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Today's passing of the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill will be a welcome step towards achieving the Government's commitment to deliver improvements in a public sector landscape that has, over decades, become cluttered and complicated. An overlapping and duplicating network of public sector bodies causes unnecessary difficulties for members of the public and for the voluntary and private sector groups that have to work with those bodies.
The Finance Committee had interesting discussions on the bill, with contributions from throughout the relevant sectors. There was agreement that it is time for public sector reform. I hope that we can now streamline decision making and improve transparency in the network of Scottish public bodies, as well as reduce bureaucratic complexity for the private and voluntary sectors and individual citizens.
It is interesting that the Finance Committee is moving on to consider public sector reform more widely. I am pleased that we are doing so in conjunction with Scotland's Futures Forum, because it is time for radical thinking about the future of the public sector and the services that it provides. I urge all members to watch what happens as that inquiry unfolds under the convenership of Andrew Welsh.
I will close by quoting again something that I quoted in the stage 1 debate, which is a letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth to the Finance Committee. It states:
"Parliament must be able to respond more quickly to changing circumstances and take advantage of opportunities to further streamline the public bodies landscape and improve the delivery of public services".
Today, we have established a foundation for that on which we can build.