The inaugural Parliament Day takes place in Hawick on Monday 5 November with an action-packed day of visits by the Presiding Officer to local organisations, school visits by MSPs and a workshop and formal meeting of the Finance Committee.
Speaking ahead of the visit, the Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP said:
“Hawick is a great place for us to begin our Parliament Day initiative. The Heart of Hawick will provide a stunning venue for many of our events and I hope the activities we have planned will encourage the people of Hawick to get involved and find out more about the work of the Parliament.
“Parliament Day lets local people experience for themselves ‘a snapshot’ of the Parliament’s work and activities. It lets people meet and question MSPs who make the laws and debate the issues that affect them.”
Finance Committee Convener Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“We are delighted to be part of the first ever Parliament Day. We believe it is important to involve the school pupils and people of Hawick in our scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s draft budget. That is why the Finance Committee is involved in everything from the educational activities on a mock budget, the Q&A session with school pupils and of course, the 21 local organisations taking part in our workshops which will generate questions to be put directly to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth.”
Hawick High School pupils will assume a pivotal role in welcoming the Parliament to town with a catwalk show on Sunday 4 November when they will present their ‘Creative Fashion – Girls of Ambition’ course at the Heart of Hawick reception. The school pupils will also take part in a mock budget activity organised by the Parliament’s Education Outreach Team and staff from the Finance Committee on the Scottish Government’s budget process, alongside pupils from Earlston High School and Kelso High School on Friday 2 November.
Parliament Day Activities
Among the organisations the Presiding Officer will visit on Monday 5 November is the community arts initiative Art Beat Studios and the Borders-wide charity Home Basics which helps new social-housing tenants set up home by providing recycled furniture and home-starter packs. The Presiding Officer will also drop in to meet members of the Hawick Senior Citizens Association.
The Parliament’s Education Outreach Team will join Finance Committee staff on Friday 2 November to work with pupils from Hawick High School, Kelso High School and Earlston High School on activities relating to the draft Scottish Government budget.
In a mock budget activity, the pupils will decide how much money to spend on areas such as health, education and justice and gain an understanding of the scrutiny process the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee undertakes. The pupils will also prepare questions in advance of the informal Q&A session when they meet the Finance Committee on Monday 5 November. The event will be followed up on Monday 12 November when pupils travel to the Scottish Parliament to take part in a special debate based on their budget decisions and to be given a tour of Holyrood.
On Monday 5 November, local MSPs will visit five primary schools to be interviewed by pupils about the work of the Parliament and the MSPs’ role in representing their constituents. Each class aims to publish a special front page of a Parliament Day newspaper.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP will visit Stirches Primary school; Chic Brodie MSP will visit Burnfoot Primary school; Jim Hume MSP will visit Wilton Primary school and Joan McAlpine MSP will visit both Trinity Primary school and Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary school.
The Finance Committee is responsible for scrutinising public spending and examining the Scottish Government’s £34 billion draft budget for 2013-14.
The Finance Committee is made up of seven MSPs from across the political parties with Kenneth Gibson MSP as Convener plus John Mason as Deputy Convener, Jamie Hepburn MSP, Elaine Murray MSP, Gavin Brown MSP, Jean Urquhart MSP and Michael McMahon MSP.
Scrutiny of public spending means that the Committee looks carefully at how the Scottish Government proposes to spend its money and the results that spending is meant to achieve.
As part of the scrutiny process the Committee believes it is vital to hear from local groups and organisations. This is why Hawick Knitwear, The Bridge and Kelso Graphics are among the 21 local organisations taking part in the private morning workshops with committee members to be held at The Heart of Hawick.
The issues raised by the people of Hawick at the workshops can then be put directly to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, when he gives evidence to the Finance Committee at 2pm on Monday 5 November.