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MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS

Vol. 2, No. 53 Session 1

Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 8 February 2001

 

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

The meeting opened at 9.30 am.

1. Renewable Energy: Robin Harper moved S1M-1634—That the Parliament recognises that (a) Scotland’s renewable energy resources have been recorded as being the best in Europe; (b) there is significant potential for creating employment, both through generating renewable energy and from the manufacture of renewable energy generating plant; (c) community based renewable energy projects would benefit rural development in particular; (d) renewable energy can replace fossil fuels and nuclear energy, therefore contributing to a reduction in climate change impacts from greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction in the accumulation of highly radioactive nuclear waste, and (e) there are certain barriers to the development of Scotland’s renewable energy potential and these barriers must be rapidly surmounted if Scotland is to capitalise on the potential for job creation and environmental protection and therefore calls on the Scottish Executive to (i) set an aspirational target for supply of electricity from renewable sources of at least 22% in line with the recently announced European Union target; (ii) set a further aspirational target for renewable heat generating technologies and fuels such as biomass and solar thermal energy; (iii) establish a Scottish Wave Energy Test Site; (iv) ensure that, under the forthcoming Renewables Obligation Scotland (ROS) scheme, the generation of energy from the incineration of municipal waste does not qualify for support; (v) ensure under ROS that small scale hydroelectricity generation and refurbishment does qualify for support; (vi) ensure under ROS that there is a market for wave energy; (vii) ensure under ROS that Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) may be issued in multiples of as low as one kilowatt hour in order to facilitate the granting of ROCs for domestic scale renewables and auto-generation and that ROCs are fully tradable across the border with England, and (viii) urgently establish a new cross-cutting team within the Scottish Executive drawing on the resources of the Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning and the Minister for Environment, Sport and Culture whose first goal will be to set up a Renewable Energy Working Group headed by a new Commissioner for Renewable Energy and whose remit will be to pursue actively the development of renewable energy in Scotland.

The Deputy Minister for Sport and Culture moved amendment S1M-1634.1 to motion S1M-1634—

Leave out from "that (a)" to end and insert—

"the vital importance of renewable energy as a means of tackling climate change and promoting sustainable development; acknowledges the potential benefit for the Scottish economy from promoting and encouraging renewable energy projects; endorses the commitment shown by the Scottish Executive to the promotion of renewable energy contained in the document Working Together for Scotland, and supports the Executive’s proposals for future policy on renewables as outlined in the current consultation paper on renewable energy policy."

Fiona McLeod moved amendment S1M-1634.2 to motion S1M-1634—

Leave out from "urgently" to end and insert—

"commission an environmental audit as a forerunner to producing a national environment plan which will encompass a renewable energy capacity audit."

After debate, amendment S1M-1634.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 78, Against 34, Abstentions 0). As a result, amendment S1M-1634.2 was pre-empted.

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 78, Against 34, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises the vital importance of renewable energy as a means of tackling climate change and promoting sustainable development; acknowledges the potential benefit for the Scottish economy from promoting and encouraging renewable energy projects; endorses the commitment shown by the Scottish Executive to the promotion of renewable energy contained in the document Working Together for Scotland, and supports the Executive’s proposals for future policy on renewables as outlined in the current consultation paper on renewable energy policy.

2. National Health Service: Tommy Sheridan moved S1M-1624—That the Parliament notes the increasing concern expressed by parents and many in the medical profession across Scotland regarding the triple MMR vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella and agrees, in the interest of addressing this serious public concern and in order to maximise choice for worried parents in relation to these important vaccinations, to allow immediately single vaccinations across the National Health Service in Scotland for at least a five year period, during which a detailed study of autistic spectrum disorder should take place and its incidence throughout Scotland should be closely monitored.

The Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care moved amendment S1M-1624.1 to motion S1M-1624—

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

"that the MMR vaccine commands the support of all the major health organisations in the UK, that it is recommended by the World Health Organisation, that it is used in over 30 European countries, as well as in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and that the two UK independent expert committees, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Committee on Safety of Medicines, remain unequivocal that, on the scientific evidence available, there is no causal link between MMR vaccine and autism; further notes that there is in progress a major study funded by the Medical Research Council into the causes of autism, and agrees that, in the best interests of all Scottish children, there is a need to present to concerned parents the facts about MMR and single antigen vaccines in an objective, accurate and responsible way."

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 62, Against 49, Abstentions 0).

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 49, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes that the MMR vaccine commands the support of all the major health organisations in the UK, that it is recommended by the World Health Organisation, that it is used in over 30 European countries, as well as in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and that the two UK independent expert committees, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Committee on Safety of Medicines, remain unequivocal that, on the scientific evidence available, there is no causal link between MMR vaccine and autism; further notes that there is in progress a major study funded by the Medical Research Council into the causes of autism, and agrees that, in the best interests of all Scottish children, there is a need to present to concerned parents the facts about MMR and single antigen vaccines in an objective, accurate and responsible way.

3. Local Authority Housing Capital Debt: Tommy Sheridan moved S1M-1626—That the Parliament notes the introduction of capital receipt set aside rules by the previous Tory government in April 1996, diverting significant resources from council expenditure across Scotland; further notes the universal opposition of Labour MPs, councillors and CoSLA to these set aside rules when they were introduced; also notes that since financial year 1997-98 a total of £641 million has been diverted from investment in council housing stock and from 1999-2000 to 2000-01 a total of £315,536,000 has been lost from council housing budgets; finally notes that the sum lost from council housing budgets since 1999 could have delivered 126,214 households with whole-house central heating and insulation and/or double-glazed window units, and therefore agrees to rescind the capital receipt set aside rules with immediate effect, thus releasing in excess of £150 million in the current year and a similar amount in financial year 2001-02.

The Deputy Minister for Social Justice moved amendment S1M-1626.2 to motion S1M-1626—

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

"recognises the need to provide innovative solutions to tackling the high levels of local authority housing debt; notes that the use of capital receipts contributes to the management of that debt burden; welcomes the Executive’s community ownership initiative as a means of lifting the debt burden from tenants, securing a step change in investment and putting tenants at the heart of rebuilding communities, and also welcomes the Executive’s commitment to provide all council and housing association tenants, and all pensioners in both public and private housing, with warm and dry homes through the installation of central heating and insulation by 2006."

Linda Fabiani moved amendment S1M-1626.1 to motion S1M-1626—

Leave out from "also" to end and insert—

"notes that the imposition of the capital receipt set aside rules is only one example of the attack on public investment in housing that began under the Conservatives and has been continued by the present UK Government and Scottish Executive; regrets that the Labour Government and this Labour/Liberal administration have continued this Conservative policy, and calls upon the Scottish Executive to rescind the capital receipt set aside rules with immediate effect and so inject much needed funding into Scotland’s public sector housing."

After debate, amendment S1M-1626.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 35, Abstentions 0). As a result, amendment S1M-1626.1 was pre-empted.

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 34, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises the need to provide innovative solutions to tackling the high levels of local authority housing debt; notes that the use of capital receipts contributes to the management of that debt burden; welcomes the Executive’s community ownership initiative as a means of lifting the debt burden from tenants, securing a step change in investment and putting tenants at the heart of rebuilding communities, and also welcomes the Executive’s commitment to provide all council and housing association tenants, and all pensioners in both public and private housing, with warm and dry homes through the installation of central heating and insulation by 2006.

4. Abolition of Council Tax: Tommy Sheridan moved S1M-1627—That the Parliament believes that the council tax is a fundamentally unfair and regressive tax; believes in social justice and the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor; therefore agrees to abolish the council tax and replace it with the Scottish Service Tax which is based on an individual’s income and is inherently fairer, more efficient and redistributive; notes that the Scottish Service Tax would raise more revenue than the council tax and that it would remove the burden of paying for local government jobs and services from the shoulders of low paid workers and pensioners and place it firmly on the shoulders of the well paid and the wealthy, and believes that the introduction of the Scottish Service Tax should be complemented by the return of the right for local authorities to raise and retain their business rates and a thorough investigation of land value and speculation taxes to supplement local authority revenue.

The Deputy Minister for Finance and Local Government moved amendment S1M-1627.2 to motion S1M-1627—

Leave out from first "believes" to end and insert—

"welcomes the substantial reforms that the Executive has brought to the operation of local government finance by the delivery of three-year budget figures for grant, by the removal of expenditure guidelines and by increasing the funding of councils; further welcomes the indications from the Executive that it will pursue further reforms in the future, and notes that the Local Government Committee of the Parliament is to conduct an investigation into the financing of local government."

Fergus Ewing moved amendment S1M-1627.1 to motion S1M-1627—

Leave out from first "believes" to end and insert—

"endorses the unanimous decision of the Local Government Committee to carry out an independent inquiry into local government finance, and believes the outcome of that inquiry should be awaited before any fundamental changes are made to the current system."

After debate, amendment S1M-1627.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 62, Against 48, Abstentions 1). As a result, amendment S1M-1627.1 was pre-empted.

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 62, Against 21, Abstentions 29).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament welcomes the substantial reforms that the Executive has brought to the operation of local government finance by the delivery of three-year budget figures for grant, by the removal of expenditure guidelines and by increasing the funding of councils; further welcomes the indications from the Executive that it will pursue further reforms in the future, and notes that the Local Government Committee of the Parliament is to conduct an investigation into the financing of local government.

5. Business Motion: Mr Tavish Scott, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S1M-1635—That the Parliament agrees the following programme of business—

Wednesday 14 February 2001

2.30 pm Time for Reflection

followed by Ministerial Statement

followed by Health and Community Care Committee Debate on its Report on the Delivery of Community Care in Scotland

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

followed by Members' Business - debate on the subject of S1M-1569 Fiona Hyslop: Debt Advice and Debt Awareness Day

Thursday 15 February 2001

9.30 am Scottish National Party Business

followed by Business Motion

2.30 pm Question Time

3.10 pm First Minister's Question Time

3.30 pm Executive Debate on Children’s Issues

followed by Executive Motion on the Culture and Recreation Bill – UK Legislation

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

followed by Members' Business - debate on the subject of S1M-1614 Trish Godman: Hospices

The motion was agreed to.

6. Question Time: Questions were answered by the First Minister and other Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

7. Budget (Scotland) (No.2) Bill – Stage 3: The Minister for Finance and Local Government moved S1M-1628—That the Parliament agrees that the Budget (Scotland) (No.2) Bill be passed.

After debate, the motion was agreed to (DT).

8. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 as noted above.

9. Non-payment of Redundancy Packages to Ailsa Troon: The Parliament debated S1M-1489 in the name of John Scott—That the Parliament condemns the action of the Cathelco Group, owners of Ailsa Troon shipyard, which has failed to pay 16 shipyard workers redundancy payments totalling some £300,000 due to them under the terms of their contracts; further notes that these workers had demonstrated their loyalty to the yard by remaining to complete an order after the other workers had been laid off by Cathelco, and urges the suspension of the award of any further government contracts to Cathelco companies until such a time as Cathelco honours its commitment to all its staff.

The meeting closed at 5.40 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
8 February 2001

 

Appendix

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

Subordinate Legislation

Affirmative Instruments

The following instrument was laid in draft before the Parliament on 8 February 2001 for approval by resolution

The Civil Defence (Scotland) Regulations 2001

laid under the Civil Defence Act 1948

Committee Reports

The following Reports were published on 8 February 2001—

Justice 2 Committee, 1st Report 2001: Report on The Number of Inner House Judges (Variation) Order 2001 (SP Paper 268)

Health and Community Care Committee, 3rd Report 2001: Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 269)

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