(49)  Procedure in the Scottish Parliament

The all-party Consultative Steering Group for the Scottish Parliament published its report on 15 January 1999. It recommends that the Parliament should sit for 30-33 weeks per year, with Mondays free for constituency work. The daily working hours will be 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. MSPs will address each other by name and generally in English, although Gaelic speeches will be permitted. An electronic voting system will be used, and constituents will be able to contact MSPs by email. The chamber will be horseshoe-shaped in order to create a less confrontational atmosphere than prevails in Westminster. The Parliament will have its first official sitting a week after the election on 6 May 1999, and will be officially opened by the Queen on 1 July 1999, at which point full legislative powers will come into operation. (17 January 1999)