Citizens’ committee in Holyrood would ‘hold MSPs to account’

Scotland's first Citizens' Assembly has published its vision for the country's future in a new report.

Citizens’ committee in Holyrood would ‘hold MSPs to account’ ewg3D via Getty Images
Holyrood: Citizens' Committee would 'hold government to account'.

A Citizens’ committee in Scottish Parliament would help the public become more engaged in decision-making and hold the government to account.

That is the view of Scotland’s first-ever Citizens’ Assembly which has published its vision for the country’s future in a new report.

Released on Wednesday, it contains recommendations on ways to overcome challenges in engagement with politicians and government.

It also focuses on issues such as income, poverty, tax, the economy, health and wellbeing, support for young people, sustainability and further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

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It says a Citizens’ Committee in Holyrood would be a randomly selected body offering advice and opinions on proposals, reviewing the work of parliament, with all members being encouraged and supported to take part for a fixed term.

A House of Citizens tasked with scrutinising government proposals and giving assent to parliamentary bills has also been suggested by the report.

The Assembly, made up of around 100 Scottish citizens, say the house should always be representative of the country’s population and have a time limited membership.

The report also says that MSPs should be encouraged to act on the views of their constituents rather that sticking with party lines.

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On income and poverty the assembly’s report recommended that paying employees the national living wage should be a legal requirement and that zero-hour contracts should be banned.

The report, which makes a total of 60 recommendations, will be laid in parliament for debate with an action plan to follow.

For the report the assembly was asked to consider what kind of country was being built and how best to tackle key challenges, deliberating on a range of evidence from key experts.

The group was paused in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and resumed in September.

Convener Kate Wimpress said: “Our members made up a ‘mini-Scotland’ and worked hard together over many months to find common ground.

“I’m delighted that the Assembly’s report offers such a positive vision for our future and a set of bold and imaginative recommendations.

“This is not a box ticked, or a full stop, but a beginning, opening up a new chapter in our democracy with citizens at its heart.

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“It puts Scotland at the forefront of democratic innovation globally.”
One member Shona said: “Before the Assembly, politics was something somebody else did. That wasn’t me. I had no say in what politics were about before.

“Now, I have had a say on how we bring Scotland forward for the next generation.”

Another member, Anne, said: “It’ll go down in history, to be part of the first ever Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland.

“I want to be part of Scotland’s future and I’m passionate about Scotland thriving as a country. To be part of something where you’re representing the people – I want my daughter to look back and say ‘that’s my mum’s face there, she’s part of that line-up of people that were involved in that’.

“It makes you feel so proud.”

The full report of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland can be read online at citizensassembly.scot.