Grayling has produced a comprehensive guide looking at the membership of each Scottish Parliament committee and their future areas of focus.
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The Committee system at Holyrood is changing and not before time. What was once regarded as the jewel in the Holyrood crown has become jaded. The negotiations over committees have come to an end and the memberships settled. Whilst new Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, has said “how co-operative and collegiate” the negotiations have been, it is unlikely the cordial relations will continue.
Committees will certainly be stronger. The SNP has recognised that parliamentary scrutiny had been undermined by their own success. The party has relinquished their committee majorities, meaning power will swing back towards Parliament. Committees will now be able to vote for reports which can have more bite and more readily hold the Government to account. Whilst there will be some consternation amongst the opposition that the SNP has held onto the Convenership of the Education Committee, given it is the central plank of the Government’s programme, Labour will chair Public Audit, without an SNP majority and both economy committees are chaired by the Tories and will tackle the Government on a fragile economy.
In terms of Conveners, Labour’s Neil Findlay in the chair on Health and Sport and the Conservatives’ Margaret Mitchell at Justice are likely to bring about some fiery head-to-head encounters. Former Labour leader Johann Lamont will also wish to reinvigorate the once sacred Petitions Committee.
Without a cultural change and greater independence of SNP backbenchers, the changes to the committee system could result in minority reports leaving the system fracturing again. Grayling will be watching to see how the new structure beds-in.