HC Deb 13 January 1998 vol 304 cc172-3W
Mr. Ernie Ross

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the membership and remit of the Consultative Steering Group on the Scottish Parliament. [23095]

Mr. McLeish

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland announced on 14 November 1997 his intention to establish an all party Consultative Steering Group to take forward consideration of how the Scottish Parliament might operate.

I am delighted to report that all the main political parties have agreed to participate in the Group. Their agreement to come together to contribute to the development of ideas at this early stage augurs well for the future of the Parliament and the political process in Scotland.

The Group, which I will chair, will comprise the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) and the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond), or their representatives, representing the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, Mr. Paul Cullen QC, representing the Scottish Conservative Party, Mr. Keith Geddes CBE from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Canon Kenyon Wright, from the Scottish Constitutional Convention, Professor Alice Brown, from the Department of Politics, University of Edinburgh, Dr. Joan Stringer, Principal of Queen Margaret's College, Ms Joyce McMillan, a writer and journalist who chaired the Constitutional Commission, Ms Esther Roberton of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, Mrs. Deirdre Hutton, Scottish Consumer Council, Mr. Andrew Cubie, a lawyer and former chair of the CBI in Scotland, and Mr. Campbell Christie, General Secretary of the STUC.

These individuals, who cover a wide range of relevant Scottish interests, have been chosen for the personal contributions they can make to the work of the Group. I am confident that this Group will work effectively to develop proposals for how the Scottish Parliament should operate and how it will relate to the Scottish public.

The Group will be supported by Scottish Office officials who will be able to draw in advice from a number of expert panels in the relevant fields in preparing proposals for further consideration by the Consultative Steering Group. These will include expert panels on Parliamentary procedures, on the scrutiny of financial matters, on how the Parliament might make best use of IT and telematics and on broadcasting and related media arrangements.

The Group will meet for the first time on Monday 19 January, when members will be asked to approve the following draft remit: To bring together views on and consider the operational needs and working methods of the Scottish Parliament. To develop proposals for the rules of procedure and Standing Orders which the Parliament might be invited to adopt. To prepare a report to the Secretary of State for Scotland by the end of 1998, to inform the preparation of draft Standing Orders.