Being part of the ‘MOT’ for Parliament
By Katie Burke MSYP
When the Scottish Parliament was first formed in 1999, it set out to be an open and inclusive Parliament for everyone in Scotland; the start of a new chapter in Scottish politics. For the large part, the Scottish Parliament has lived up to this initial vision; it continues to be at the forefront of policy issues, and its education and outreach services are world leading. But, like any institution there is always room for improvement. Following his election as the new Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Ken MacIntosh MSP announced a plan to give the Parliament a metaphoric ‘MOT’. While this ‘MOT’ isn’t being carried out by a mechanic (obviously), the principles remain the same; to assess the state of the Parliament and to ensure it is ‘road worthy’ moving ahead.
To carry out the ‘MOT’, the McCormick Commission on Parliamentary Reform was created last October, and I was honoured to be made one of 11 Commissioners. My fellow Commissioners come from across politics and civil society, with each of the major political parties represented. The Commission’s remit is to consider how Parliament can ensure:
- The right checks and balances are in place to ensure that it works effectively
- It increases and improves the way it engages with the public and wider society
- There is clarity around its identity as distinct from that of the Scottish Government
As the only young person on the Commission, I have been excited to bring the voices of young people to the conversation, something I am daily committed to as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament. The Scottish Youth Parliament was actually formed one day before the Scottish Parliament, and has always found that politics, when firmly issue-based, is something everyone can get involved in.
This is a principle I am working to bring to the Scottish Parliament as well. The issues that get debated in the Parliament chamber are important to everyone in Scotland. Sometimes politics be daunting, but the issues themselves effect everybody. Our democracy will only thrive if the people of Scotland see the work of their Parliament, and are able to relate to it.
As a way of making the Parliament accessible and relatable to everyone, the Commission has set up a public consultation into people’s experiences with Parliament, regardless of their previous level of engagement with it. The Commission really wants to hear from you through this survey. The survey is open now, and will remain so throughout the spring. The recommendations will be published, and will help shape the future of the Scottish Parliament.
This is the first time this has happened in 17 years, so don’t miss your opportunity to have your say. It’s your Parliament and your voice.
Be heard: http://ow.ly/W4N9306u2tw