The submissions made to the Commission have been sorted into order and are listed with comments. When viewing one submission it is possible to move to the next one in the list with one mouse click.

Our comments are shown for each one below. The number [00] indicates the number of the submission allocated by the Commission. We have color coded the submissions as follows: A red line above the name indicates a worth while read. Excepts from the submission are in Italics.

If as an author of one of these papers, you would like to make some comment, please send it to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for consideration. 

The report

The report was published on Tuesday 20 June 2017, and is over 100 pages long: click here to read it.

It contains the string "account" which is included in such words or phrases as "accountability" and "hold to account" 47 times.

Nevertheless it is still impossible to get a straight answer to simple question from not only some MSP's but also from senior officials in the administration.

The papers submitted, upon which the report is apparently based, are listed below.

MSPs, MPs, et al

Members of the Scottish Parliament

Joe Fitzpatrick, MSP [45]

Observations on the Attendance on Committees in a 2 page letter 

Patrick Harvie, MSP [93]

4 page letter on Representation on Committees - Commentary on process

Margaret McDougall, MSP [9]

1 page letter on Briefings

Communication should be in plain language . . . .

John Mason, MSP [66]

An excellent review in the manner requested in a 3 page letter which follows the guidelines.

  • A step backwards that committees have increased in size to 11.
  • The key issue is how independently minded individual MSPs actually are.

Edward Mountain MSP [34]

3 page letter - Comments on Committees  

Difficult to get a unanimous decision.

Mike Rumbles MSP [18]

1 page paper - Comments on Reforming the voting system

Two tier distinction between Constituency [FTFP] and List [AMS].

Alexander Stewart MSP [44]

2 page paper on Checks and Balances - Observations ...

Pete Wishart MP, Chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee [99]

2 page letter on Cross Party Committees

Introduce a new committee type: Scrutiny - Sensible suggestion

Former Members of the Scotish Parliament

Cameron Buchanan, Former MSP [14]

Informal 1 page note on Committees

most of us felt we were becoming a one party state

Dennis Canavan, Former MSP [10]

2 page letter on Imbalances - Informal Comments

  • There is a huge degree of control freakery in the Parliament whereby party bosses have too much power and back-benchers too little.
  • It is very difficult for a member to make a reasoned argument in four minutes.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas PC QC, Former MP [2]

2 page letter on Committees - Comments

Committees not fulfilling their purpose checking the power of the executive..

Dorothy-Grace Elder, Former MSP [37]

5 page paper on Parliamentary Business - Comments

  • The "closed door" Party Business system encourages tribalism.
  • MSPs seem really scared not to toe the party line.

Alex Fergusson, Former MSP [100]

1 page paper with a Comparison to New Zealand

Fewer MSP’s working longer hours

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, MSP [33]

2 page paper on Scrutiny - Follows Guidelines

Principal duty of Parliament to ensure effective scrutiny of both Ministers and Civil Servants.

Jim Mather, Former MSP [13]

Informal 1 page letter on System Tampering

A lot lost in translation as the various rapporteurs gave their version of what was said and agreed

Dr Ian McKee MBE, Former MSP [12]

A 3 page paper on Health matters - Lack of Scrutiny

Once Parliamentary Liaison Officer to Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Rt. Hon. Lord Jack McConnell, Former MSP [57]

2 page paper on Fine tuning Scotland's Parliament

  • Needs Improvements after 17 years,
  • Ruling Party is too strong.
  • Need for the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise Ministers.

Rt. Hon. Henry McLeish, Former MSP [58]

3 page paper on Shaping Scotland's Parliament - some Questions

Continues on from December 1998

Graeme Pearson, Former MSP [15]

1 page on Informal notes about Answers to written questions

difficulties MSPs face trying to obtain straight answers to written questions

Committes and Commissions etc

Audit Scotland [82]

An excellent 9 page paper on the workings of Audit Scotland, with some excellent suggestions which follows the guidelines.

  • Most public bodies find engaging with communities challenging.
  • Not a full understanding of the different roles of the Scottish Government, Parliament and local government.

Commission on Highland Democracy [23]

5 pages of comments on Communities

  • Communities should be able to make local decisions for themselves.
  • Communities to take over complete control of services.

Scottish Human Rights Commission [32]

A 12 page paper on Human Rights, introducing the Belgrade Principles

Everyone wishes that their Human Rights are respected.

Convener's Group [46]

2 page letter about Timings of Committee meetings - some observations ...

Cross Party Group on Racial Equality in Scotland [67]

A meaningless 1 page report on a questionnaire to 15 people on Visiting Parliament one way or another... 

Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee [28]

A 1 page letter on Committee Operation

Committee finds itself restricted in its ability to hold in-depth discussions with key witnesses.

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee [30]

A 4 page letter on Scrutiny of legislation - Structured Comment

Annual report as a means ofholding the Scottish Government to account.

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee [29]

A 4 page letter  about Committee Operation

Avoid duplication of Scottish Government work streams

Equalities and Human Rights Committee [27]

A 4 page letter commenting on Committee Operation

The Committee has begun to expand its knowledge of human rights.

Regulatory Review Group [40]

A 2 page letter on Regulation: Review of Acts - Ignores Guidelines

Create legislation right first time.

Scottish Labour Parliamentary Group [87]

A 3 page paper on Procedure - Urgent Questions - Structured Commentary

  • Lack of Open, Honest, Truthful statements by Ministers.
  • Improving the overall quality of debate.
  • Government ministers regularly avoid giving detailed answers to MSPs

SNP Parliamentary Group [79]

A 3 page letter. A nonsense gabble on the SNP because ...

Misreads the guidelines: e.g. not Parliament & Government but Scotland and Westminster.

Servants of the State

Parliamentary Counsel Office, Scottish Government [59]

A paper which introduces the 116 page “Guidance on drafting legislation”.

  • Ignores Guidelines
  • An Explanatory Document which would make an ISO 9001 Procedure.

Scottish Parliament Officials [60]

An 11 page paper on The legislative process which iIgnores Guidelines but is just an Explanatory Document

Would make an ISO 9001 Procedure.

Alasdair McCaluim [22]

A 2 page paper suggesting that Parliament speak Gaelic

Why not ? Lowland Scots, or the Hieland version ?

Andrew Mylne [97]

A 3 page paper on Committees, Symbols, Operational Improvements - speakers time,

  • Avoid any sort of tick-box approach, and instead to engage appropriately with whoever is best-placed.
  • Often-sterile confrontation and tribalism.

Trade Union Side in the Scottish Parliament [70]

A 2 page paper on  “Us - The clerks”

  • Partially follows Guidelines
  • More about tick boxes, and not enough staff to hold pencils.

Television Coverage

ITV Border [43]

A 2 page paper on Media Coverage - some Comments Observations ...

STV [72]

A 3 page letter proposing better lighting etc etc - No useful comments

Learned Societies, Persons, etc

Learned Societies

RSA Fellows in Scotland [104]

A 5 page paper on Structural Reform - Comments

  • Worth a read.
  • Some good ideas.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh [11]

A 9 page paper on Underpinning Principles which Follows Guidelines, with Analysis

  • The Commission may wish to reflect on whether these principles are met.
  • It is important to stress that inadequate fiscal scrutiny can be hugely costly, both financially and politically.
  • There is a strong argument that the Scottish Parliament simply does not have the capacity to hold the Government to account effectively.

Learned Persons

Prof. Cristina Leston-Bandeira [24]

A 5 page paper on Models for Public Engagement  - Structured Comments

Public engagement is still a very new activity for Parliament.

Professor Sarah Childs [55]

A 2 page paper that submits “The Good Parliament”  Research

Really for the UK Govt

Dr Oliver Escobar [20]

A structured 4 page paper on Democratic innovations in public engagement.

  • Are we creating inclusive processes where everyone has an equal chance to participate and influence?
  • Are we fostering empowered processes?

Dr Marc Geddes and Professor James Mitchell [102]

A 9 page paper on Enhancing Scrutiny

  • Structured Commentary
  • The introduction of elected conveners, & a parallel chamber

Professor Michael Keating [56]

A 2 page paper on Devolved Parliaments in Europe, Electoral System and Power

Consequence of ‘parliamentary’ model is dominance by the executive.

Prof. Nicola McEwan [50]

A page paper commenting on Parliamentary Oversight

Whether the Scottish Parliament requires a revising chamber.

Prof. Alan Page [49]

A 2 page paper on Change in Parliament - Structured Comment

The Conveners Group’s programme for change emerged as more about securing favourable media coverage

John Sturrock QC [8]

A 4 page paper on Training in Advocacy and Consensus Skilled Commentary 

  • Lead to inadequate accountability, scrutiny
  • “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Accountability Scotland

Accountability Scotland [73]

An 8 page paper on Lack of Administrative Justice

  • Structured Commentary
  • Use of ISO 9001  
  • The recommendation was ignored by the justice directorate.
  • Administrative justice is far larger than either criminal or civil justice.

John Colledge [41]

A 3 page paper on Brunstane Bank & Planning  - Generally Follows Guidelines

  • Getting the run-around.
  • MSPs won’t engage with the people.
  • The LGRC have a history of refusing to hold the SPSO to account.

Dr John Hinton [47]

A 1 page list of petitions and failures

MSPs on the Petitions Committee can be misled

Dr Niall MacKinnon [91]

A 6 page structured commentary on Lack of Accountability in State Education.

  • State power in Scotland is primarily wielded by quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations.
  • The problem lies in mandated diktat.
  • The SPSO farce of 7th Jan 2015 - see Page 4 of submission.

Eur Ing Richard Townsend-Rose [69]

A 3 page paper on Abuse of Process regarding Water Charges and Misuse of Court by a State owned Company

  • Follows Guidelines
  • Failings of the SPSO
  • Illustrates the difficulties that are often encountered by members of the public in trying to engage parliament and government.
  • Methodology used by the Administration to thwart the Elected Members.

Minorities and Disabled etc

Culture Counts [6]

A 2 page paper on No clear representation. Follows Guidelines

Role of the Committees is to hold Ministers to account but it is not always clear how this works in practice.

Scottish Disability Equality Forum [4]

A 7 page paper on Inequality of Representation - Follows Guidelines. A second 15 page submission with simple answers.

  • Yes, with LGBT community, Gaelic community and cyclists with large budgets. No to the rest.
  • Government do not listen to professional sources; e.g. airguns.
  • Slanging matches and nasty comments detract from serious debate and should not be allowed.

The Equality Network [25]

A 4 page paper on LGBTI [Omits neutered persons] - Follows Guidelines

Under the Scotland Act the courts can overturn or amend Scottish Parliament legislation

GCVS, SCOD and VAS [96]

A 15 page paper on Human Rights [and where is my state salary & pension ? ]

Unite Scotland [101]

A 1 page paper on Human Rights & UNGP - Ignores Guidelines

  • In support of the paper from GCVS, SCOD and VAS
  • The SPCB should be delivery agent for Scotland’s National Action Plan on Human Rights (SNAP)

Inclusion Scotland [81]

A 5 page paper on Proportionate Representation & Employment. - Follows Guidelines

Comments by the disabled for the disabled.

Lochaber Disability Access Panel [84]

A 6 page paper on Disinterest in remote regional areas. Follows Guidelines

  • Leave 0603, return 2355, for 90 minutes. This prevents any meaningful discussion on any issue.
  • Many of the public see the Government and Parliament as being one entity.
  • Absolutely no accountability in the Parliament or the Local Authorities Unachievable legislation is meaningless.

Coalition for Racial Equalities and Rights [3]

An 8 page paper on The Good Parliament. Follows Guidelines

  • Additional funding could be allocated to SPICe to bring in independent experts.
  • Improve scrutiny by committees.
  • Change the structure of debates.

Scottish Women’s Convention [38]

A 5 page paper on Women. Follows Guidelines

The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government seen as “one and the same”

Other Organisations

ICAS [48]

A 3 page letter on Scrutinising and challenging legislation.

  • Structured Comment
  • Prohibiting the appointment of Committee Chairs from the Party in Government.
  • Some good new ideas.

Action for Children [80]

A 3 page paper on Disadvantaged Children - Partially follows Guidelines

Not all of its service users and staff were aware of, or even understood, the difference between the Scottish Parliament and Government.

The Church of Scotland [85]

A 4 page paper on Involvement of the people with Parliament.

  • Follows Guidelines
  • Confusion between responsibilities of MPs, MSPs and local government

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities [61]

An excellent 5 page paper About Democratic Supremacy - Local v Central - Comments per Guidelines

  • Democratic Renewal
  • Local government is out of step with other modern democracies.
  • Need to reinvent the structures and practices of democracy.
  • Spectators rather than full participants in their democracy.
  • Accountability has not always been clearly understood

Alistair Stoddart, The Democratic Society [63]

An 8 page paper on Potential for digital engagement - Guidelines unsuitable

Digital haves and have nots.

Dr Andy Williamson, Democratise [64]

A 10 page paper on Digital and Social technologies - Guidelines unsuitable

Insufficient knowledge among staff key challenge use digital effectively.

Evangelical Alliance [71]

A 3 page paper on Christians and Scotland - Follows Guidelines

  • Parliament is unaware of the valuable work undertaken by the Christian community.
  • Difficult for the electorate to de-select an MSP with a high enough party position.

Fairshare Voting Reform [86]

An 8 page paper on Accountibility - Structured Comments

  • Improving Proportional Representation from AMS to STV-PR
  • Elected members to hold the Government properly to account.
  • MSPs had allowed parties’ interests to displace that of voters.
  • Voters do NOT understand PR

Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland [95]

A 15 page paper on Freedom of Information in a Human Rights context.

  • A good review of FOI status in Scotland - More of a history lesson.
  • Does not follow the guidelines.
  • A culture of openness cannot be simply measured by compliance with FoISA and the EIR(S)s.
  • Scottish Parliament has not pro-actively audited compliance.

GoWell Panel [42]

A 3 page paper on Social Housing in Glasgow Paper - Answers Items 1 to 3

A thank you from what is in effect adisability group.

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations [88]

A 6 page paper on Housing and Objectives, Overly complex committee system and law making process.

  • Partially follows guidelines
  • Scottish Parliament and trying to influence its scrutiny of the Scottish Government.

Involve [54]

A 2 page paper on Practice of public participation

  • Ignores Guidelines
  • Who do MSPs need to hear from?

Moray Estates Development Company [62]

A 1 page letter on Submissions - Oral & Written Letter - Ignores Guidelines

General disinclination to take on board views which were contrary to government [SNP] policy.

The North East Multi Agency Chief Executive Forum [92]

A 7 page paper on Coordination of Local Government, Accountability to the Integrated Joint Boards.

  • Structured Commentary - Full of Jargon
  • As an example for better co-ordinating pre-legislative work, the group would highlight the cross organisational and sectoral issue of preventing inequality and reducing demand for public services.

Scottish Older Peoples Assembly [26]

A 1 page paper on Interaction - Structured Comments

  • No impression that the MSPs will take issues forward to government for action.
  • If one says black the other feels obliged to say white.

PAS [Planning Advisers] [90]

A 2 page paper on Planning - Objective & Process

  • Answers Item 1
  • More a marketing document than anything else.

Association for Scottish Public Affairs [77]

A 3 page paper: An advert for Scotland ?

  • Partially follows Guidelines
  • Improve the quality and enactment of legislation in Scotland.

Sir Bernard Crick Centre, University of Sheffield [98]

A 2 page paper on Developing a culture and approach to public engagement

  • Summary Answers Items 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8
  • Public Engagement a must
  • Quality of scrutiny and not quantity

Duncan Thorp, Social Enterprise Scotland [103]

A 2 page paper on Democracy - Unelected MSP’s - Some Comments

Democracy and elections are now seen as the same thing - but they are not.

Chartered Institute of Taxation [65]

A 2 page letter submitting a 65 page report: Better Budgets: making tax policy better.  

  • Ignores Guidelines
  • A previously published Research Report about budgets in Britain.

National Assembly for Wales [21]

Two 5 page papers on Empowerment by Innovation, and Engagement

  • Structured Comments
  • Increased the number of people contributing to Assembly business.
  • Making government more accountable to the Assembly and the people of Wales

Young Scot [53]

A 3 page paper on Communication with young people acquiring the vote.

  • Ignores Guidelines
  • In the spaces they operate, in a format that they understand, and in a context that is relevant.

Other People

Anonymous [89]

A 1 page paper on Some ideas on engagement.

Charles Barrington [68]

A 1 page paper on Use of Community Councils Paper - Comments on three items

Noted that Community Councils are generally a collective of self appointed do-gooders.

Francis Berry [31]

A 2 page letter on Air Rifles: 

Complaint that a FOI to SPCB on advice to the Presiding Officer refused.

Alistair Bonnington [19]

A 6 page paper on Generic Behaviour of MSP’s Paper 6

  • Structured Comments
  • behave like 5 year olds in the Chamber
  • SNP MSPs are "Stepford Wives"
  • Trust in politicians in democracies is at all time low

John Cawley [17]

A 3 page paper on Lobbying, and Scrutiny

  • Follows Guidelines
  • An over powerful executive and a legislature failing in its duty to scrutinise and hold the executive to account.
  • A former SNP minister resigned as a minister and took a position with Message Matters, a lobbying company run by a former Conservative MP

Dr James Gilmour [36]

A 5 page paper on Voting System - AMS to STV-PR

  • Structured Comment
  • MSP’s allow parties’ interests to displace the interests of the voters.
  • Electors do not properly understand the purpose of the two votes in AMS

Vince Handley [75]

A 3 page letter Submitting two poems 

  • Homeland;
  • Wasteland

James W Hunter [39]

A 5 page paper on Chamber Operation

  • Important matters which need intense scrutiny do not get the attention they deserve.
  • The replies by the First Minister are invariably too long.
  • Committees neded to be named succinctly.

Samir Lee, Edinburgh University [52]

A 2 page paper on Committee Operation - Research Edinburgh University

The aim was to document good practice, and draw out lessons for engagement.

Dr Hartley Millar [94]

A 2 page paper on Parliamentary Structure across Party’s.

The exigencies of party politics are liable to lead governments to precipitate actions, to over-promising and to trying to hide evidence of failure.

Joseph Morris [16]

Just 1 page of Notes on Informal SNP hogging question time

Restrict ruling party questions, time for answers to 2 minutes to prevent the first minister going on a ramble

Andrew Nicoll [35]

A 3 page letter on Complaints by Constituents

Your Parliament -Your Voice. I say: Their Parliament - Their Voice.

Joseph Scullion [7]

A 1 page letter on Allegiance

It seems right for MSPs to swear allegiance to the people of Scotland

Nigel Smith

A 52 page paper - A history of how the present chaos has arisen. A short book.

  • A very interesting read.
  • To a de-centralist, there is no reason why Scotland cannot have a strong and effective parliament within the UK. It has one - if it would only use it properly.
  • The consensual layout of the impressive new chamber was more of a fashion statement than a reality.
    A more co-operative less adversarial parliament than Westminster

Alan Thomson [74]

A 1 page letter on Question First Minister’s Diet

What is it ?

Gary Wallace [78]

A 1 page paper on Support for the Gaelic Language

  • Three good sentences.
  • Aim for people [MSP’s] to represent their area and work in a collaborative way for all of Scotland

Dr Hannah White [51]

A 1 page paper commenting on More effective scrutiny

Highlighting areas where there is little transparency