It is important that the tasks with which the Committee has been entrusted have from the very beginning included methods of futures research. This will continue to be the foundation of high-quality futures work. In particular, at the beginning of each parliamentary term the new Committee must be given training to familiarize it with good work methods.
Deliberation of so-called own matters in a plenary session, as a topical debate on the basis of reports, is problematic, but so far the only way. A right to draft a report concerning own matters, along the lines of the model that applies to the Audit Committee, would strengthen deliberation as a normal plenary session matter. Another method that has been proposed is one in which the Committee would present joint long-term parliamentary initiatives, but this would blur the significance of both the Committee and the initiative institution.
The Prime Minister as the corresponding minister is the most appropriate choice. In accordance with the idea on which the Committee is founded, the broad scope of its tasks and a high level of Government-Parliament dialogue, the cabinet member with foremost responsibility must ultimately be the Prime Minister. Moreover the Prime Minister also chairs the Research and Innovation Council which facilitates again a broad dialogue.
Once during its term of office, the Government issues a report on long-term future prospects and the Government’s targets. In accordance with the political system, it is the Prime Minister who chooses the theme. In order to promote regional debate, regional Future Forums are organised jointly by the Prime Minister’s Office and Parliament on the subject matters of the report.
It would now appear to be the time for broad handling that covers a wide spectrum of sectors, for horizontal processing rather than special themes the Committee should once in a parliamentary term conduct a general exploration of the state of Finland and the related scenarios and/or futures map.
The Committee’s intention during this parliamentary term is to create a pool of professor-level experts both from the Finland Futures Research Centre (which is an auxiliary unit of the Turku University) and other universities too. This university network is destined to provide assistance in conducting studies, and also to strengthen ties to the world of science
An increasing number of Regional Meetings have been arranged both with the Committee on its own and together with the corresponding ministry, i.e. the Prime Minister’s Office. It participated successfully for four weeks in an open popular discourse on an education theme on the Internet. Systematic hearings to elicit the views of citizens would be important, but require a lot of resources. The Committee will support and participate if the Parliament makes a policy decision to hear the views of citizens on, for example, important major legislative projects. Modern media is used as much as possible. This development is intended to be continued. It will be possible to arrange new kinds of citizen involvement.
The Committee for the Future is not one of the most desired committees after a general election, but it has proved itself to be a good vantage point from which to follow changes in the world. A considerable proportion of ministers have been members of the Committee. In the period 2003–2007 the Committee’s chair, Representative Katainen, was elected as the leader of the biggest opposition party, the National Coalition, and became Minister of Finance after the election. The Committee’s report »A Caring, Encouraging and Creative Finland«, which appraised the information society, was incorporated, almost complete with name, into the Programme for Government. After the spring 2011 general election, Mr Katainen took the prime ministership. There are many other ex-Future-MPs in the new Government, even two other party leaders: Minister of Finance and chair of Social Democratic Party, Mrs Urpilainen, being one of the most important ones and Minister of Interior, chair of Christian Party, Mrs Päivi Räsänen.
Chapter Work Procedures and Methods - all countries
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