Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hold On!

I have been trying to think of an appropriate song to link this post to and the only one I have in my head right now is 'Hold On' by Deep Purple (from their best ever album in my view, 1974's Stormbringer - sorry, cannot find You Tube link). Tenuous I know but 'Hold On' we have another bumper petitions committee meeting coming up (groan, that was terrible!).
With the October recess now a distant memory its back to normal parliamentary business and the resumption of committee meetings. The agenda and papers for next Tuesday's meeting were published yesterday and are available via the committee's webpage.
On the new petitions, the committee will hear from ProjectScotland about a national youth volunteering policy and from Multi Ethnic Aberdeen Ltd about NHS interpretation and translation services. MEAL are one of the bodies taking part in the Parliament's community partnership project.
On the current petitions, there are a few returning to the committee including the petitions on school bus safety (PE1098 and PE1223) and PE1169 on the display of sexually graphic magazines and newspapers. You will recall the committee heard from Tam Baillie, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People and Kenny MacAskill MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice at its last meeting. Also coming back is Ryan McLaughlin's petition on vitamin D supplements. Ryan came to the committee in June when he and 500 other bravehearts walked down the Royal Mile to the Parliament. A very colourful day!
Finally, the committee will discuss its work programme for 2010 and agree meeting dates and the locations for its three external meetings. It will also agree the date for the special petitions meeting for young people it has undertaken to hold next year (see para.33 of inquiry report).
As ever, you can watch the entire meeting live via the excellent Holyrood TV from 2.00 pm (committee room 1)
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Monday, 26 October 2009

Hold the front page! New podcast!

The committee launched another podcast today. An introduction to the public petitions system includes an interview with the convener, Frank McAveety MSP. You can access the pod cast here. Why not visit the Scottish Parliament's podcast page where you can download podcasts on other aspects of the Parliament's work.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Knife crime

You will be aware that the committee has been considering the petition (PE1171) from John Muir on knife crime for about 16 months now. The committee has been trying to take forward an open discussion on the issues which arise out of John's petition. Earlier this year it sponsored a unique debate in the Chamber of the Parliament when police, victims, their families, churches, social work, media, charities, legal bodies, children's groups, community groups, academics, politicians and others came together for an open debate on how to tackle this problem. The discussion was facilitated by Brian Taylor, BBC Scotland political editor. There was a lot of focus on this debate and what the committee was trying to do.
You can read the oral transcript of what was said and and read the report of the debate which are both available on the committee's webpage. There are also photographs of the event available on our Picasa page.
The committee has now received the response from the Scottish Government to this report.
So what happens next? Well, the Justice Committee here in the Parliament is currently considering the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland ) Bill which contains provisions relating to custodial sentencing. This was one of the core issues in John's petition, that of mandatory custodial sentencing for carrying a knife. That committee is due to complete Stage 1 of the Bill by the end of November. It is expected that the PPC will then look at the petition again (at one of its December meetings) to reflect of where things are and what it can do next.
We will of course keep you updated with the committee's work on this petition. You can access the petition and all the related material via its own webpage. John Muir was one of the people who took part in the Parliament's 10th anniversary Moving Stories exhibition and you can listen to his moving experience about why he had to bring his petition forward.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Yes, we are still here!

I'm aware that we hadn't posted any new comments on to the blog for a week or so. For the 10s of people who follow this blog, here you are. A wee update on all things petitions.
The Parliament of course in in recess - back to Parliament business next week. However, petitions continue to come in and we have been working with petitioners on some possible new petitions that might be coming forward over the coming days and weeks. Some of the new petitions yet to go to the committee you can access via the e-petition site
We are also busy here pulling papers together for the committee's next meeting on 3 November. These will go out early next week (Tuesday?) so keep an eye on the website for the agenda and papers. One of the issues which the committee will discuss at the meeting is its work programme for 2010. At the meeting, it will consider and agree (I hope!) the dates for all of its meetings in 2010 and also the locations for the external meetings which it will hold. So the committee could be coming to a town near you next year!
There are four meetings between now and Christmas - 3 and 17 November, 1 and 15 December but we reckon the committee will look at around 80 petitions across these meetings. Now that I have typed that, roll on Christmas! So a heavy workload in the weeks ahead.
There are a few other issues floating around the committee just now in terms of delegations to the Parliament, issues arising from its inquiry report so watch this space for breaking news.
Promise to get back to more regular updates next week.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Meeting of 6 October 2009

The Committee yesterday took oral evidence from Julie Love and Dr Kenneth Faulds on petition PE1280 which calls for a Fatal Accident Inquiry to be held when a person from Scotland dies abroad. Julie's own son Colin died while swimming on holiday in Venezuela. The way it is at the moment, if an English civilian has a sudden or unexpected death abroad, this will automatically trigger a coroner's inquiry upon the return of the corpse (this is in addition to any inquiry that may have taken place in the country in which the person died). This is very important to determine the cause of the death, the circumstances and to make recommendations to try to prevent future similar accidents. However, the same does not apply if a person from Scotland dies abroad even if there are suspicious circumstances. Here are some pictures from the petitioners taken during the meeting.
The Committee also heard from Kenny MacAskill (Cabinet Secretary for Justice) and Tam Baillie (new Commissioner for Children and Young People)on petition PE1169 on the display of magazines with sexual content. Again, here are a few pics.
Remember,this blog is primarily for you so do let us know what you think about any of the posts.

PPC clerks


Well, lengthy and detailed meeting yesterday afternoon (apologies for not posting earlier). First up was the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill MSP, and Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie, answering questions about PE1169 on the display of sexually graphic magazines and newspapers. At the end of this, the Committee agreed to look at the scope for research into this issue eg non-compliance with the voluntary code which exists. We are now taking this forward for this committee and a paper will go back to it at its next meeting on 3 November to consider how to move forward.

Next up were two further discussions this time with the petitioners on PE1276 (age of retirement for judicial office holders) and PE1280 (requirement for fatal accident inquiry). Check out the Official Report when published next Tuesday for a record of the discussion.
There was also a batch of current petitions to get through and with 10 MSPs (not members of the committee) there to speak to various petitions, it was a lengthy one, finishing at 5.27 pm.
Anyway, the committee doesnt have another meeting until 3 November but there is a lot to get through between now and Christmas with around 70 petitions down for discussion (and this number will go up!). One petition back before the committee is PE1108 on access to cancer treatment drugs (as a wee aside, well done to Tina McGeever who won the Scottish Woman of the Year award the other night for her campaign). The committee agreed to invite the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, back to discuss progress being made in taking forward the conclusions of its inquiry report published last year.
As ever, we'll keep you posted as things pan out with arrangements for these meetings and other work of the committee including its work programme for 2010 - dates of meetings and locations for external meetings!
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC