Annexe C

EXTERNAL MEETINGS POLICY

1. The Committees recognise that as a matter of principle they should seek to meet outwith Edinburgh from time to time to allow interested members of the public from different parts of Scotland to attend their meetings. In particular, where a subject under consideration is relevant to a particular location, committees will take this into account in their forward planning.

2. Committees recognise the importance of forward planning. Committees will plan external meetings and fact-finding visits as far in advance as possible, taking account of the quarterly cycle of bids for costs related to external meetings and other necessary approvals.

3. When planning an external meeting, a committee should ensure full liaison with all the required support services. In selecting a date and time for an external meeting, a committee must have regard to the impact on the support services and, in particular, the impact on their ability to provide facilities for other committee meetings.

4. As far as possible external meetings should be held entirely in public.

5. Committees recognise the importance of being seen to be involving people throughout Scotland and (without prejudice to the general principle that they will meet in locations to consider matters of local interest) will seek to achieve an appropriate geographic spread when undertaking fact-finding visits or case studies.

6. Committees also recognise the need to engage with communities that are disadvantaged - socially, economically or by location - and will take this into account in planning meetings or visits outwith Edinburgh.

7. Committees will seek to be cost-effective in undertaking their external meetings, but this should not be at the expense of proper preparation to ensure successful meetings.

8. Committees also recognise that meetings in more remote areas are likely to be more costly. They will not exclude consideration of these opportunities solely on the grounds of expense, but will make a judgement on the relative costs and benefits.

9. Committees will seek to meet in public venues in general, but will not exclude the possibility of meeting on private premises, provided that no appearance of partiality is given by so doing.

10. In general committees will seek to meet their own costs through Parliamentary budgets, and not accept hospitality or free services where these might appear to undermine its impartiality. They will be transparent in all their arrangements.

11 All venues for external public meetings of the committees must meet the Parliament's criteria for access for the public, including those with disabilities. The Committees will seek to utilise venues that maximise access for the public.

12 Committees will seek to encourage public attendance at their external meetings through pre-publicity, interviews etc. Committees will liaise with the media relations office, and notify it one month in advance of meetings. They will also seek to work where possible with schools etc to encourage attendance and understanding of their activities.