The “exemplary role played by the Scottish Parliament” in engaging with the public will be the focus of a visit to Holyrood by a cross-party delegation of Flemish politicians today (Thursday).
The delegation of ten politicians, which includes the speaker of the Flemish Parliament, Mrs Marleen Vanderpoorten, is taking part in a benchmarking project to investigate the relationship between Parliament and Society in the 21st Century.
They will meet a variety of MSPs and Parliament officials to discuss the initiatives taken at Holyrood to encourage public engagement, which was described by the Benchmarking Project Working Group as “exemplary”.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Presiding Officer George Reid MSP, said:
"It is with great pleasure that we will welcome the Flemish visitors to Scotland to learn more about how the Scottish Parliamentary system operates.
"Ensuring that Holyrood truly became a Parliament for the people was the guiding principle to our work. It is a mark of our success that the Flemish Parliament holds our work in such high regard and that they hope to use us as a model of best practice to develop the Flemish Parliament’s public engagement process.”
The delegates will look at the Parliament’s public engagement policy, the work of Visitor Services, the award winning Festival of Politics and the Public Petitions system. They will also observe both First Minister’s Questions and Decision time, and meet the Presiding Officer, George Reid MSP.
Photographs will be available by contacting the parliament’s photographers on 0131 348 6269.
The delegates are:
Mrs. Marleen Vanderpoorten MP, Speaker of the Flemish Parliament (Head of Delegation)
Mr. Carl Decaluwe MP (Christian-Democrat Party) (2 nd Deputy Speaker of the Flemish Parliament and Chairman of the Benchmarking Working Group)
Mr. Sven Gatz MP (Flemish Liberal Party)
Mr. Joris Vandenbroucke MP (Socialist Party/Left Flemish Nationalists)
Mr. Jef Tavernier MP (Green Party)
Mrs. Martine Goossens, Secretary-General (Clerk) of the Flemish Parliament
Mrs. Annemie Nys, Head of Cabinet of the Speaker’s Office
Mr. Marc Le Bruyn, Committee Clerk and Benchmarking Project Supervisor
Mr. Nic Vandermarliere, Representative of the Flemish Government to the UK
Mrs. Ishbel McFarlane, Trade Commissioner, Flanders Investment & Trade.
The Flemish Community and the Flemish Region are separate federal units of the Kingdom of Belgium.
In practice both now have a single parliament and government and almost all of the institutions of the Region were subsumed into the Community in 2005. This has resulted in a unified Flemish authority under the jurisdiction of the Flemish Parliament and government. Each unit has its own defined responsibility for culture, language, social and family affairs, education and health care.
The Flemish Region consists of the provinces of West Flanders, East Flanders, Antwerp, Limburg and Flemish Brabant. The Flemish Region has jurisdiction over areas such as employment and energy policy, planning and nature conservation, environmental and water policy and scientific research.