Almost a decade and over 1,100 petitions since the inception of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, an inquiry into the public petitions process has been launched.
The committee aims to improve awareness, access and participation and examine how an increasing volume of petitions can be processed and scrutinised as effectively as possible.
Committee Convener Frank McAveety MSP said:
“The committee works in an open and accessible way by creating an arena for the public to shape and influence public policy. Our aim is to ensure that the Scottish Parliament has a petitions system fit for the future. It is important that we continue to meet the demand of the Scottish public in creating a reliable, effective and relevant petitions process. Today we have written to around 600 individuals and organisations locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. We want to hear from citizens, community groups, equalities bodies and many others on how well the process works and what we can do to improve it.”
Since 1999, the Public Petitions Committee has considered petitions on subjects as diverse as the availability of cheap alcohol, the mandatory fitting of seatbelts on school buses and most recently one that sparked the Committee’s inquiry into the availability of cancer treatment drugs on the NHS. The Scottish Parliament was the world’s first to receive petitions electronically and has proven incredibly popular with the public now recording over 1,000,000 hits per month.
The inquiry follows the Committee’s consideration of petition PE1065 on behalf of Young Scot. Among its demands, this petition called on the Scottish Parliament to promote the use of new and emerging technologies to enhance the engagement of young people in the democratic process. The committee’s previous consideration of this petition took place on 23 October 2007 and 19 February 2008. It also follows on from a report by the previous Committee, The Assessment of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions System 1999-2006. This reached a number of conclusions on the public petitions process. The committee has written directly to over 500 individuals in Scotland and abroad seeking their views