As the part of the Scottish Parliament’s Academic Fellowship scheme, Dr Chris Gill (School of Law, University of Glasgow) is launching a research project exploring how MSPs help their constituents through their casework activities.
Helping constituents to resolve their problems and grievances has traditionally been seen as an important part of the democratic mission of parliamentarians. However, very little is known about what kind of issues arise in casework, how those issues are dealt with, and how MSPs contribute to the broader systems through which citizens seek help, advice, and redress for their problems.
This research project seeks to shed light on this important constitutional function and bring about a better understanding of the nature and value of constituency casework.
What the project involves
Initially, the project will involve conducting short interviews with up to 12 MSPs and up to 12 members of constituency staff involved in casework. Through the interviews, the project seeks to understand:
· How the casework role is perceived and understood by MSPs and their staff?
· How much time do MSPs and their staff spend on casework?
· What do people contact MSPs about?
· What happens to cases that are submitted to MSPs?
· What are the outcomes of cases submitted to MSPs?
· How do MSPs and their offices organise themselves to deal with cases?
· How do MSPs use the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) to support their casework?
The project will also involve working with SPICe to collect information about the support researchers provide to constituency casework.
What the project hopes to achieve
The project has been developed in consultation with SPICe and aims to provide data that will be of benefit to parliamentarians and citizens. The project will result in the production of a short written report and a presentation to Scottish Parliament staff.
A major aim of the project is to help parliamentarians, the public, academics, and the media to get a better understanding of the contemporary role of MSPs.
The project also aims to have some practice benefits, for example, helping SPICe to understand better the kinds of support MSPs need. It is hoped that MSPs will benefit, by identifying examples of good practice and raising awareness of work in this area.
The project is now looking for expression of interest from MSPs who would like to take part in the research. It is expected that interviews will take place in January and February 2019. For more information about the project and what taking part will involve, please contact Chris Gill at email@example.com or on 0141 330 4174.