More public say in Scots politics

October 16, 1998

Scots are anxious to have more direct links with a new Scottish parliament, including a civic forum to shadow its work and put forward proposals, a politics professor has revealed.

Alice Brown of Edinburgh University and a member of the consultative steering group for the Scottish parliament, told a schools' conference on "The new Scottish Politics" that the group had this week agreed that there should be a civic forum enabling people to discuss parliamentary policy.

There had been a survey of public reaction to the parliament. "What it told us is people expect the parliament to deliver in terms of education, health and housing. There is also a great expectation that the parliament will be much more open," said Professor Brown.

The steering group proposed a system of committees, including one on education, to examine policy before it reached parliament.

"These committees ought to be open to the public. They could coopt people, hear evidence from experts and themselves initiate legislation. That's a crucial difference in terms of what's happening in Westminster."

The work of the parliament would also be underpinned by information technology, which people elsewhere in the country could use to submit ideas to committees.

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