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Assessment of the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions system, 1999-2006

Carman, Christopher (2006) Assessment of the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions system, 1999-2006. [Report]

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1. The Scottish Parliament is an evolving political system both in terms of its relationship with the Scottish people and its own inner workings. In many ways it is a system that is adapting and learning as it charts political paths that are otherwise unprecedented within Scotland’s political system. The public petitions system, in particular, has evolved substantially since it was established with the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. 2. As the second session of the Parliament draws to a close, the Scottish Parliament commissioned an independent review of the petition’s system with the aim of better understanding how the petition system functions, the types of petitions submitted since the beginning of the parliament and how petitioners evaluate the petitions system. 3. The research presented in this report was commissioned by SPICe in May 2006.1 The period covered by this project, June 1999 to May 2006, includes the first petition submitted to the Parliament (PE1, lodged on 14 June 1999) through the 964th petition (PE964, lodged on 12 May 2006). 4. This report focuses on several aspects of the petitions system as it has evolved within the Scottish Parliament: The scope and range of petitions submitted to the Public Petitions Committee (PPC) The PPC’s procedural mechanisms for handling petitions Changes in the PPC’s procedures from the first to the second session of the Parliament Petitioners’ characteristics Petitioners’ perceptions and evaluations of the petitions system