Inquiry into the Public Petitions Process - Response to the
Call for Written Evidence
The UNISON Scotland Submission to the Scottish Parliament's
Public Petitions Committee on their call for written evidence
for their Inquiry into the Public Petitions Process
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to the call
for written evidence from the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions
Committee on their Inquiry into the Public Petitions Process.
UNISON Scotland has over 160,000 members in Scotland, most of
whom work in the public sector across Scotland.
UNISON Scotland has only used the Public Petitions process on
a few occasions but at all times have found the process highly
accessible and easy to use.We believe the Scottish Parliament
should be proud of its initiative in setting up a comprehensive
process for individuals, communities and other organisations to
gain access to the Scottish Parliament and enable issues to be
put on the political agenda, when there was not necessarily any
other route open to them.This creates an opportunity for the Parliament
to be seen as open and democratic and available to all.UNISON
has answered the questions posed in the call for evidence, but
because our experiences have been helpful and positive, we have
not made many suggestions on how the process could be improved.
Responses to Questions Section 1 - Investigate, identify
and implement measures to improve awareness of, access to, and participation
in the public petitions process
- Are you aware of the existence of the Parliament's public
UNISON has been aware of the Public Petitions committee
since the inception of the Scottish Parliament.
- How did you find out about it?
UNISON has used the Scottish Parliament website on a regular
basis for many years and have found the Public Petitions Committee
very easy to access.
- Would you say you found this easy or difficult?
Greater publicity of some outcomes of petitions, examples of
the effects petitions have had on communities or individuals
could be included in, say, a newsletter attached to the website,
including in the News pages. Better media coverage both of the
process and of the outcomes should be considered. Consideration
should also be given to the provision of information both about
the process and the outcomes in public places, e.g. public libraries,
education institutions, etc.
- How do you think we might improve awareness of the petitions
Yes the material available on the website is helpful, understandable
and easily accessible
- In terms of the material produced about the petitions system,
do you think this is helpful, understandable and easily accessible?
UNISON believes that the information provided is very helpful
and adequate for individuals and organisations' needs; therefore,
we do not think any improvement is necessary.
- What improvements do you think we could make to the information
we make available about the petitions process?
See above - more information on outcomes of petitions should
be available on the website, perhaps in the form of newsletters.
Also, more information on progress of petitions would be helpful,
perhaps like the progress report on Bills passing through the
- What other information do you think we should provide and
- In terms of information, has anything hindered your access
to, or participation in, the public petitions process?
UNISON has used the petitions process on a number of occasions,
and has been able to gain any required access to the process.
We have had very good experiences in our dealing with the process
and believe it to be an important tool for bringing issues to
the political agenda.
Section 2 - Identify and implement initiatives to assist
in the effective and efficient processing of petitions, including
what role ICT can play
Whilst as stated above, UNISON has not found difficulty in accessing
the process, it has sometimes taken quite a time until the petition
is considered, it would be helpful to examine ways of speeding
up the process.
- How can the processing of petitions be improved?
Publicising the e-petition process would give greater access
to individuals and organisations to have a say on current petitions.
- What further methods could the Public Petitions Committee
implement to process petitions more effectively?
UNISON welcomes the introduction of the e-petition which gives
much greater access to both the process and the ability to become
involved with petitions currently undergoing scrutiny.
- What role can ICT play in making the processing of petitions
more effective and efficient?
The e-petitions procedure could be more prominently highlighted
on the website. However, having said this, the process is very
comprehensive and simple to use.
- In relation to e-petitions, how can the Scottish Parliament's
e-petitions procedure be enhanced?
UNISON does not believe there needs to be any other features
Section 3 - Investigate existing methods of scrutiny of petitions
and implement new methods or practices to further improve scrutiny
- What additional features would you like to see on the e-petitions
UNISON believes that the current methods of scrutiny are adequate.
We appreciate that the process is a key part of the Parliament's
commitment to democracy, openness and accessibility, by allowing
individuals, communities and other organisations to raise issues
of public concern, enabling them to participate in the democratic
process. As stated above, we have only had positive experiences
of the process.
- What are your views on the current methods of scrutiny that
are used by the Public Petitions Committee?
Other than considering ways to speed up the process, UNISON
does not believe any further measures are needed.
- What further initiatives and methods could the Public Petitions
Committee use to improve the scrutiny of petitions?
As stated above, UNISON's experiences of using the Public Petitions
process have been very positive. There are no specific initiatives
we could suggest that would improve the process
- From your experience as a petitioner, what would you like
to have seen done differently?
- What do you think worked well and how do we improve that
UNISON was happy with how the process worked on the occasions
we have used it as it enabled us to have issues important
to our members fed into the political agenda. Other than the
timescale, we do not have any further suggestions to make.
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Fax 0141-331 1203
For further information please contact:
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser - Policy
Diane Anderson, Information Development Officer diane.Anderson@unison.co.uk
0141 342 2842
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