Monday, 13 December 2010

Meeting with Japanese House of Councillors

Have a meetying today with officials from the Japanese House of Councillors. Looking forward to this. Received a list of topics to discuss should should be an interesting exchange of ideas between respective petitioning procedures in Scotland and Japan.

Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Update re PPC mtg 7 Dec

PPC meeting expected to ahead this afternoon as the committee is quorate (need three members for the committee to undertake its business). However, the discussion on the time for all to be heard forum petition (PE1351) is expected to be deferred due to problems with members and Ministers availability.
Fergus, Clerk to PPC

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Jings, crivvens, help ma boab!

Not sure I ever thought I would get the chance to use these words in a 'clerky' work context. I guess blogs allow this!
You may have seen the muckle agenda which was published today for next Tuesday's truly bumper PPC meeting. 62 petitions on the agenda which must be some sort of record. I don't know why but that number has triggered the 'famous' chant circa 1974 World Cup-
"6 foot 2, eyes of blue, big Jim Holton's after you!"
Anyway, I will be overloading on finest Arabica before the 2.00 pm start to keep me going.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Well done Ryan (again)!

Well done Ryan from all at the Public Petitions Committee. Ryan won at the Pride of Britain awards last night in London. Looked a bit lost for words at one point! Here's a photo of Ryan and his family with PPC members (John Wilson and Robin Harper (on left) and Bill Butler and Rhona Brankin (on right)) receiving his invitation to the awards ceremony a few weeks ago from some tall bloke (don't know who he is). Fantastic achievement Ryan and well done to you all.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Update on SYP event last week

Photos taken by Andrew, the Parliament photographer are now available via this link. The password you need is petition (how original!). Here's a wee selection below from last Friday

Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Friday, 29 October 2010

Yet more history in the making!

Yet more history in the making by the committee today (the committee of 'firsts'!). The PPC will be the first committee to hold a formal meeting in this Debating Chamber when it holds a meeting as part of the Scottish Youth Parliament conference. This is also the first time it has held a meeting to consider only petitions from a 'dedicated group' as the three petitions on the agenda are from young people. The other first is (I think) this will be the first time the PPC has met on a Friday (OK that one a bit weak!).
You can watch the meeting live via Holyrood TV. Meeting starts at 10.30 am. I think today will form another chapter in my memoirs!
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC
Here is a link to Holyrood TV interview with PPC COnvener and SYP Chair (sorry, not a live hyperlink so you need to paste URL into your browser)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

PPC mtg 26 October

Well I have come to the conclusion that meetings of 3+ hours are the norm for the Committee now, particularly in the run up to Dissolution.
A first yesterday with the Committee hearing oral evidence from a UK government minister for the first time. Members indicating how useful the session with Mike Penning MP (minister at Dept for Transport); Stewart Stevenson MSP (Scottish Govt transport minister) and police representatives from Association of Chief Police Officers and ACPO Scotland was in taking forward the two petitions on school bus safety. Some helpful commitments to come back to the committee with more information.
So another first for this committee is having UK government minister giving evidence. More firsts on Friday when the PPC has its second meeting this week. This time in the Debating Chamber as part of the Scottish Youth Parliament conference. Post to follow on that.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Understanding Parliament conference and social media

One of the workshops at last Saturday's Understanding and Influencing your Parliament conference was on the use of social media. Big thanks to Peter Cruickshank from the International Teledemocracy Centre at Edinburgh Napier Uni (folk behind e-petitioning) and petitioner Bob Thomsom who took part. Sorry I couldn't get to this but I was at the petitions workshop. Anyway, Bob and Lesley Thomsom who also took part have both blogged on this.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

PPC meeting Tuesday 5 October

Phew, phew, phew! PPC meeting yesterday lasted 3 1/2 hours . Jings, crivvens, help ma boab. Some very interesting discussions on the petitions. I've made the point before about the breadth of topics but quite amazing how the discussion jumps from one topic to the next to the next etc.
Lots of follow up points which we will be taking forward today with around 60 letters going out to various organisations. Most of yesterday's petitions probably coming back to PPC at end November which is likely to be a long agenda with around 40+ petitions being considered at 23 November meeting. I feel a sickie coming on!
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Understanding Parliament conference

Well, the second Understanding and Influencing your Parliament conference now underway. Opened by the Presiding Officer with some interactive voting. Interesting results on people's awareness of the Parliament and the methods available to get involved in what goes on here. Of course, that is what today is all about, to explain and clarify.

Colleague David McGill, who heads up the Legislation team here, made a really good contribution particularly on petitions. David used to Clerk the PPC a few years ago - pinnacle of his career!
Going back in for next session when Ron Beaty will be talking about his petition and his school bus safety campaign. Move into workshops this afternoon so will give a wee update before then.

Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Understanding and Influencing your Parliament conference

This Saturday (2 October) sees a big event in the Parliament with the second Understanding and Influencing your Parliament conference. The conference is targeted at local (i.e. community-based) voluntary and charity-sector organisations, civic groups and campaign organisations. Around 150 attendees from across Scotland are expected to attend the event aimed at developing effective skills to allow such groups to have their voice heard at Holyrood.
Petitions will play a central role in the conference. One of the main speakers in the Chamber on Saturday morning is Ron Beaty who has petition on improving school bus safety. Ron will talk about his campaign and how his work so far. He will also take part in the petition workshop in the afternoon along with petitioner/campaigner Douglas McKenzie . The workshop will be chaired by Rhona Brankin MSP, the PPC Convener (and I will be there!).
There will also be a social media workshop where participants can discuss and learn about different forms of social media (eg blogs) and how these can be used as a way of sharing information and promoting an issue. Taking part in that workshop is Bob Thomson who has a petition on availability of Low Dose Naltrexone and Peter Cruickshank from the International Teledemocracy Centre at Edinburgh Napier University. ITC were the folk wot developed the e-petition system (and of course the Scottish Parliament was the first legislature in the world to accept e-petitions back in 2000).
I am going to blog from the conference and get some photos on to the site which I hope you find helpful.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Tuesday's meeting

We return to Holyrood and Tuesday will see another committee meeting. Usual bumper agenda.
First petition up is PE1319 on improving youth football. The committee will take oral evidence from Henry McLeish who chaired the Scottish football review. Then there are six new petitions with oral evidence in respect of the first two. The Committee then moves back to current petitions with 20 current petitions before it.
No more external meetings planned now so remainder of session will be focus on dealing with the volume of petitions. In committee room 1 on Tuesday, usual 2.00 pm start on Holyrood TV

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Time for Reflection Wednesday 22 September

Petitioner Tina McGeever will lead Time for Reflection in the Parliament Chamber on Wednesday 22 September. TfR is the slot each Wednesday before the commencement of business in the Chamber when an invited speaker addresses the meeting of the Parliament for up to 4 minutes. Tina as you know has been campaigning to improve the system for accessing cancer treatment drugs on the NHS and has successfully brought about many important improvements in the systems and procedures use by health boards across Scotland. Her petition goes back before the PPC in November for an update from the Scottish Government on the roll out of guidance to health boards earlier this year.
You can watch TfR live, 2.30 pm, via Holyrood TV.
Well done Tina. Well deserved!
Quick update: Here is Tina at TfR
You can read what was said by clicking here or view the proceedings again via Holyrood TV archive

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Well done Arran High School

Well, Arran may have had horizontal rain yesterday but the High School did the PPC proud with a memorable external meeting. Piped into the school on arrival and then, after a few words of welcome from the head teacher, Douglas Auld, young Struan Robertson recited some Burns. Now it isnt everyday (or in fact ever!) that you have some Burns at a committee meeting. Katy Simmons and Scott Currie presented their petition to the PPC members and then spoke informatively and confidently about the travel costs and problems faced by young people in remote and rural areas. We have some photos of the pupils handing their petition over to the Committee on our Picasa webpage. After the formal meeting, the PPC members held a 'lively' Q&A session with the 5th and 6th year pupils. A quick lunch and then the afternoon ferry back to the mainland. Decided against going on to deck as I may have been blown back to Arran (or beyond). This was the last external PPC meeting but a really good one to end with so thank you to everyone at the school who made it work so well.
You can watch an extract of Katy and Scott's presentation to the Committee below

Friday, 3 September 2010

Arran committee meeting on 13 September.

The PPC will be visiting Arran on 13 September as part of its commitment to meet people throughout Scotland.
The meeting will start at 9.30 am at Arran High School to which you are welcome to participate and attend. Below is a link to a news release about this meeting. As you will see, the MSPs are very much looking forward to this meeting and certainly hope that you are able to come along and watch a meeting of your Parliament at work.
The agenda for the meeting will be published next week but it will largely be split into the consideration of new petition and current (those that are ‘in the system’). Some of these may be of a particular interest to you for example the petition from the RSPB on the illegal killing of birds of prey. Pupils at the High School are also working on a petition which they will present and speak about at the meeting. This will give the meeting a particular local flavor.
We hope you will be able to attend and if you have any questions do get in touch by phoning Fergus (Clerk) on 0131 348 5186.

1st Committee meeting after recess

The summer recess ends today which means that official business in Parliament resumes on Monday. The PPC has had a very busy summer with around 40 new petitions coming. Some of these will be considered at our next meeting on Tuesday 7 September. Here's a link to the agenda . As usual we will start at 2.00pm and the Committee will consider 13 new petitions (8 of them are identical and relate to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman) and 16 current petitions.
We will be hearing evidence on 2 new petitions, PE1336 about saving West Highland wild salmons and trouts and petition PE1340 on giving greater protection to Scotland's trees.
We hope to see you on the day but if you can't you can always follow the proceedings on your computer by logging onto Holyrood TV.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Meeting with Malawi delegation

PPC members Robin Harper MSP and Nigel Don MSP meet with the Hon Jones Chingola MP, First Deputy Speaker of the Malawi National Assembly this morning. The FDS is visiting the Parliament this week for a series of meetings with MSPs and officials. He is also attending the Festival of Politics event at lunchtime on Malawi .
The meeting this morning follows up previous discussions held on the Scottish public petitions system with Malawi MPs and officials. The FDS is interested in learning more about the public petitions process as a positive method of encouraging people to make their voice heard. I had the very real pleasure of going to Malawi two years ago to work at the Assembly so it's good to see some of the issues discussed then moving forward. Since visiting I have become hooked on the lovely Mzuzu coffee. You must try it!
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

What are we doing?

Parliament of course in recess but work goes on. Proposed petitions continue to come in for us to look and and consider. We liaise with the petitioners over the wording and information they have set out in their draft petition to ensure that it is in the best shape possible before it goes before the PPC. Is the purpose of the petition clear enough? is more information needed? Obviously we want to ensure a full and informed consideration of the petition so it is important that all the information is there.
Of course with no committee meetings it means that we can get a wee bit of a backlog of new petitions but we forward plan to ensure that we then get these before the committee ASAP after the recess ends. First meeting is 7 September and the agenda for that is agreed (and its a big one!). Papers will go out as usual the week before (Wednesday 1st) so watch this space to see what is coming forward for that meeting.
Of course you can see some of the new petitions on the e-petition site

Friday, 16 July 2010

Meeting in Arran

The PPC will be meeting at Arran High School on Monday 13 September and will start at 9.30 am. It will consider new and current petitions and it is hoped that some of these petitions will originate from the Arran / North Ayrshire area.

What characterizes the PPC is that it is a public facing committee and that it is committed to furthering the opportunities for engagement with the public. Once the formal business is finished, part of the proceedings will be turned over to a Q&A session (around 11.30 am).

Anyone in the audience will have the opportunity to discuss the work of the Parliament with the nine MSPs on the PPC, but also learn more about public petitioning, how to engage with the Parliament, what is the relevance of the Parliament to community groups, voluntary bodies, associations, 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 on the 13th September. More details on the actual petitions the Committee will discuss on the day will emerge nearer the time (the Committee's meeting agenda is published on

Friday, 11 June 2010

PPC mtg Tuesday 15 June

Agenda and papers for next Tuesday's meeting now published on PPC webpage. You will see that committee is back to more 'traditional' format with new and current petitions, including one oral presentation. In CR1 if you want to watch via Holyrood TV.
This is the second last committee meeting before the summer recess (final meeting on 29 June).
Fergus, Clerk to PPC

Thursday, 10 June 2010

John Smith Fellows

The Convener will meet with the John Smith Fellows this morning to discuss the public petitions process. This is an annual event for the PPC, meeting the new intake of delegates. Around 20 or so this year from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. The delegates attended a reception in the Parliament on Tuesday evening hosted by the Presiding Officer.
Fergus Clerk to the PPC

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Committee's annual report

Committee annual report published this morning. A best seller by the weekend I reckon. The report sets out the work of the committee over the parliamentary year (May-May) and there has been a lot. Interesting thing about doing these reports is the things you forgot the committee did. Lots of activity by it in terms of petitions considered, positive outcomes achieved, engagement work with external meetings and with delegations. All this crammed into 13 pages!
Hope you enjoy.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Three in a row?

Another short agenda for this afternoon's PPC meeting so I reckon a short meeting (1 hour?). No new petitions, no oral presentations, 'just' 14 current petitions. However, there is also the committee's annual report to discuss. Committee has tried to make the report more visually appealing with more narrative about its activities over the last parliamentary year and some photographs. I reckon it looks good but then I'm biased.
Usual format this afternoon, 2.00 pm start and live on Holyrood TV (CR1) as per.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

How is this happening!?

Another 'short' meeting today. That's two on the trot when the committee has got through all the petitions in under 2 hours. Although we continue to receive a good number of petitions, some of these are on the e-petition site at present and others we are still in discussion with the petitioner so they are not ready to go before the committee at a meeting.
I don't think there will be any new petitions at the next meeting on 1 June but I suspect 'normal service' will resume at the 15 and 29 June meetings, the last two before the summer recess, when the committee will look to get a good number of new petitions before it.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Monday, 17 May 2010

Cancer drugs petition

Further good news and move in the right direction on improving access to cancer treatment drugs which Tina McGeever has been promoting through her petition. The Scottish Government has today written to all NHS boards regarding the 'Introduction and availability of newly licensed medicines in the NHS in Scotland'. Also piece on BBC news.
This was on the back of the recent discussions at PPC meetings at which we considered and commented on a draft of the guidance now issued in final form.
Frank McAveety MSP, PPC Convener

Friday, 14 May 2010

Bavarian Parliament visit

A very interesting and useful discussion yesterday with our friends from the Bavarian Parliament. I hope they all enjoyed their week long visit to Scotland. As well as meeting with PPC members to discuss public petitioning, the delegation was particularly interested in justice related issues and visited Barlinnie Prison, Strathclyde Police, met with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and others during their time here.
I was pleased to take part in a short interview for Holyrood TV with the Hans Joachim Werner MdL who is my opposite number on the Committee for Supplications and Appeals. This is available on the main Parliament website but we have added a link to it here.
Frank McAveety MSP, PPC Convener

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Bavarian visit

You will know that the Committee for Supplications and Appeals (petitions committee) of the Bavarian State Parliament is visiting Scotland this week. A big welcome to them. They have a series of meetings lined up this week but of course the highlight will be the meeting with the PPC on Thursday! Lots of issues to get through including e-petitioning, format for committee meetings, committee information gathering techniques. Looking forward to exchanging ideas and views. More details to follow.
Frank McAveety MSP, PPC Convener

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Well done Ryan

You will recall the petition we considered from Ryan McLaughlin about new guidelines on vitamin D supplementation used in tackling MS. Ryan was a remarkable young petitioner who features on the front cover of our Making your voice heard leaflet we published last year (the photo was taken when Ryan and hundreds of other 'Bravehearts' marched down to the Parliament to hand over his petition).

Well Ryan recently won the European Taekwondo Championship (following on from his mum, a previous champion). From all at the PPC, well done Ryan. Well deserved!
Frank McAveety MSP, PPC Convener

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Visiting delegations

I know we posted a few weeks ago that members of the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag were coming over for a meeting with the PPC members. Alas, the volcanic cloud/airline situation postponed that meeting last week but we do hope to meet with the committee later this year. There are some features of the German petitions process we are particularly interested in. A big disappointment for us but an understandable reason as to why the members couldn't make the trip.
However, we are meeting with members of the Petitions Committee of the Bavarian State Parliament on Thursday (13th) next week which I know will be of interest and benefit to us all. The delegation is in Scotland all next week for a series of meetings.
Before then I look forward to meeting with Judy Spence MP who is the Leader of the House in the Queensland Parliament. She is visiting the Parliament today in her capacity as Chair of the Committee System Review Committee and we will be having a blether this afternoon about public petitioning and, specifically, the role of the PPC. On behalf of the PPC I submitted a contribution to their inquiry which I hope will be of interest. You will know that we have good relationships with legislatures in Australia for example, we have held a couple of videoconferences with the Petitions Committee in the House of Representatives and met with a number of elected representatives from other state parliaments such as Tasmania and Western Australia. Of course Queensland, like us, were the early pioneers of e-petitioning and this is something we will no doubt discuss later today. Bet the weather is warmer there than it is here!
Frank McAveety MSP, Convener PPC

Inside Parliament

The PPC meeting yesterday finished earlier than anticipated so I managed to stop by the education centre here to meet some teachers visiting the Parliament this week as part of the 'Inside Parliament' programme. Great idea this and shows a further willingness and commitment to open the doors of the Parliament and show folk what it does and how it can help. It was good to meet with some of the teachers taking part. I hope everyone involved enjoys their time with us this week.
Frank McAveery MSP, Convener PPC

Yesterday's meeting

Well I said I hope the committee wouldn't have another 4 hour meeting like it did on 20 April and it didn't. Only 1 3/4 hours. I've had hair cuts that have taken longer (not now though!). Two oral presentations yesterday with a lot of members interested in the RSPB petition (not least as four of them are members of the RSPB!). I think we are the point where petitions considered by the committee will not come back before them until after the summer recess.
Committee also agreed some changes to its previously agreed work programme. Next meeting is on Tuesday 18 May here at Holyrood. Next external meeting is Arran on Monday 20 September.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Meeting Tuesday 4 May

I don't think committee is aiming to repeat the marathon 4 hour meeting on 20 April at its next meeting on Tuesday 4 May in CR1 (if you want to watch on Holyrood TV). Agenda and papers issued today, on PPC webpage tomorrow morning in usual place.
Only three new petitions with oral presentations on the first two-
PE1315 Stop the illegal killing of birds of prey (lodged by from RSPB Scotland - there was a lot of publicity about this when it was lodged) and
PE1323 Community Centres for Scottish Shia Muslims
Committee will also be discussing a revised work programme which will cover possible revisions to meeting dates for 2010, external meetings, and also work around the young petitioners meeting it will be holding. That is last agenda item.
Hoping for a straight forward meeting (don't I always!).
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Yangtze campaign, 1949

Once again the Committee is showing how diverse the topic of petitions can be. This time, it is nothing less than the 1949 Yangtze campaign, thanks to William Leitch who petitioned the PPC only a couple of months ago. If you want to know more about this petition then just go to the PPC website to read petition PE1312.
Mr Leitch spared no efforts in trying to find archives describing the Yangtze campaign and the result is an astonishing collection of videos made between May and November 1949. Among them you will find the original footage of the Amethyst heroes in Hong Kong, the Yang Tse survivors reaching Shangai and London greeting the Amethyst men. All very interesting and informative videos.
Yang Tse survivors reach Shangai - 2.5.1949

Welcome Amethyst! - 3.11.1949

Jack French in his hometown Ashburton - 7.11.1949

The Amethyst returns in triumph - 11.08.1949

H.M.S London returns from the Far East - 15.09.1949

London greets the Amethyst men -17.11.1949

Amethyst heroes in Hong Kong - 18.08.1949

Gibraltar greets the Amethyst - 31.10.1949

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Further progress with cancer drugs petition

We discussed Tina McGeever's cancer drugs petition again today and made further progress. The Scottish Government sent us a copy of the draft guidance it plans to issue (later this month?) to NHS boards. 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, a name we didnt like)). The Cabinet Secretary was keen to hear the Committee’s, and Tina McGeever’s, views on this guidance before it was issued given the impetus for all of this has been the petition and the Committee’s inquiry report.
We had previously provided comments (see 2 March meeting) and were pleased that the CS had reacted positively to these as members said earlier today. We think this guidance is a big positive step forward and testament to the effort and hard work Tina has put into this.
We also considered a draft of a new leaflet to go out to patients aimed at providing information on how new medicines are made available. I will be writing to the Cab Sec tomorrow about this (the letter will be published). Lets focus on another important step forward with this petition which will bring further improvements to cancer patients and others.
Frank McAveety MSP, Convener

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Coming up

Was that not the title of a Paul McCartney song? Bother, now got tune in my head!
The committee is pleased to be hosting a visit in a couple of weeks time from the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag. This should be a very interesting meeting and follows on from meetings which the previous committees have had (September 2001 and September 2006) to discuss issues of mutual interest.
Some fascinating elements to the German petitioning process. The committee (the Petitionsausschuss) describes the petitions process as 'the Parliament's seismograph' which is a very neat way of describing petitioning. The committee there fulfills more of an ombudsman function and considers petitions on individual cases whereas 'Scottish' petitions must have a national dimension to them. It terms of size, you cannot compare. The Petitionsausschuss will consider over 20,000 petitions a year (jings, I would never get home!), membership is around 28. However, fundamental to both the German and Scottish systems is upholding and preserving the petitions process for citizens and providing a proper facility for them to raise isues with their parliament. Here, it reflects founding principles - access, participation, sharing power.
I'll post nearer the time but, as I say, it will be an interesting and useful discussion to which we are all looking forward to.
A couple of weeks later the Petitions Committee of the Bavarian State Parliament will visit. As I understand it, the petitions process in each of the 16 Lander reflects the process in the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) but obviously the states will perhaps be of a more comparable size to Scotland. A lot to learn from these meetings.

Next meeting

20 April, next Tuesday, is the 6th meeting this year of the committee. Agenda and papers issued today and will; be on committee's website tomorrow morning. Just to give you a wee taster, the committee will hear oral presentations on-
PE1319 Improving youth football
PE1322 Dance teaching and coaching in schools and colleges
PE1308 Publicly funded trade missions to Israel
There are 4 further new petitions to be discussed that day (in CR1 if you want to follow via live webstream on Holyrood TV)
There are 18 current petitions down for discussion including continuing consideration to Tina McGeever's petition (PE1108). Usual amazing array of topics.
Meeting starts at the usual 2.00 pm, reckon 3 hours for this meeting if not a wee bit longer. Phew!
Fergus Clerk to PPC

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 ( 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

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The blog

I'm trying to do a wee bit of tidying up of the front page of the blog (in case you notice something different). I want to make the links to other sources of information more visible so that it is easier for folk to navigate to the committee's webpage, the audioboo page, Picasa page etc.
Hope all will be sorted by end of the week.

What's happening?

Well, we prepare for next Tuesday's committee meeting with the papers going out today. These will be published on the website tomorrow (Thursday). Some of the 'big' petitions currently before the committee being disccussed on Tuesday. The Scottish Government housing minister Alex Neil MSP and Glasgow City Council leader Stephen Purcell will joing other witnesses in an evidence session on the petition from Govanhill Housing Association.
The committee will also consider the two petitions lodged on tackling knife crime. These are from Kelly McGee and John Muir. Those following this issue will be aware that the Justice Committee here is currently considering the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill which contains provisions relating to sentencing.
The committee will also continue its consideration of Tina McGeever's access to cancer treatment drugs petition on which a lot of progress has been made since the petition was first lodged two years ago.
As always, you can follow the meeting live (committee room 1) via Holyrood TV. Meetings starts at 2.00 pm with the Govanhill petition.

Tomorrow, the Convener meets with a delegation of parliamentarians from the Parliament of the Czech Republic to discuss the Scottish experience of petitions. A delagetion visited a coupe of years ago so there is continuing interest there in what we do here.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

E-petitions goes local

For all you avid followers of all things e-petitions (that would be me and eh, me!) I see that East Lothian Council has today launched its own e-petition system.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Thursday, 18 February 2010

External meetings

You will remember a while back I posted details of future external meetings of the committee. Just a wee update for you.
The meeting on Monday 15 March which was planned for St Sndrews will now take place at Waid Aacademy in Anstruther. The meeting will start at 10.30 am, all in public. More details to follow for those who want to come along to this.
This has put me in the mood for a bag of chips!
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Well done Ryan

Well done Ryan McLaughlin with your petition yesterday afternoon. Some strong and positive coverage of what you achieved in the papers today-

and I believe USA TODAY! Remember us if you end up on Oprah!
Photo below of Ryan and family with committee members receiving the very first copy of the new Making your voice heard leaflet which features Ryan on the front cover

Cue drum roll

Well, the moment has arrived. Three new hi-tech ways of getting involved with the Scottish Parliament launched today by the committee.
A series of social media tools - ‘boos’ (digital sound recordings), texts and pod casts - will allow a greater number of people to access information on what a petition is, how to submit and support one and what happens to a petition during committee meetings. As part of this launch a new streamlined information leaflet, ‘Petitioning the Scottish Parliament: Making your voice heard’ will explain the petitions process more clearly and simply.
All of these initiatives come as a response to the committee’s inquiry into the public petitions process which ran from June 2008 to June 2009 and the thoughts and suggestions put forward by members of the public at committee meetings in Berwickshire (Duns), Glasgow (Easterhouse) and Aberdeenshire (Fraserburgh).
Below is a quote from the committee convener Frank McAveety MSP-

“We were the first parliament in the world to accept e-petitions back in 2000 and now in 2010 we hope to maintain our reputation for innovation by increasing the options that make it easier for people to access information and submit petitions.
“From today, you can download our new leaflet, pod cast versions of this in a range of different languages, support an e-petition by text and listen to committee updates at AudioBoo. We hope these outlets, alongside our blog, will allow us to share information more easily and in more formats with petitioners and those following petitions.”

The new ways of accessing information about the petitions process are:
Using the AudioBoo website – which allows users to post and share sound files (‘boos’). This could be a useful tool for the committee to provide quick updates after its meetings on the outcomes of individual petitions so individuals will be able to hear quickly and easily what happened. The first ‘boo’ is now available (apologies for this, but recorded by me! - I might have a face for radio but I aint got the voice!)
A new service will allow individuals to text in support for an e-petition via their mobile phone.
The new ‘Petitioning the Scottish Parliament: Making your voice heard’ leaflet has also been produced in a pod cast format which can be listened to on a mobile phone or PC. These, along with the script of each and the template for lodging a petition are available in English, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Urdu, Polish and Gaelic.
The front page of the new leaflet features Ryan McLaughlin who petitioned the Parliament about the provision of vitamin D supplementation to tackle MS. Ryan was presented with the very first copy of the new leaflet by the Committee Convener. His petition was considered by the Committee at its meeting yesterday.

After reading this, admit it, the rest of today will be an anti-climax for you all.

Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Cue fanfare

With a trumpet fanfare worthy of Chuck Mangione (OK that was the flugelhorn) we head into this afternoon's marathon committee meeting. Only 45 petitions on the agenda and not the previously reported 46. Wow, what will I do with that 1 minute saving!
Follow live as per on the excellent Holyrood TV (CR1). No idea how long this meeting will last but would expect up to 3 hours anyway (as is usual).
Have the start of the Gladiator film in my head. "On my command, unleash petitions!"
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC
PS: Some announcements of new features being introduced by committee coming out tomorrow. Will make details available at 8.00 am tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Power blackouts imminent!!

The first band I ever saw in concert was Status Quo. Edinburgh Odeon, (June 1978 I think), row A, seat 15 (I still have all my concert tickets). Now you can imagine the sheer noise and power of being seated in the front row, right in front of a bank of 20 Marshall speakers. My ears have never been the same since! And the point is caller...!!!
Well, we have just issued the papers for the Committee next meeting on 9 February. There are 46 petitions on the agenda that day so, apologies to any PCs that crash or power surges caused as you try to access all this information. I am waiting for an e-mail from out IT folk here to tell me my inbox in full (so how will I get your e-mail?!)
These are all current petitions - ones already in the system. This is something the committee does a couple of time a year to try and move some petitions along. There are probably around 120 petitions under active consideration by the committee at the moment. Anyway, you will be able to see the full agenda from Friday when it appears on the PPC webpage. I wont flag up any in particular as there are so many. Usual start time of 2.00 pm on the 9th for this meeting. Beer and sandwiches in reserve just in case! Now, where did I put my sawn off denim jacket...
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Still here!

3 weeks into 2010 and this only the second post. "Shocking" as the judge in the brilliant Boston Legal would say!
Anyway, we haven't been sitting around doing zilch. We have next Tuesday's meeting when the committee will consider 6 new petitions. What, just 6! Yes, but it will be hearing oral presentations on 4 of these:
PE1307: Male victims of domestric abuse/violence
PE1303: Access to justice
PE1304: Safeguarding funding of charities
PE1305: Extension of the bowel cancer screening programme
The other two petitions are:
PE1301: Investigation of complaints against police
PE1306: Local public petitioning processes
Usual format, meeting starts at 2.00 pm on Tuesday in CR2 if you want to watch online via Holyrood TV. Papers are available via committee's webpage.
We are also busy preparing for a muckle meeting on 9 February when the committee will consider around 45 current petitions. Michty me! We are busy pulling everything together for this meeting as obviously we are dealing with twice the number of petitions the committee normally considers at a meeting. To give members more time to read the papers, we will be issuing end of next week.
Also finalising a few things which the committee hopes to announce in first week of February including a couple of innovative new IT based features. "Tell me more, tell me more" (as sung in 'Summer Nights'). Sorry, you will have to watch this space. We will be linking the announcement into the blog so you wont miss out.
Off for second gallon of coffee!
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

We are now back in building!

Jings, crivvens, help ma boab! What about this weather!
Anyway, a guid 2010 to one and all. We head into first committee meeting of the new year next Tuesday faster than my car skidding out of garage yesterday morning.
Agenda and papers now published and available on website. As you will see, the committee has two oral evidence sessions. First up, oral evidence from the Minister for Environment on the banning snares petition followed by a round table discussion on protection of national and regional parks petition. Usual arrangements - meeting starts at 2.00 pm, broadcast live on Holyrood TV (committee room 1).