures, to make some of the temporary changes permanent. These include

* Creating a new rule to make it easier to make temporary changes to the Standing Orders

* Making permanent changes to allow the Scottish Parliament to meet virtually or hybrid format if needed;

* Introducing a permanent change to allow for remote voting if needed.

Deputy Convener, Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“There is little doubt that the world has changed dramatically in the course of less than a year. The changes that were introduced in the Parliament were done initially out of necessity, but they have taught us that the Parliament must be ready to face future challenges and carry out its vital function of holding the Government to account. Something that is even more crucial in times of crisis.

“Our report today makes it clear that, not only do we think that some of these innovations should stay, but that in the next session of Parliament work should be done to ensure that these procedures are as robust as possible as we move out of the pandemic, and beyond.”

Full information about the Committee’s work can be found on the Committee’s webpage:

https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/116274.aspx

The Committee’s report can be found here: 

https://sp-bpr-en-prod-cdnep.azureedge.net/published/SPPA/2021/2/23/67bb1cc0-ce9d-49be-8e2d-7f9af86b75d5/SPPAS052021R02.pdf

Background

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee considers the practices and procedures of the Parliament in relation to its business.

The Committee’s resilience inquiry was established to explore  how greater resilience could be ensured in the future through changes to the Parliament’s practices and procedures. 

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