Passholder Entrances (Delays)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 21 March 2019.

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Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

3. To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, following the installation of new security devices at passholder entrances, what action it is taking to address queues forming and delays to entry. (S5O-03046)

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

The question is of interest to a number of people. We are all aware that, during busy periods—mainly between 8.30 and 9.30 on business days—queues have been forming, particularly outside the Queensberry house entrance. Three reasons are driving the delays. The Parliament has experienced a software issue that has resulted in the entry system occasionally resetting, which has caused a delay; engineers are on site this week to implement an agreed fix.

The other causes are the volume of people who arrive during peak times and the fact that some passholders have not yet perfected their technique, so they present their pass and finger too quickly to the reader, which means that the pass has to be presented again.

To address those issues, we will remind all pass users that, alongside the single entry turnstile at Queensberry house, there are two turnstiles at the Canongate entrance, which offer direct access to the garden lobby, as we all know.

We have security staff on site to offer support, and we encourage anyone who is having issues with accessing the Parliament to schedule a follow-up appointment with the pass studio.

We are also discussing with the manufacturer of the turnstiles the possibility of changing the exit turnstile at Queensberry house, where there is both an entrance and an exit turnstile, to a bi-directional turnstile, allowing it to be used to alleviate queues during peak times.

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

All that fancy language means that we are still establishing the technical fix and the costs and timescales of the initiative.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That will be one of those succinct answers, then.


.] I call Patrick Harvie.

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

I am resisting the ample opportunity for innuendo here. [



Look—I might be prejudiced and biased on this issue, because when I am expected to have my fingerprints taken and to present biometrics to go into my place of work, my natural instinct is to feel that it is something of a dystopian nightmare. However, this system is more “Brazil” than “1984”; it does not work, and it takes ages. I am all in favour of technology that makes things easier, but this technology makes getting into and out of the building worse, more difficult and more time consuming. If it does not work, can we just rip it out?

Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

I hear what Patrick Harvie has said about the difficulties that have been experienced in facilitating the new system, but he will know that the problem with the old one-factor authentication system was that many people were, quite inappropriately, handing their passes back to others who did not have a pass to allow them into the building. It is obvious, when one thinks it through, that that presented serious security risks.

Two-factor authentication is designed to make access to the building more secure. The biometrics are contained exclusively within the card and are not held anywhere else, so Mr Harvie need not be concerned that there will be any breach of personal data. It might well take some time for us to perfect the system and ensure that it works efficiently, but it is there to ensure that all the public access points into the building are as secure as they have to be so that we can all operate safely in the building at all times.