It's common for certain ideas to become lodged so firmly that they stay in our minds long after the facts have moved on.

One such idea is that our Scottish Parliament, still relatively young as an institution, does politics in a newer and more inclusive way than Westminster.

My first encounter with Holyrood was as a committee witness, three years before I was elected and I did feel that the place was inclusive and business-like, a far cry from the arcane ritual of Westminster. Its online presence and mechanisms like the Petitions Committee and the Civic Forum were also innovative.

Now, sadly, time has moved on but Holyrood hasn't. Ideas which were fresh back then have grown stale. Westminster, meanwhile, has watched and learned from the newer democratic forums within these islands. While there is still a lot wrong with its culture, some of its ways of working have clearly overtaken us.

Holyrood's committee system in particular is not providing the quality or depth of scrutiny that's needed. This has become clearer under single-party majority government, but it was already a problem before that. Most committees have heavy workloads and cannot undertake the careful examination that legislation needs both before and after it's passed. Some have absurdly wide remits, and can barely scratch the surface.

Beyond this, there is a culture of absolute whipping which our committees were not intended to develop. The large majority of votes are in the bag before ministers even open their mouths. Committee reports tend to split down party lines. Some members seem unable to grasp the difference between parliament and government, and don't understand that, even if they support the Government, their job on committees is to challenge and probe, holding power accountable.

Little wonder, given that the distinction has been deliberately blurred. The job of Parliamentary Liaison Officer is analogous to Westminster's system of parliamentary private secretaries, backbenchers who act as a link between ministers and their parliamentary party. Appointment is by the First Minister, and implies a heavy expectation of loyalty. Unlike the model at Westminster, most sit on the committees scrutinising the minister they work for; some are even convenors or deputy convenors. They make speeches in the chamber and ask questions about the remit of the minister they themselves report to. This isn't parliamentary scrutiny; it's a government marking its own work.

Predictably, this culture of loyalty has become entrenched. While Westminster, for all its faults, is a feisty and rebellious parliament, at Holyrood backbench votes against the whips are simply unheard of.

In this context, and recognising that Holyrood's responsibilities are about to be broadened into welfare, taxation, energy and other areas, the Presiding Officer has broached the subject of reform. I'm concerned that the main idea being touted will make the problem worse, not better.

A cull of committees and of the overall number of committee places would leave us with far fewer committees, with far wider remits. These mega-committees might meet more flexibly, but leaving only a handful of members in charge of a Bill or an inquiry, narrowing the range of perspectives being brought to bear. If whips find it easy to control a committee of 11, how much easier a sub-group of three or four?

In the Presiding Officer's long speech on this topic, there was little designed to invigorate the culture of Holyrood. Even in the proposal for elected committee convenors, no bad idea in principle, there was no suggestion as to how control by the whips can be avoided in a small parliament where backbench competition for these posts will be limited.

The debate on reform is important. The Presiding Officer is due credit for opening it. Parliamentary scrutiny at Holyrood is weak, and improvement is urgent. But it cannot be allowed to be shaped only by politicians and officials; if Holyrood is to return to the early vision of a parliament that shares power with the people, inviting people in for art exhibitions in rooms designed for democratic debate simply won't cut it.

Patrick Harvie is co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party.