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Influencing Devolved Government Jill Flye, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

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Presentation on theme: "Influencing Devolved Government Jill Flye, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Influencing Devolved Government Jill Flye, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

2 How it all started

3 Civil Society involvement I970s, growing pressure for a Scottish Assembly 1979 Referendum, devolution supported by 52% of voters = 33% of electorate (40% required). Labour defeat in May Scottish Constitutional Convention formed – including political parties, local authorities, churches, voluntary and other organisations. SCC final report November Scotland’s Parliament, Scotland’s Right Labour Government White Paper July Scotland’s Parliament SCVO support for Yes Yes campaign Referendum 11 September 1997, produced clear majorities for a Scottish Parliament to be created, with certain tax-varying powers.

4 The CSG Principles Established to consult on and develop proposals on the Standing Orders for the Scottish Parliament. The Consultative Steering Group (CSG) included representatives of the four major Scottish political parties, and civic groups, and consulted widely, including with the voluntary sector. The group established the four founding principles of the Scottish Parliament: Power Sharing Accountability Accessibility and Participation Equal Opportunities

5 Powers Reserved to Westminster include Employment legislation (incl health and safety) Social security The constitution UK foreign policy, including EU policy Immigration and Nationality UK defence and national security The UK fiscal, economic and monetary system (incl taxes, coinage) Common markets for UK goods and services Consumer protection (not related to food safety) Transport safety and regulation Company law The National Lottery Equality Rights Legislation Political parties – registration and funding Elections The civil service Firearms Scientific procedures on live animals Intellectual property Research councils Energy (but not renewables)

6 Devolved Powers include: Health Education and training Local government Social work Voluntary sector Housing Area regeneration and planning Economic development Trade and exports Tourism Passenger and aspects of transport Scots criminal and civil law Judicial appointments Criminal justice and prosecution Civil and criminal courts, tribunals and legal aid Prisons Police and fire services Civil defence and emergency planning The environment Agriculture and food standards Forestry and fisheries Renewables Energy efficiency Sport and the arts Statistics, public registers and records

7 Discussion Point What do you think the main barriers and opportunities for the voluntary sector would be in dealing with a new Parliament that aims to encompass a new approach to politics, with openness and accessibility, power-sharing and participation built into its core principles, and for the Scottish Parliament in working to those principles?

8 How it works in practice

9 Scottish Government Petitions Contact with MSPs PQs and motions Members’ Business debates Scottish Parliament Committees Bill Stages Members’ Bills Working with a Minority Parliament Some differences in approach required

10 The Scottish Government Formed by largest party or coalition SNP minority government elected in May 2007 Comprises First Minister, and the Cabinet Secretaries and ministers, who lead directorates staffed by civil servants Legislative plans for the coming year are set out in the Programme for Government The Scottish Government proposes most legislation The Scottish Parliament scrutinises and passes the legislation, eg through the Committee system.

11 Working with the Scottish Government Respond to consultations Hold consultation Direct contact ministers/ Cabinet Secretaries Attend events Hold events Direct contact with civil servants Working groups/ stakeholder groups Continued partnership approach Compact with the sector

12 Left of centre party Membership united around independence Believe good governance can lead to independence Results/ outcome-focused Consensus seeking – want to get all Scotland on board Key departments – Finance and Sustainable Growth; Education and Skills; Health and Wellbeing Sustainable growth the over-arching aim About the SNP Government

13 Scottish Government Strategic Themes 1. Healthier Scotland 2. Wealthier and Fairer Scotland 3. Smarter Scotland 4. Greener Scotland 5. Safer stronger Scotland. A Directorate under each theme is headed up by a Cabinet Secretary and one or two ministers. Civil servants in each Directorate are headed up by Director-Generals, who form the Strategic Board. The aim is for increased cross-portfolio work.

14 The Concordat Concordat = a new relationship with local government Local government support for SNP policies More independence for local authorities Less ring fenced funding 15 National Outcomes set by the Scottish Government Single Outcome Agreements relating to National Outcomes agreed between LAs and Government How do voluntary organisations engage with the SOAs? – eg via Community Planning Partnerships

15 Working with the Scottish Parliament - Petitions Public Petitions Committee, a mandatory committee in the Scottish Parliament All petitions considered by at least one committee. Many petitions referred onto subject committee Petitions may be open for a considerable period of time Petitions not unlikely to succeed… But work best as one part of a wider lobbying strategy …Or when the petition is on a very specific issue (see case study example).

16 Contact with MSPs All MSPs able Smaller numbers Smaller political community Important to work across the parties Target your MSPs – constituency or regional MSPs, spokespersons, check biographies, committees, X-party groups, etc Good to have established contacts in advance of any crisis (see case study).

17 PQs and Motions Seeking information, or making a point Oral Questions – Scottish Government Question Time (themed and non-themed) First Minister’s Question Time Written questions Backbencher motions – often mention voluntary organisations Backbencher motions may go to debate. Members’ business debates frequently on voluntary sector topics.

18 Scottish Parliament Committees Unicameral parliament – powerful committees Membership (backbencher) reflects party balance in Parliament Scrutinise legislation, hold Scottish Government to account Voluntary organisations frequently give evidence Evidence sessions in public Meet weekly or fortnightly, mostly Tues and Weds. Can hold inquiries, propose legislation, and hold debates, Consider petitions, make recommendations to Parliament and to Scottish Government Opportunities – influence legislation, respond to inquiries, suggest inquiries…

19 The Scottish Parliament Bill Stages Bill introduced to Parliament, lead committee and secondary committee/s appointed Stage 1 – the general principles – most evidence (written and oral) given at the Stage. Lead Committee drafts Stage 1 report Stage 1 report debated in Parliament Stage 2 – Committee consideration of detail and amendments Amended bill reprinted Stage 3 - debate in full Parliament – further amendments voted on. Bill passed, or falls (Before Parliament – manifestos, Programme for Government, green papers, white papers, draft bills. After legislation passed – guidance, regulations, implementation)

20 Members’ Bills Any backbencher MSP can propose legislation Many will work with voluntary organisations on proposed legislation Don’t use solely/ primarily as a lobbying tool – the legislation may well be introduced! Needs support of 18 MSPs from different parties Labour intensive – for MSP and supporting organisations Can be useful to raise awareness through campaign even when legislation falls (see case study, free school meals) Excellent opportunity to develop and influence new legislation

21 The Current Make-up of the Scottish Parliament Scottish National Party 47 Scottish Labour Party 46 Scottish Conservatives 17 (minus 1) Scottish Liberal Democrats 16 Scottish Green Party 2 Ind 1 SNP and LibDems versus Conservatives and Labour … or SNP and Conservatives versus Labour and LibDems… = 62 versus 63

22 Discussion Point What do you consider would be the opportunities and barriers for voluntary organisations in working with a Scottish Parliament with a minority government?

23 Back to the Future Who will win the next Scottish Parliament election? Independence issue – dead and buried? Is there a place for Scottish voluntary sector views on the constitutional debate? What is the future of single outcome agreements and the localism agenda? What might the impact on Scotland be, of a Conservative Government at Westminster?


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