Hybrid working set up during the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland’s Parliament should continue, a Holyrood committee has said.
In response to the pandemic, Holyrood set up a number of processes to allow for proceedings to continue without MSPs having to attend the Parliament in person.
MSPs and witnesses could appear at committees using video-conferencing, while the same could be done in chamber debates, as well as an app set up to allow parliamentarians to vote.
As well as recommending that these measures continue in Holyrood, the report from the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee recommended a proxy voting pilot is undertaken that would mean MSPs could nominate another member to vote on their behalf if they are unable to.
Our practices and procedures should be fit for the Scotland of today and ready for the Scotland of tomorrowMartin Whitfield, committee convener
A new report from the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee said: “While emphasising that in-person participation in parliamentary business should be the normal expectation, the committee has concluded that hybrid meetings should continue in order to provide members the opportunity to participate remotely in certain circumstances.
“Furthermore, the committee believes that committing to continuing hybrid arrangements is consistent with the Parliament’s founding principles of accessibility and equal opportunities as it will allow the parliament to be more inclusive in the future.
“The Parliament will be able to engage with people in the same ways as they engage using new forms of technology.
“Looking to the future, the committee hopes that the capacity for members to participate remotely in parliamentary business will attract a more diverse range of candidates to stand for election to the parliament.
“It also hopes that the Parliament can be more inclusive, seeking evidence from witnesses all over Scotland who reflect Scottish society more fully.”
Committee convener Martin Whitfield said: “Parliament cannot stand still. During the pandemic we saw a huge amount of change across the country.
“Working from home, Zoom video calls and remote learning became the norm for many of us, including Parliament. It is important we continue to evolve and take advantage of the technology around us.
“But these changes need to be about more than just technology. Our practices and procedures should be fit for the Scotland of today and ready for the Scotland of tomorrow.
“We must challenge ourselves to innovate and introduce new measures and be willing to look closely at how we work.
“Our report recommends the introduction of a proxy voting pilot scheme for MSPs. This will ensure your MSP can still represent you even when circumstances rightly mean they cannot cast their vote.”