Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Sun Aint Gonna...

... Shine Anymore as the Walker Brothers sang. Jings, this weather. Even the ducks are wearing oilskins!
You will have picked up that Parliament in recess this week and next. However, as we always point out, work goes on. We are pulling all the written submissions together for the petitions to go before the committee at its next meeting on 20 April. Probably around 7 new and 15 or so current petition. Agenda and papers will be published on Wednesday 14 April on committee's webpage.
I reckon around 150 petitions will be considered by the committee between 20 April and last meeting before summer recess on 29 June. Summer, now there's a word people don't use much in Scotland.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Petitions in Australia

For those who follow all things petitions (now there's an exclusive club) you may want to read the report by the Petitions Committee of the Australian House of Representatives about the introduction of e-petitioning. The government there has still to respond to this report so not sure what will happen next and when but I'll keep an eye out. I know the three of us will want to know!
Certainly the PPC has been very interested in developments in Australia over recent years with the federal parliament and at state level for example in Queensland (which of course has had e-petitioning for quite a while now) and Western Australia. Always good to learn from others so I will be interested in how this goes forward.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

What we do

The next meeting of the committee is on Tuesday 20 April here at Holyrood (2.00 pm start). Now we aint gonna be sitting about doing nothing. There are around 110 current petitions before the committee at present so we will be looking to move these along through the gathering of written evidence as requested by the committee. In between meetings most (all) of our time is spent working with people who want to lodge a petition (giving advice on the wording, seeking more information etc) and looking at the written material that comes in on those petitions in the system.
The papers for the 20 April meeting will go out on the 13th. Probably about 7 new petitions and around 18 current for consideration that day. I reckon most of the meetings between now and summer recess will be the same volume. Jings!
There are other issues we are looking at. The committee will be hosting a couple of delegations in the next couple of months (details to follow), work on the redevelopment of the e-petition site, further external meetings of the committee to arrange, the young petitioners meeting later this year. I don't have a T-bird but its still fun, fun, fun!
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Friday, 19 March 2010

Anstruther meeting update

As promised, here is the video (click on link below) made last Monday at the committee's external meeting at Waid Academy in Anstruther. Happy viewing!

Anstruther Film

PS: Remember to visit our Picasa page to see photos from Monday
PPS: The Official Report for Monday (the oral transcript of what was said) is now available on the committee's webpage

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Well done Waid Academy!

Well done to all at Waid Academy for a cracking meeting yesterday. There's a lot of work to put together an external meeting with laying out the hall, catering, putting up with us during a school day but you did a great job. A fantastic musical welcome with pipers and all set up the committee members nicely.

The Question Time session just after lunch was, shall we say, lively! I hope the pupils and the teachers found this direct questioning of MSPs useful. Don't think you were left in any doubt of the views of the MSPs to the questions asked.
Lots of photos taken yesterday which I will post up on to our Picasa page - should have these later this morning. I'll paste some of them on to this post.

Well done also the 5 petitioners who spoke to the committee about their petitions. We'll start working on taking these petitions forward - details via each petition page on the committee's website


You can see lots more photos from yesterday's meeting via our Picasa page
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Monday, 15 March 2010

Gone fishin'!

Well, not quite but committee off to Anstruther in Fife for meeting today. Meeting starts at 10.30 am and will likely run for couple of hours anyway. Venue is Waid Academy (meeting will be in main hall in the school).
These external meetings are always really good occasions with good feedback from the audience. Tends to be a different atmosphere than meetings here at Holyrood (more relaxed perhaps).
The pupils at Waid have submitted their own petitions which the committee will consider and will hear from the pupils-
PE1317 Protecting the rights of school age workers by Paul Dryburgh and Ellen Cummings and
PE1318 Free access to public leisure facilities for all children by Ronan Buist, Megan Lumsden and Daniel Swaddle
The agenda for the meeting is on the webpage.
Alas no live picture feed with external meeting but check out Holyrood TV in case there is a live sound feed.

We are leaving shortly for bus journey over. "Bags a seat at the back". Suddenly I'm back at school going on a day trip!
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Meeting next Monday in Anstruther

We are all looking forward to the committee's next meeting (Monday 15th) at Waid Academy in Anstruther. I know the school has been putting a lot of work into the arrangements for this which we of course really appreciate.
The agenda for the meeting was published yesterday - see webpage. You'll notice couple of oral presentations on new petitions from the Waid pupils-
PE1317 Protecting the rights of school age workers by Paul Dryburgh and Ellen Cummings and
PE1318 Free access to public leisure facilities for all children by Ronan Buist, Megan Lumsden and Daniel Swaddle
Well done on submitting these petitions.
The meeting on Monday starts at 10.30 am and is in public. The meeting will probably finish around 12.30/45 pm. There will then be a 'Question Time' session which will be an opportunity for folk in the public gallery to ask the committee members questions e.g. about life as a MSP, what's the role of the Committee, general engagement and participation work etc).
The success of the meeting does, to an extent, depend on getting people to come along and participate. That is why the Committee hopes you will be able to attend. The meeting will take place in the school hall and it can accommodate around 150. If you wish to attend, you can book a ticket through this office (these are free). Please contact my colleague Eileen Martin (eileen.martin@scottish.parliament.uk). Tickets will also be available on the day.
We hope to see you at Waid on Monday.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Scottish Youth Parliament March conference

I've just come back from chairing a session at the Scottish Youth Parliament's March conference in Coatbridge. First up, thanks to the SYP for inviting me along to chair your motions session today - hope I did OK!!
Four motions had been proposed by MSYPs which were debated and voted on. Three of the motions were suuccessful so well done to the three MSYPs who presented their cases extremely well and responded to some very well thought out and relevant questions. It was evident from the debates that took place on each motion that the MSYPs were well grounded in the issues and it was a pity that we didnt have more time to spend discussing them.
Anyway, it was a honour for me to take part and I look forward to the partnership betweeen the SYP and work which the PPC is doing in the months ahead.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tina McGeever petition

Another useful discussion today about Tina McGeever's access to cancer drugs petition. This was the first time we had discussed the petition since the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing gave evidence to us on 17 November 2009. At that meeting she agreed to send us a copy of the Scottish Government’s draft guidance to NHS boards on the introduction and availability of new medicines. This is intended to provide a framework to which boards must align local policies on access to new medicines. It also contains specific advice on what is now called individual patient treatment requests (previously exceptional prescribing requests). The Cab Sec was keen to hear the views of the Committee and Tina McGeever on this guidance before it was issued given the impetus for all of this has been the petition and our inquiry report.

Today we agreed our response back to the Cab Sec. While we had a some questions and made a number of points which the Scottish Government may wish to reflect on before it issues the new guidance, overall we think this will be another step in the right direction and demonstrates further action being taken to address the key issues which Tina raised in her petition. It has been really useful working with the government on this issue and for the important points which Tina raised to be taken seriously and for positive action to be taken as a result.
Frank McAveety MSP, Convener