Staff Reporter
THE Speakers of the Regional Assembly of Castilla y León, José Manuel Fernández Santiago, and of the Balearic Parliament, Pere Rotger, agreed yesterday on calling for the regional governments to be given a voice in the future reform of the country's Senate.

Fernández Santiago and Rotger met yesterday in the headquarters of Castilla y León's Regional Assembly, to talk over various projects that both Parliaments have in common, especially all those aimed at bringing regional government closer to its people and the future setting up of a computer system where Parliamentary members can register their votes with electronic security.

Both Speakers referred to the support they were willing to give to the proposals, made by the Canary Islands at the last meeting of regional Parliaments in Valencia. Principally, the projects aim to give weight to the contribution of regional governments, as much in international forums as in the expected reform of the national Senate.

Rotger specified that it is not a question of planning “any confrontation with other Administrations”, nor does it aim to secure “direct representation”, added Fernández Santiago; but rather of studying a means by which regional Parliaments could contribute more incisively to central government decisions.

The Speakers looked at progress that had been made in plans to install telematic registration and electronic signatures in the regional Parliaments. The Balearic government has now taken this modernisation, already up and running in central government, to an advanced stage, with the objective of having everything set up at the end of 2004 to be ready for implementation in 2005.

The programme will be referred to the Regional Assembly of Castilla y León which already has at its disposal the technical infrastructure necessary for incorporating this advance. The system will mean that Parliament members can register their assent or dissent with the Speaker without having to involve time-consuming paperwork, their signatures being secured electronically. The scheme will also permit inclusion of points of view from around the region.

It will mean “a real revolution” in the functioning of Parliaments which in the case of the Balearics will help remove any disadvantage it might have in terms of not being on the mainland, and in the case of Castilla y León, any disadvantage that it might previously have suffered due to the extent of its territory.

At the meeting, the Speakers further touched on different proposals to bring Parliamentary culture closer to ordinary people, especially the young. They looked at a pilot scheme which the Balearics is currently developing through a weekly television programme. The aim is to transmit government meetings attended by college students from the Islands who then pass on their conclusions to their peer groups.

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