Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office

Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office logo

The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) works to build good relations between Scottish Churches, the Scottish and UK Parliaments and the Scottish and UK Governments.

We are an ecumenical partnership which aims to reflect the essential characteristic of the Churches' common life and work together, as well as being a more effective way to relate to decision-makers collaboratively.

Our work underlines:

  • The Churches' commitment to the common good
  • The role of churches and congregations in communities
  • The Churches' multiple roles, as a prophetic voice, as a candid friend, and as a promoter of respectful dialogue and informed debate on national political issues
  • And provides prayer and pastoral support for Parliamentarians

Our activity includes:

  • Convening a Monthly Holyrood Meeting to consider current Scottish Parliament business
  • Participating in the Radar meeting of UK Church Parliamentary Officers, which considers Westminster business along with issues in the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, and the Scottish Churches Committee
  • Producing briefing papers and information about current issues and Parliamentary agendas, including the Monthly Matrix which details the progress of legislation and any current consultations or inquiries
  • Hosting roundtable discussions for SPCO partners to explore together issues in more depth

Our principles

We work through principles of relationship, representation, and communication:

Relationship

Bagpiper with Scottish Parliament building in the background

The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office exists to create space for ecumenical fellowship and encounter for Parliamentary and Political affairs in Scotland. It does this by:

  • Offering support to Church leaders in meetings with politicians and senior civil servants
  • Building and sustaining relationships with political and parliamentary figures and civil servants
  • Arranging opportunities for meeting and exchanging ideas
  • Communicating and keeping partners and stakeholders up-to-date with news on political issues of interest

Representation

The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office exists to facilitate and enable Scottish Churches to speak on legislation and political developments. It does this by:

  • Listening and responding to the views of the SCPO partners and network
  • Commissioning research, preparing briefings and offering analysis
  • Convening meetings of interested parties and sharing ideas

Communication

The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office exists to share news of parliamentary and political developments in a timely manner to the right people in the Churches.

How we're organised

The Church of Scotland appoints a staff member with responsibility for parliamentary and political affairs. This person will hold the designation of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer.

This person will be responsible for ensuring the delivery of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office Outcomes and Activities. They also maintain the longstanding legacy of having a single person who can act as a public face and first point of contact for ecumenical parliamentary engagement.

Scottish Churches who employ staff with remits for parliamentary engagement are invited to work in close partnership with the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office.

The SCPO is supported by a Co-ordination Group, which consists of a representative from each of the Churches who employ staff working on Parliamentary issues in Scotland (currently the Catholic Church, Quakers in Scotland, Salvation Army Scotland Office and the Church of Scotland) or who contribute more than £500 per year to the Church of Scotland for the work of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (additional members: Methodist Church, United Reformed Church, United Free Church, Baptist Union, Scottish Episcopal Church).

Our people

David Bradwell

David Bradwell works for the Church of Scotland and is responsible for parliamentary and political affairs. As part of this work he has the role of Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer and is responsible for ensuring the delivery of SCPO outcomes and activities. He is the main contact for Churches seeking to do political work, and for politicians, civil servants and researchers wanting to find out more about the work and views of the Churches.

Clare Flenley

Clare is a Research Officer with the Church of Scotland, job sharing with Robyn.

Clare prepares policy briefings and supports Church of Scotland staff and congregations to engage in policy discussions with elected representatives and other stakeholders. She also contributes to internal policy initiatives.

Robyn Knight

Robyn is a Research Officer for the Church of Scotland and works alongside Clare Flenley in a job share.

Robyn has supported the work of SCPO since 2019. She regularly monitors the parliamentary activity at Holyrood and Westminster and produces briefing papers on relevant issues.

David Cavanagh

Major David Cavanagh is an officer of The Salvation Army, and currently appointed as the Assistant Secretary for Scotland, taking day-to-day responsibility for The Salvation Army’s political engagement and national ecumenical affairs in Scotland.

Anthony Horan

Anthony is Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office.

His primary role is to engage with politics on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, including monitoring and examining the work of both the Scottish and UK Parliaments and Scottish and UK Governments.

Through his work Anthony regularly engages with elected representatives, government officials, ecumenical partners and other faith groups and stakeholders with shared interests.

Andrew Tomlinson

Andrew Tomlinson is employed by Quakers in Britain to engage with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and a range of Scottish political and public audiences in order to bring about change.

Our story

The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) was set up in 1999 as a response to the decision to re-establish the Scottish Parliament. Its vision was to build a fruitful relationship between the Churches in Scotland and the new Parliament, and to help them relate and respond effectively in the political process.

Prior to devolution in 1999, Churches in Scotland played an important role in the discussions around constitutional reform. When the Scotland Act 1998 declared, "There shall be a Scottish Parliament," it marked the beginning of a new era in Scottish politics and the Churches wanted to continue their commitment to the common good in the public square.

When the new Scottish Parliament met in 1999 until 2004, its meetings took place at the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland on the Mound in Edinburgh.

Today we maintain a broad overview of Parliamentary developments at Holyrood as well as at Wesminster on subjects of interest and concern to Scottish Churches.

In partnership with other faith communities, the SCPO helped to establish "Time for Reflection" – the weekly Parliamentary slot in which representatives of Scotland's religion and belief communities offer a reflective "Thought for the Day". Graham Blount, our first Parliamentary Officer, gave the very first "Time for Reflection" in October 1999.

Our Partners

The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) is an ecumenical partnership between the Churches in Scotland and is organised by the Church of Scotland. The Scottish Churches and Christian organisations that pray, meet, discuss and work together on parliamentary and political issues are:

SCPO briefings

Scottish Parliament Building exterior

We are asked by our partners to research and prepare policy briefing papers, usually designed to inform church decision-making bodies about new topics to help them come to a position.

Our briefings aim to be factual and impartial; any opinions which they contain are designed to share ideas and to facilitate understanding. They do not represent any ‘official' view of the Scottish Churches or of the SCPO.

Contact Us

Email: David Bradwell, Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer, dbradwell@churchofscotland.org.uk

Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YN

Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office is administered by the Church of Scotland, Scottish Charity Number SC011353