THE Scottish Parliament has voted to pass a motion to establish two further Citizens Panels to scrutinise the work of MSPs.

It comes after the Citizen Participation and Public Petition Committee (CPPPC) undertook a year-long inquiry into public participation.

The motion, which was submitted in the name of Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw and passed unanimously, will see two new panels created with a view to making their use a “regular feature of committee scrutiny”.

Speaking in Holyrood, Carlaw (below) said: “I do believe the implications of the report could lead to a profound change in the way that democracy operates in Scotland and the way that the public in the widest sense are able to engage in parliamentary life.”

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The Committee’s inquiry focused on what more could be done to bring the Parliament closer to the public and how to improve wider public participation in parliamentary scrutiny.

In order to assist with this, the committee formed its own Citizens Panel – a group of 19 people from across Scotland who were asked: “How can the Scottish Parliament ensure that diverse voices and communities from all parts of Scotland influence our work.”

People were drawn randomly from an external agency to reflect a wide variety of demographics to participate in the original panel and the same system will be used for the new panels.

However, Carlaw said there could be an “informed representation” if an issue was specific to a certain cohort of people.

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The panel met over two weekends in late 2022 and made 17 recommendations which were published in the committee’s interim report.

It subsequently recommended that the Parliament create one panel undertaking post-legislative scrutiny and one looking at a “live political issue”.

As part of the research, the committee also looked at how similar systems being used at varying levels of government were being implemented in other European countries such as Belgium, France and Ireland.

In terms of specific issues, Scottish LibDem MSP Liam McArthur asked what specific topics lend themselves to the use of a Citizens Panel.

Carlaw replied: “I think it’s fair to say in Ireland the key initial citizen's panel was focused on the issue of legalisation of abortion.

“It was fascinating to meet with many of the hundred who had participated and who had gone on quite a journey because there was a fact-based secretariat that actually underpinned everybody’s opinion, and there were no bad opinions, but it underpinned that and led to a significant change and subsequent recommendation so not necessarily a budget consideration in that instance.

“In Paris, it was about issues relating to the rental sector and to green spaces in the city.”

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The SNP’s business manager George Adam, meanwhile, said he was in favour of the idea because it gave Parliament a direct chance to discover what the public wanted.

He said: “The Scottish Government’s vision for public participation is that people can be involved in the decisions that affect them, making Scotland a more inclusive, sustainable and successful place.”

Adam added that the panels were about trying to gather the opinions of people “from all walks of life” and accepted it was important to make Parliament “more approachable”.

The motion sets out that the use of these panels “will become a regular feature of committee scrutiny from Session 7 onwards”, following the 2026 Holyrood election.