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.

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