Customer story: Scottish Parliament

Call For Evidence Process
'screenshot of 'Scottish Parliament
'screenshot of 'Scottish Parliament

Democracy in action

The Scottish Parliament was established in 1999 and has 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). MSPs consider and vote on legislation, debate matters of importance to the people of Scotland, and hold the Scottish Government to account. While the UK Parliament in Westminster retains ultimate power, the Scottish Parliament can introduce legislation on many issues of national importance, including housing, health, agriculture, transport, the environment, and law and order.

The Scottish Parliament has a committee-based legislature. These committees take evidence from witnesses, scrutinise legislation and conduct inquiries, then make recommendations to Parliament. As part of this work committees run calls for evidence, known as Calls for Views. These help ensure the committees have evidence from the people who wish to have input. It’s a system that aims to encourage power-sharing, be closer to the Scottish people, and be in tune with Scottish needs.

Seeking innovative solutions

The Scottish Parliament has a particular approach to policy-making, putting people and organisations at its heart and engaging those who live there in decision-making.

The Scottish Parliament adopted Citizen Space in October 2019, since which time it has published 34 Calls for Views using the technology; on average that’s one every two weeks. Its first outing was a Call for Views on an update to the 2006 Animals and Wildlife Act. Just under 50 responders allowed their views to be published, and the updated law has toughened penalties for animal welfare and wildlife crimes.

Almost half of the Scottish Parliament’s Calls for Views have been to address various impacts of COVID-19. In September 2020 the Social Security Committee launched an inquiry to find out how social security can help aid the social and economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and included discussion on the introduction of a universal basic income.

Another hot topic for Scotland is how to fulfil the obligations of its 2019 Climate Change Act, which commits the country to net-zero emissions by 2045. In December 2020 each of four parliamentary committees published its own Call for Views asking for input on the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan update. These formed part of the Big Climate Conversation, a six-month public engagement programme launched in June 2019. The four committees are continuing to hear evidence and scrutinise the plan.

Listening to everyone

Undertaking Calls for Views and other public engagement exercises in a clear and transparent way is part of the DNA of the Scottish Parliament and its committees. Citizen Space is key to this engagement and the subsequent collecting, analysing and reporting on submitted views. Submissions to Citizen Space can be in any language, enabling the Scottish Parliament to welcome written views in Gaelic and Scots in addition to other UK languages.

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