Clerks in the Parliament come from a variety of backgrounds. I joined the Scottish Parliament in 1999 straight from university. This was the year of the first elections to the new Scottish Parliament and I was among the first group of staff to join, just ahead of the first MSPs. I have worked for several committees in the Parliament. It has been fascinating to watch the Parliament develop as an institution, as its members have grown in confidence and gained experience.
Clerks are required to work impartially and have a facilitating role in the work of the committee. We brief, advise and support the Convener, who chairs the committee, and committee members on matters relating to the management of Parliamentary business. As the committee contains MSPs from a number of different political parties, it is important that Clerks act in a neutral and even-handed manner.
The Committee has also ventured out to meet people informally when carrying out inquiries, which Clerks will also organise. The Committee visited Stranraer and Glasgow, for example, to meet with local people concerned about the quality of their bus services. As part of our work on the rail industry, the Committee visited the Forth Rail Bridge and committee members were allowed to walk along a gantry on the very top of the bridge. I declined this opportunity.
One of the interesting aspects of working for a Parliamentary Committee has been the variety of people I have meet, ranging from pub owners lobbying on new licensing laws to road hauliers concerned about the future of their industry.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own personal opinions and may not reflect those of Shepherd+ Wedderburn.