Inquiry into the Scottish Parliament’s practices and procedures during Covid 19 announced by Holyrood Committee

19.10.2020

An inquiry into the resilience of the Scottish Parliament’s practices and procedures following the Covid 19 outbreak has been announced.

Holyrood’s Standards, Procedures & Public Appointments Committee is to examine working practices over the past seven months and is calling for views

Since April 2020, the Chamber and Committees of the Parliament have met in a mix of virtual, hybrid and socially-distanced formats to ensure that parliamentary business continues.

The new inquiry will seek to evaluate these recent changes with a view to recommending permanent changes to Standing Orders so that the Parliament can continue to function as effectively as possible in a challenging situation in the future.

The inquiry will also consider wider changes to the Parliament’s practices and procedures to promote the resilience of parliamentary business in the future.

SPPA Committee convener Bill Kidd MSP said:

“The past seven months have seen extraordinary changes to the working practices of the Scottish Parliament - changes that had to be made urgently through absolute necessity.

“This inquiry will seek to evaluate the effectiveness of Holyrood’s recent working practices and review our capacity to scrutinise the government and to hold it to account during this time of crisis.

“Our intention will be to make procedural recommendations that promote the future resilience of the Parliament.”

SPPA Deputy Convener Patrick Harvie said:

“Having the opportunity to scrutinise the government of the day and hold it to account is vital. It’s important, therefore, we look back on the last seven months and learn from that experience what worked well, what should be replicated, and what can be improved upon as a parliament.”

Remit of the Inquiry

The Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments
Committee (SPPA Committee) is responsible for considering and reporting on the practices and procedures of the Parliament in relation to its business.

In addition to any general comments on the way in which the Parliament has
adapted and could further adapt its practices and procedures to make them more resilient, the Committee would welcome views on the following issues:

• The variations and suspensions that have been made to some of the Rules in Standing Orders and whether permanent effect should be given to any of these changes.

• What can be learned from the capacity of the Parliament to scrutinise the Scottish Government and hold it to account in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• How the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to the practices and procedures of the Parliament in relation to its business have impacted on the accessibility of the Parliament and the potential for the people of Scotland to engage with parliamentarians and the parliamentary decision-making process.

• The new practices that the Parliament has adopted in relation to its business through the establishment of virtual and hybrid meetings of the Chamber and Committees and whether consideration should be given to continuing any of these practices.

• The flexibility of the Parliament to adapt its procedures, particularly whether there should be a provision to allow for wider temporary changes to Standing Orders.

• Any equalities issues relating to the changes to the practices and procedures of the Parliament in relation to its business.

Find more on the Inquiry and call for views here.

Media contact

Eric MacLeod



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