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MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS

Vol. 1, No. 58   Session 1

Meeting of the Parliament

Wednesday 8 March 2000

 

  

Note: (DT) signifies a decision taken at Decision Time.

The meeting opened at 2.30 pm.

 

1. Time for Reflection: Nigel Bruce, Representative of the Humanist Society, led Time for Reflection.

 

2. Water Charges: Richard Lochhead moved S1M-639—That the Parliament believes that the impending rises in water charges which have been approved by the Scottish Executive is as unacceptable and damaging as the rises in the local authority council tax forced on local authorities by the Executive’s inadequate local government financial settlement; notes that the Executive is failing to make any financial contribution to the maintenance of adequate standards in the water industry just as it is failing to adequately support essential local government services; calls for the increases in water charges to be kept to a minimum and for measures to be taken to avoid consumers being forced to pay the cost of past neglect of the industry including a review of external finance limits, the scrapping of the Private Finance Initiative and the cancelling of debt in the industry to avoid unnecessary and unfair increases in water bills, and condemns the apparent indifference of the Executive to the rise in water bills, the increase in council tax and the cutting of local government services particularly with regard to their impact on the most vulnerable in society.

The Minister for Transport and the Environment moved amendment S1M-639.1 to motion S1M-639—

Leave out from "believes" to end and insert—

"recognises that the Scottish public water authorities need to make very significant investments to deliver the high quality, safe and reliable water and sewerage service that the Scottish public and Scottish business need; recognises also that Scotland must meet the standards to protect health and the environment laid down in European and national legislation; welcomes the additional external finance made available by the Scottish Executive for the water authorities in the recent spending round; notes that the current system already provides a degree of protection for the most vulnerable through the link to council tax banding; welcomes the review of these arrangements that has been announced; welcomes the Water Industry Commissioner’s initiatives to increase efficiency, customer service and accountability in the water industry; and therefore endorses the strategic framework for the industry set out by the Scottish Executive in January."

Mr Murray Tosh moved amendment S1M-639.2 to motion S1M-639—

Delete from "believes" to end and insert—

"notes with concern the increasing cost of funding capital expenditure on water and sewerage from annual water charges; calls for a review of the structure and powers of Scotland’s water authorities, with a view to funding programmed capital expenditure from capital sources, and condemns the Executive for this year’s increase in water bills and council tax levels and the deep cuts forced on council services by the reduction in resources for local government from levels available under the previous Conservative Government."

After debate, amendment S1M-639.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 42, Abstentions 0). As a result, amendment S1M-639.2 was pre-empted.

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 30, Abstentions 13).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises that the Scottish public water authorities need to make very significant investments to deliver the high quality, safe and reliable water and sewerage service that the Scottish public and Scottish business need; recognises also that Scotland must meet the standards to protect health and the environment laid down in European and national legislation; welcomes the additional external finance made available by the Scottish Executive for the water authorities in the recent spending round; notes that the current system already provides a degree of protection for the most vulnerable through the link to council tax banding; welcomes the review of these arrangements that has been announced; welcomes the Water Industry Commissioner’s initiatives to increase efficiency, customer service and accountability in the water industry; and therefore endorses the strategic framework for the industry set out by the Scottish Executive in January.

 

3. Role of Post Offices: Fiona Hyslop moved S1M-638—That the Parliament notes the important role played by post offices and sub-post offices in the economic and social fabric of many of our communities and notes with concern proposals from Her Majesty’s Government to change the method of benefit payments (Automated Credit Transfer Scheme to banks) which could result in the closure of sub-post offices and the impact this could have on the social inclusion targets of the Scottish Executive; further notes that recent announcements to allow some cash payments to continue to be paid from post offices will be too little too late to alleviate this serious situation, and therefore calls upon the Scottish Executive to make urgent representations on this issue to Her Majesty’s Government in order to defend the interests of our urban and rural communities and urges it to be proactive in making representations to other relevant agencies to ensure the continuance and development of post offices in Scotland and the improvement of the availability of financial services in poorer communities in Scotland.

The Minister for Enterprise and LifeLong Learning moved amendment S1M-638.1 to motion S1M-638—

Leave out from "notes the" to end and insert—

"acknowledges the vital importance of post offices to the economic and social fabric of Scotland; notes the commitments given by Her Majesty’s Government on maintaining a nation-wide network of post offices for the benefit of communities in Scotland; supports the increased commercial freedom being given to the Post Office to develop new products within the public sector; acknowledges that all benefit recipients should be able to choose to have their benefit payments transacted by the post office and urges Her Majesty’s Government to maintain a network of post offices and offer reassurances to sub-postmasters and postmistresses through a positive programme of continuous improvement and expansion of services."

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 43, Abstentions 0).

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 65, Against 14, Abstentions 27).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament acknowledges the vital importance of post offices to the economic and social fabric of Scotland; notes the commitments given by Her Majesty’s Government on maintaining a nation-wide network of post offices for the benefit of communities in Scotland; supports the increased commercial freedom being given to the Post Office to develop new products within the public sector; acknowledges that all benefit recipients should be able to choose to have their benefit payments transacted by the post office and urges Her Majesty’s Government to maintain a network of post offices and offer reassurances to sub-postmasters and postmistresses through a positive programme of continuous improvement and expansion of services.

 

4. Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill: Mr Tom McCabe, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S1M-649—That the Parliament agrees that (a) Rules 9.5.3, 9.6.1, 9.6.3, 9.6.4, 9.6.5, 9.6.6, 9.7.8 and 9.7.9 of Standing Orders should be suspended for the purposes of the meeting of the Parliament at which Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill are taken, (b) that Stage 2 of the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill be taken by a Committee of the Whole Parliament and (c) directs that any vote to be taken during Stage 2 of the Bill in the Committee of the Whole Parliament shall be conducted using the electronic voting system.

The motion was agreed to (DT).

 

5. Approval of SSI: Mr Tom McCabe, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S1M-647—That the Parliament agrees that the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Cross-Border Public Authorities) (Forestry Commissioners) Order 2000 be considered by a meeting of the Parliament.

The motion was agreed to (DT).

 

6. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 2, 3, 4 and 5 as noted above.

 

7. International Women's Day: The Parliament debated S1M-557 in the name of Patricia Ferguson—That the Parliament notes that 8 March 2000 is celebrated as International Women’s Day, recognises the important contribution made by women to all aspects of Scottish life and, in doing so, acknowledges the progress made towards women’s equality and the need to ensure that any programme of government responds to the aspirations of women.

The meeting closed at 5.41 pm.

 

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
8 March 2000

 

 

Appendix

(Note: this Appendix does not form part of the Minutes)

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 6 March 2000 and is subject to annulment

The Non-Domestic Rate (Scotland) Order 2000 (SSI 2000/39)

laid under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1975

 

 

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 6 March 2000 and is not subject to any Parliamentary procedure

Meat and Livestock Commission Annual Report 1998-99 (SE/2000/28)

laid under the Agriculture Act 1967

 

The following documents were laid before the Parliament on 7 March 2000 and are not subject to any Parliamentary procedure—

Executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies 1999 Report (SE/2000/23)

Executive Agencies 1999 Report (SE/2000/24)

 

Note: the above Reports were also laid before both Houses of Parliament

 

Committee Reports

The following Report was published on 8 March 2000

Standards Committee, 2nd Report 2000: Report on Register of Interest of Staff of Members of the Scottish Parliament (SP Paper 80)

 

  
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