Pentland looks forward to new role at Scottish Parliament

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IR20150108. 08/01/15. TSPL Shift,. 'Flags fly at half mast today outside the Scottish parliament as a mark of respect to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris yesterday. 'Picture Ian Rutherford'''�Ian Rutherford 'ianrutherfordphotography@gmail.com'www.ianrutherfordphotography.com'07710337520
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Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland is to take over as convener of the Scottish Parliament’s petitions committee.

Mr Pentland, who is leaving the parliament’s justice committee to assume his new responsibilities, said he was looking forward to his new post with great enthusiasm.

He said: “One of the great things about the Scottish Parliament is how open it is to members of the public, not just as visitors but as participants.

“There are a number of ways that people can get involved, including through cross party groups, public events, and being called to give evidence at committees; but probably the most powerful route is through the parliament’s petition system, where people can make their views known, call for action, and seek the support of others.

“The parliament gives guidance and support on submitting petitions – for example, they have to be about issues rather than individual cases, and should be matters where the parliament has power to act.

“But every petition that meets these criteria is given individual attention, with many petitioners coming to the committee to speak about their concerns.

“The Petitions Committee has the power to make sure that issues raised by petitioners are given attention, whether by the Scottish Government, public bodies, other committees, or by the Petitions Committee itself, which has the power to hold enquiries into issues raised in petitions.

“I stood as an MSP because I wanted to take up issues raised by the public, to help them to get a fair hearing and to ensure their issues are addressed.

“The Petitions Committee is a great opportunity to do just that, so I am looking forward to my new role with great enthusiasm.”

His now role however does mean that Mr Pentland will no longer be involved with the parliament’s Justice Committee.

During his time on the committee it dealt with many high profile issues such as the creation of Police Scotland, support for victims and witnesses of crime, court closures, the attempt to remove the need for corroboration, the arming of police, the huge cuts to civilian police staffing, and the closures of police stations and police and fire control rooms.

He said: “I think the work of the Justice Committee is crucial, scrutinising and challenging the whims of the Justice Secretary, who for most of my time on the committee was the very controversial Kenny MacAskill.

“Interestingly, he is now a member of the Petitions Committee, but I’m hoping that in keeping with the traditions of the committee, we will have a more consensual working relationship than we did within the Justice remit!”