Data

General Issues
Health
Governance & Political Institutions
Collections
Citizens Voices & Values on Covid-19
Location
Scotland
United Kingdom
Scope of Influence
Regional
Files
Scottish Parliament Citizens' Panel on COVID-19
Links
Covid-19: Citizens' Panel
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Spectrum of Public Participation
Consult
Total Number of Participants
19
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Limited to Only Some Groups or Individuals
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
Stratified Random Sample
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Recruit or select participants
Propose and/or develop policies, ideas, and recommendations
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Citizens' Jury
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Online
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Information & Learning Resources
Expert Presentations
Video Presentations
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
General Agreement/Consensus
If Voting
Unanimous Decision
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Public Hearings/Meetings
New Media
Type of Organizer/Manager
Regional Government
Type of Funder
Regional Government
Staff
Yes
Volunteers
No

CASE

Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19

15 avril 2021 Antonin Lacelle-Webster
General Issues
Health
Governance & Political Institutions
Collections
Citizens Voices & Values on Covid-19
Location
Scotland
United Kingdom
Scope of Influence
Regional
Files
Scottish Parliament Citizens' Panel on COVID-19
Links
Covid-19: Citizens' Panel
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Spectrum of Public Participation
Consult
Total Number of Participants
19
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Limited to Only Some Groups or Individuals
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
Stratified Random Sample
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Recruit or select participants
Propose and/or develop policies, ideas, and recommendations
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Citizens' Jury
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Online
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Information & Learning Resources
Expert Presentations
Video Presentations
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
General Agreement/Consensus
If Voting
Unanimous Decision
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Public Hearings/Meetings
New Media
Type of Organizer/Manager
Regional Government
Type of Funder
Regional Government
Staff
Yes
Volunteers
No

The COVID-19 Committee of the Scottish Parliament convened a citizens’ panel to inform its oversight on the measures put in place by the Government. The panel was comprised of 19 citizens randomly selected and organized virtually over four meetings in January and February 2021.

Problems and Purpose

The pandemic has forced the implementation of health measures that are impacting the everyday life of all people. Due to the nature of the crisis, these measures are being made under emergency powers in Scotland. As a result, they are often implemented without consultation and with a limited timeframe for parliamentary oversight. [1] To mitigate this issue, the Scottish Parliament’s COVID-19 Committee decided to convene a citizens’ panel to ensure that its oversight is informed by the lived experiences of people in Scotland. The purpose of the panel was to address the following question: “What priorities should shape the Scottish Government’s approach to COVID-19 restrictions and strategy in 2021?”

Background History and Context

In 2019, following the recommendations from the Commission on Parliamentary Reform, the Scottish Parliament’s Committee Engagement Unit had been trialling the in-house organization of minipublics. [2] Since 2020, the use of deliberative minipublics in Scotland and the United Kingdom has become more common, as shown by high-profile examples such as the citizens’ assembly on the future of Scotland, the Scottish Climate Assembly, and the Climate Assembly UK. The Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19 was the first minipublic delivered online by the Scottish Parliament. [3] 

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

The panel was convened by the COVID-19 Committee of the Scottish Parliament and organized in-house at the Scottish Parliament. A steering group was appointed to approve the overarching question, the design of the sessions, and the choice of topics and expert witnesses. [4] The Scottish Parliament’s Committee Engagement Unit worked with the not-for-profit Sortition Foundation to proceed to recruit a representative panel of citizens.

Participant Recruitment and Selection

A group of 20 citizens was randomly selected based on the 2011 Scottish Census data. The sample was stratified to create a representative panel based on the following categories: gender, age, region, ethnicity, and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), an index used to identify the areas where people are experiencing disadvantages in various facets of their lives. [5] Among the 20 participants selected, two were no longer available to participate due to personal reasons. One new participant was selected and joined the citizens’ panel for the second session. 

Methods and Tools Used

Following the structure of a citizens’ jury, the Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19 involved different dimensions: team building, a learning phase, questioning witnesses, deliberation, and consensus-based decision-making. A team of 10 facilitators from the Scottish Parliament facilitated the online process. Various techniques were used to ensure the participation of all participants, including deliberation in small groups via virtual breakout room and plenary sessions. An online platform was provided to allow participants to reflect on the information between the sessions, pose questions, and identify issues that needed to be further explored. [6] During the sessions, virtual whiteboards were used to capture the information raised by the participants and the emerging issues and prioritize questions and topics. [7] 

What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

The citizens’ panel met virtually for four meetings. The structure of the process was as follows:

First Meeting: January 16th, 2021

The first meeting covered a broad range of topics going from an introduction to the parliamentary scrutiny process; how the panel could contribute to the work of the Scottish Parliament’s COVID-19 Committee; the types of inquiries on COVID-19 undertaken by Parliament, public health policymaking, and the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework (the four harms – direct health impacts, indirect health impacts, societal impacts, and economic impacts). The participants also had the opportunity to hear from an expert on how to assess evidence and critical thinking. Beyond this learning component, they were invited to develop conversation guidelines, share and discuss their experience of the pandemic, and to begin reflecting in small groups on potential recommendations to be explored further, based on the discrepancy they see between their experience and the measures in place. [8] 

Second Meeting: January 23rd, 2021 

The second meeting focused more heavily on the consequences of COVID-19 in Scotland and the government’s response. The panel heard from experts on the virus transmission, the health measures put in place, the vaccine roll-out, and risk assessment in political decision-making. For the last portion of the meeting, participants took part in a session facilitated in a World Café format in which they were able to discuss in small groups with experts about the impacts of restrictions on different sectors. [9]

Third Meeting: January 30th, 2021

The third meeting began with participants learning about the different strategies used to respond to the pandemic and with small-group discussions of the potential implementation of these strategies. This discussion led to a vote on which strategies would be best for Scotland. Next, using the World Café format, the participants talked with experts on the policy levers that could be used in response to the crisis. They were then asked to reflect on the four harms framework and its value in assessing the strategies and the policy levers before having to rate, through a vote, the importance they gave to each harm. Although these two votes were not related to the panel’s final set of recommendations, they provided an opportunity for the participants to consider diverse strategies and assess the value of the four harms framework. Finally, the participants identified stakeholders with whom they would like to speak to about their draft recommendations at the next meeting. [10]

Fourth Meeting: February 6th, 2021

For this last meeting, participants began by discussing any ongoing questions or issues before starting deliberations on the draft recommendations. For this next step, participants were asked to identify and rate the recommendations on the online platform written after the last meeting. The recommendations were grouped into four themes 1) Strategy, four harms, and intergovernmental collaboration; 2) Public health restrictions and communication; 3) Vaccine, health and wellbeing, and education; 4) Economy, travel, and green recovery. Each theme was then assigned to one small group to discuss and refine the recommendations before reporting back to the whole group. In a World Café format, participants then spoke about their recommendations in small groups with the stakeholders who were identified in the previous meeting, using their discussion to further refine the recommendations. This was followed by additional discussion in a plenary discussion, where the full group came to agreement on a final set of recommendations. [11] 

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The COVID-19 Committee of the Scottish Parliament received the report and took evidence from five participants during a session on February 18th, 2021. [12] 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

See Also

References

[1] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 1.

[2] The Scottish Parliament, Deliberative Engagement at the Scottish Parliament, November 2019, 3.

[3] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 7.

[4] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 3.

[5] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 3-6.

[6] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 7.

[7] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 8.

[8] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 9-10.

[9] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 11-12.

[10] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 13-15.

[11] The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19, February 2021, SP Paper 938, 15-17.

[12] The Scottish Parliament, Official Report, COVID-19 Committee 18 February 2021, https://archive2021.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=13140

External Links

The Scottish Parliament, COVID-19: Citizens’ Panel, https://archive2021.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/currentcommittees/116947.aspx

Notes