We arrived at 11.00am, and after a security check and receiving our passes we were then greeted by our local MSP, Kenneth Gibson, who led us to the main chamber. We did not have a lot of time in here as Parliament was due to start from 11.20, but Kenny gave us a quick overview of the working week at Holyrood, and explained the work of our MSPs, the process by which parliamentary legislation was drawn up and enacted, and more. We were given a copy of the day's Business Bulletin, which is drawn up each day to outline the questions to be asked of ministers, and the various debates and committee meetings in the building, and obviously took a few photos! After a quick look at one of the committee rooms, where Kenny discussed how much of the real work of the parliament was carried out, we then bid him a temporary farewell as we made our way to the visitors gallery, and he to the chamber.
With the session over we then caught up with Kenny again and made our way around the building to see various areas, including the main lobby area, the back room areas where the parties are based (they each have different floors), and areas such as the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICE). It was slightly surreal to see folk like Annabel Goldie and other MSPs walking past, it is an extraordinarily open and democratic building. In fact, one of the things that Kenny mentioned was that it is very much a people's parliament, so much so that anybody in Scotland can book the function areas - after all, we paid for it! We then relocated to the member's restaurant, and had an enjoyable lunch, where we discussed much of what we had experienced with Kenny as our MSP.
A great day, great company, and a great democratic institution to be proud of!
(With thanks to Davina McTiernan, Kenneth Gibson MSP, and the First Minister)