Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (17:43:55) — My adjournment matter is for the Special Minister of State. The action I seek relates to the petitions that we receive in this house. As you know, in 2016 we agreed to e-petitions. This had been a long process; I think it started in 2005 when this issue was first discussed. As I presented a petition this morning, it occurred to me: what happens after we table that petition? Absolutely nothing.
Honourable members interjecting.
Ms PATTEN — Very, very little happens. It is tabled, it is put into Hansard. I take it from Mr Davis that possibly the minister may be made aware of it.
Mr Davis interjected.
Ms PATTEN — The petitioner is not written to, Mr Davis. The petitioner and those that petition are not notified. There is no action really for them. Having just been on the Electoral Matters Committee study tour to Canada, I have been thinking about how we engage with our community and the lack of trust that our community has in us at the moment. How can we better engage our community? Petitions are one way of directly engaging with us but I do not think we give them the importance that we should.
The action that I am seeking from the government is to introduce a mandatory government response to petitions when a certain threshold of petitioners is met. This would not be for single-person petitions, but when a threshold is met I would like to see those petitioners notified and the government respond to the petition. The petition may be duly noted, but Scotland has a Public Petitions Committee where every petition is considered. Those petitions may be referred to a joint house committee or a standing committee. Those petitions may actually be referred to the house for greater debate on the floor. Those petitions are taken as important communications with the house.
I feel we should be taking greater notice of the petitions that this house receives, so the action that I seek from the Special Minister of State — as Special Minister of State but also as the Leader of the Government — is that he enacts a process where the petitions can be responded to, noted or actioned on once they have been tabled.
I would like to thank Ms Patten for her adjournment matter which is seeking the enactment of a process where petitions can be responded to, noted or actioned on once they have been tabled.
I can advise Ms Patten that I have requested that this matter be included on the agenda for the next meeting of the Procedures Committee.