Public 'Could Generate MSP Debate'

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ALEX SALMOND
PA

Debates on subjects brought forward by public petitions could be introduced to Holyrood, an MSP has said.

Labour's Paul Martin said the Scottish Parliament could follow Westminster's example, whereby campaigners who gather more than 100,000 petition signatures via a government website could have their ideas debated by MPs.

He made the suggestion as he appeared before Holyrood's Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, which is considering proposals to remodel the parliamentary week to enhance debates.

Mr Martin, the shadow business manager, said the petitions could be debated at the end of parliamentary business days, following decision time, in the slot normally occupied by members' business debates.

He said: "I think one of the opportunities that we might have in terms of taking things forward, is what we've seen at Westminster with the e-petition. It may be that the Parliament should look at providing opportunities for those organic types of debates to take place, where members of the public can submit petitions.

"It would probably have to be looked at differently from the 100,000 at Westminster but there may be opportunities there."

The committee is scrutinising a range of ideas and is expected to report on remodelling the parliamentary week before Christmas.

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