A review by the Hansard Society has pointed out that Westminster may be ignoring lessons from Edinburgh and Cardiff as it implements a new ePetitions system.
The report, Digital Paper, Digital Democracy in Scotland and Wales: Lagging or Leading?, looked at aspects of the websites of the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.
"Whilst a lot of research on digital democracy in the UK focuses on the goings on around the Westminster Parliament and central government in Whitehall, in some cases Scotland and Wales are ahead of the pack."
It said ePetitions have perhaps been "the most constructive digital tool in both the Scottish and Welsh legislatures".
In contrast, the government's proposals for ePetitions in Westminster would focus attention only on those with large numbers of signatures.
The proposal is that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures will be eligible for debate in Parliament, and the petition with the most signatures can be introduced as legislation.
"The ePetitioning processes in both Scotland and Wales are well designed and have a clear, open set of procedures in place for dealing with each petition submitted. This is in contrast with the recently closed Number 10 petitioning site where there was no obligation to take any notice of anything submitted.
"The most important thing for both the Scottish and Welsh ePetitioning processes is that they focus on the merits of each individual petition as opposed to just petitions based on the number of signatures collected.
"This allows petitions with a few hundred or a few thousand signatures, which might have important and serious consequences for those involved to be given a fair level of consideration."
This is a conclusion I totally agree with, and have written about these issues previously.
But ePetitions are something of a highlight on the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly websites because neither "seems to offer much more than information on how their respective legislatures work, current business and records of bills and proceedings".
The Welsh Assembly has opened up some public consultations to comments through online forums but "there is no precedent or formal procedure for constructive action to be taken".
"These forums have very few posts which is to be expected as people are more likely to have discussions about issues that are important to them in online spaces that they already frequent (such as Facebook or Twitter)."
Interestingly, the National Assembly also provides online multimedia packages of news and information for the media which are used largely by regional or hyperlocal media.
"Setting itself up to be the most reliable and convenient source, perhaps even the primary definer of regional Welsh news, the Assembly is able to positively communicate to the public what it does in a context relevant to them."
And the Scottish government website has plans in place "to introduce greater levels of dialogue between representatives and the public".
"The Digital Engagement Team is tasked with creating a social media strategy for the Scottish government and developing digital engagement projects in future. The first two outputs from the team are Engage for Education and Housing Policy Discussion."
More to do
The review concludes that, as in London, "digital democracy in both Scotland and Wales is far from perfect".
"It is clear that more work needs to be done to bring about more two-way dialogue between the public and their elected representatives, and to increase levels of digital inclusion (especially in Scotland)."
While progress has been made, "at this stage their offerings are not particularly compelling or, for that matter, widely in use".
The report says that "authorities in Scotland and Wales, along with those in Westminster, will need to continue to come up with new ways for the public to interact with them online in order to reach people in ways that are relevant to them".