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MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS

Meeting of the Parliament

Vol 1, No 48

Thursday 22 January 2004

 
 

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

The meeting opened at 9.30 am.

1. Impact of Top-up Fees on Higher Education in Scotland: Fiona Hyslop moved S2M-803—That the Parliament believes that the Higher Education Bill published by the Department for Education and Skills on 8 January 2004 will have an adverse effect on Scottish higher education and therefore calls on all Scottish MPs to vote against the bill at Second Reading.

The Deputy First Minister and Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (Mr Jim Wallace) moved amendment S2M-803.2 to motion S2M-803—

Leave out from "believes" to end and insert—

"recognises that Scotland's distinctive higher education system is a valuable asset which must be maintained and developed for the good of the nation; further recognises that its competitive advantage must be maintained; welcomes the commitment in the Partnership Agreement that the Executive "will not support the introduction of top-up tuition fees" in Scotland; notes that the Enterprise and Culture Committee's report on its Scottish Solutions Inquiry considers that the Executive's decision to respond to developments in England by proceeding with a third phase of its higher education review in order to establish a robust evidence base "is wholly appropriate", and looks forward to this third phase of the review reporting in the early spring."

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S2M-803.3 to motion S2M-803—

Leave out from "will" to end and insert—

"imposing top-up fees may have an adverse effect on Scottish higher education; calls on the Scottish Executive to set out its proposals for dealing with any consequential impact on Scottish universities and on Scottish students if top-up fees are introduced in England; rejects the politically opportunistic stance of the SNP on this issue which is intended to destabilise the Union, and calls on all Scottish MPs to follow the lead of Peter Duncan MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, and abstain from voting on this Bill and, indeed, all Bills that relate only to England and/or Wales."

After debate, amendment S2M-803.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 65, Against 37, Abstentions 14). As a result amendment S2M-803.3 was pre-empted.

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 71, Against 7, Abstentions 37).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises that Scotland's distinctive higher education system is a valuable asset which must be maintained and developed for the good of the nation; further recognises that its competitive advantage must be maintained; welcomes the commitment in the Partnership Agreement that the Executive "will not support the introduction of top-up tuition fees" in Scotland; notes that the Enterprise and Culture Committee's report on its Scottish Solutions Inquiry considers that the Executive's decision to respond to developments in England by proceeding with a third phase of its higher education review in order to establish a robust evidence base "is wholly appropriate", and looks forward to this third phase of the review reporting in the early spring.

2. Fisheries Council December 2003: Richard Lochhead moved S2M-798—That the Parliament recognises that the fisheries agreement signed in December 2003 discriminates against Scotland and as a result is unworkable and unjust and therefore calls upon the Scottish and UK governments to seek an urgent renegotiation of the agreement to ensure the survival of our fishing communities.

The Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development (Allan Wilson) moved amendment S2M-798.4 to motion S2M-798—

Leave out from "recognises" to end and insert—

"supports the more balanced outcome negotiated by ministers at the December Fisheries Council; welcomes the fact that this will benefit many sections of the Scottish fishing industry while ensuring conservation of key stocks on which the long-term viability of the industry depends; deplores the calls by the SNP leader for fishermen to break the law; recognises that there are elements of the detailed agreement which are the subject of further technical discussion with the European Commission; supports the efforts made by the Scottish Executive to address these, and further supports the willingness of Scottish Ministers to monitor the socio-economic impact on fishermen, ports and communities following the conclusions of the technical discussions and EU negotiations with Norway with a view to taking appropriate action if necessary."

Mr Ted Brocklebank moved amendment S2M-798.1 to motion S2M-798—

Leave out from "discriminates" to end and insert—

"is unjust and discriminates against Scottish fishermen and has produced, in the words of Ross Finnie, "unintended consequences" which further reduce the catching powers of the white fish fleet; commends the efforts of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation and Fishermen's Association Ltd to mount legal challenges to the agreement, and seeks urgent clarification from the European Commission on the technical adjustments to no-go areas."

After debate, amendment S2M-798.4 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 70, Against 43, Abstentions 1). As a result amendment S2M-798.1 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 74, Against 42, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament supports the more balanced outcome negotiated by ministers at the December Fisheries Council; welcomes the fact that this will benefit many sections of the Scottish fishing industry while ensuring conservation of key stocks on which the long-term viability of the industry depends; deplores the calls by the SNP leader for fishermen to break the law; recognises that there are elements of the detailed agreement which are the subject of further technical discussion with the European Commission; supports the efforts made by the Scottish Executive to address these, and further supports the willingness of Scottish Ministers to monitor the socio-economic impact on fishermen, ports and communities following the conclusions of the technical discussions and EU negotiations with Norway with a view to taking appropriate action if necessary.

3. First Minister's Question Time: Questions were answered by the First Minister (Mr Jack McConnell).

4. Question Time: Questions were answered by Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

5. Comprehensive Programme of Education Reforms: The Minister for Education and Young People (Peter Peacock) moved S2M-806—That the Parliament supports the Scottish Executive's additional financial support and reform programme for school education, the focus on the needs of the individual child within a reinvigorated comprehensive system and delivering excellence in Scotland's schools through reduction in class sizes in P1 and in S1 and S2 for maths and English, reform of the curriculum to ensure it offers increased choice to young people including a changed ethos in P1 and better opportunities for students over 14, reform of parental involvement to achieve a better partnership between parents and schools and reform of additional support for learning to focus better on the needs of the child.

Fiona Hyslop moved amendment S2M-806.1 to motion S2M-806—

Leave out from "supports" to end and insert—

"notes the Scottish Executive's additional financial support and reform programme for school education; welcomes its belated adoption of longstanding SNP policies on the principle of class size reduction, tackling the bureaucratic problems associated with national tests and the damaging impact of the national publication of school league tables; looks forward to the Parliament's involvement in the review and reform of the curriculum, in the opportunities available around the transition period of pupils into primary, secondary and post-14 education and in additional support for learning, and calls on the Executive to ensure that resources, in particular sufficient properly trained and qualified teachers, are in place to meet these demands."

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 37, Against 78, Abstentions 0).

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton moved amendment S2M-806.2 to motion S2M-806—

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

"for school education, but believes that the Scottish Executive's reform programme for school education is insufficient to deal with the inherent problems thrown up by Scotland's comprehensive system and that the Scottish educational system needs radical reform, and would therefore support any visit by the Minister for Education and Young People to New Zealand in order that he can be inspired by New Zealand's devolved and diverse system, where, for the last 16 years under Labour and Conservative governments, schools have been managed by local school boards and parents have chosen the schools that their children attend, similar to the schools passport policy advocated by Scottish Conservatives."

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 13, Against 95, Abstentions 7).

The motion was then agreed to (DT).

6. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 1, 2 and 5 as noted above.

7. Recognition of Kinship Care: The Parliament debated S2M-792 in the name of John Swinburne—That the Parliament recognises that many grandparents have become the new foster care parents of children whose mothers and fathers have become disconnected from mainstream society; acknowledges that such care arrangements are usually more stable and result in a positive impact on the young person, as a consequence of grandparents' strong sense of commitment to provide care; further acknowledges that current legislation enables local authorities to contribute to the maintenance of a young person in kinship care; recognises that not all kinship carers will wish to undergo formal scrutiny, but shares concerns about the financial consequences experienced by kinship carers who have satisfied the relevant scrutiny requirements to provide this care, and considers that the Scottish Executive should ensure that local authorities make the appropriate contribution to these carers.

The meeting closed at 6.02 pm.

P E Grice

Clerk of the Parliament

22 January 2004

Appendix

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

Subordinate Legislation

Affirmative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 22 January 2004 for approval by resolution

The Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2004 (SSI 2004/14)

laid under paragraph 2(3) of schedule 12 to the Local Government Finance Act 1992

Negative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 22 January 2004 and is subject to annulment

The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (SSI 2004/13)

laid under schedule 2 paragraph 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 22 January 2004 and is not subject to any Parliamentary procedure

The Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2004 – Report by the Scottish Ministers (SE/2004/10)

laid under paragraph 2(3) of schedule 2 to the Local Government Finance Act 1992

Committee Reports

The following Report was published on 22 January 2004

Health Committee, 2nd Report 2004 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 82)


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