Presiding Officer announces Independent Commission on Parliamentary Reform


The Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP announced today that he has established an independent Commission on Parliamentary Reform.

Chaired by John McCormick, who stands down as Electoral Commissioner for Scotland at the end of this year, the Commission’s remit is to consider ways in which the Parliament can:

  • be assured it has the right checks and balances in place for the effective conduct of parliamentary business; 
  • increase its engagement with wider society and the public; and 
  • clarify its identity as distinct from the Scottish Government.

The move, which has the support of all Party Leaders at Holyrood, is likely to see the Commission consider fundamental issues such as the role of Parliament in scrutinising legislation, the conduct of committees and Chamber business and how public engagement in the legislative process can be improved.  

Speaking about the Commission, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP said:

“During this session the Scottish Parliament will turn 21, and in its lifetime we will have seen coalition, majority and minority government, further devolution of powers and a digital revolution.  The time is therefore right for us to reflect on our experience and take a serious look at how the Parliament should evolve to ensure it best meets the needs of the Scottish people.  I believe an independent, external Commission is the best vehicle for achieving that.

“The Parliament’s systems are not broken but they are in need of an MOT.  This is not about revisiting the work of the Consultative Steering Group, our founding principles are as relevant today as they were in 1999.  Instead I am asking the Commission to take a fresh look at how we conduct our business and to deliver practical recommendations for change.

“In 1999 the Scottish Parliament was hailed as ground breaking, bringing a new, inclusive style of politics to Scotland.  However, over the last decade or more, we have seen Scottish politics become increasingly tribal and divisive.  This has, among other things, made it challenging for MSPs to find the space to develop in their distinct role as parliamentarians.

“I want the Commission’s work, therefore, to help bring the Parliament back to its roots, ensuring Holyrood is open, transparent, truly participative and fit for the significant challenges which lie ahead.”

Commission Chair John McCormick said:

“The Commission has a wide and substantial remit so we’ll be getting down to business as soon as possible.  Hearing the views of the public will be key to informing our work and we will be announcing shortly how people can get in touch with us and make their voice heard.

“Holyrood was designed as a Parliament for all of Scotland so the Commission will want to hear from people right across the country and from all walks of life about how they think their Parliament could work better for them.”


Full details of the Commission’s membership will be announced shortly and will include individuals from the voluntary and private sectors as well as from the political parties.  

The Commission will submit its report to the Presiding Officer in June 2017.  

Further information on the Commission can be found on its website at:

Contact information

Media information

Public information

  • Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
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