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MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS

Meeting of the Parliament

Vol 1No 52 Session 2

Thursday 5 February 2004

 
 

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

The meeting opened at 9.30 am.

1. Police Accountability: David McLetchie moved S2M-849—That the Parliament notes that there is widespread public misunderstanding of who is responsible for what in terms of policing in Scotland; recognises that there needs to be greater local involvement in policing along with a police service that is more responsive to public demands, and calls on the Scottish Executive to strengthen public accountability and involvement by considering ideas such as the direct election of conveners of police boards and the regular publication of localised crime statistics.

The Deputy Minister for Justice (Hugh Henry) moved amendment S2M-849.3 to motion S2M-849—

Leave out from "notes" to end and insert—

"endorses the Scottish Executive’s commitment to work for a safer Scotland by reducing crime and re-offending; welcomes its commitment to enhance community accountability for policing through local police boards; endorses its promotion of responsiveness to local communities through police boards’ duty to secure Best Value and to report to the public on performance, and welcomes its policy of Community Planning which is enabling police forces to improve the delivery of services to local communities through more effective collaboration with other public bodies."

Nicola Sturgeon moved amendment S2M-849.1 to motion S2M-849—

Leave out from "notes" to end and insert—

"believes that the public’s concern about policing is less about the lack of police accountability and more about the lack of police officers; calls for an overall increase in the number of police officers to take account of the fact that many more are now engaged in specialist activity, rather than community policing; recognises the right of the police to set local priorities free from political interference; encourages an intensive targeting of crime hotspots, low-level offending that nevertheless impinges on the quality of life in communities and persistent offenders who account for a disproportionate amount of crime, but urges all those involved in the criminal justice system not to lose sight of the fact that it is serious violent crime that is on the increase in Scotland."

After debate amendment S2M-849.3 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 47, Abstentions 7). As a result amendment S2M-849.1 was pre-empted.

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 47, Abstentions 7).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament endorses the Scottish Executive’s commitment to work for a safer Scotland by reducing crime and re-offending; welcomes its commitment to enhance community accountability for policing through local police boards; endorses its promotion of responsiveness to local communities through police boards’ duty to secure Best Value and to report to the public on performance, and welcomes its policy of Community Planning which is enabling police forces to improve the delivery of services to local communities through more effective collaboration with other public bodies.

2. The Scottish Economy: Murdo Fraser moved S2M-855—That the Parliament notes with concern the consistent underperformance of the Scottish economy relative to that of the UK as a whole; recognises that the burdens of higher rates, water charges and regulation faced by businesses in Scotland are factors contributing to this underperformance, and calls upon the Scottish Executive to take immediate steps to create a more business friendly environment by reducing business rates and water charges and cutting red tape, thereby encouraging business development, improving the outlook for economic growth, and contributing to a reverse in Scotland’s trend of population decline.

The Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (Lewis Macdonald) moved amendment S2M-855.3 to motion S2M-855—

Leave out from "with" to end and insert—

"the evidence of an upturn in global economic activity and the opportunities for Scottish businesses and the Scottish economy to grow; rejects the proposition that increased competitiveness is best achieved by reductions in business taxation; believes instead that economic growth and wealth creation require targeted investment in skills and learning, business growth and innovation, and global connections, and supports the Scottish Executive’s strategy of sustained investment in these areas to improve Scotland’s competitive position in the global economy."

Jim Mather moved amendment S2M-855.1 to motion S2M-855—

Leave out from "recognises" to end and insert—

"welcomes growing calls for the Scottish Parliament to enjoy the full range of tax powers available to Scotland’s competitors, and recognises that only with the normal economic powers of an independent parliament will the competitive conditions be created in Scotland to reverse low growth and population decline."

Carolyn Leckie moved amendment S2M-855.2 to motion S2M-855—

Leave out from "with" to end and insert—

"the complete absence of real economic powers for example in its ability to eradicate pensioner poverty by raising the state pension, its inability to raise the taxes of the rich and its inability to set a decent minimum wage rate for all workers in both the private and public sector and believes that it will only be when the Parliament has full control of fiscal and economic policy that Scotland will be able to achieve substantial and lasting economic growth."

After debate amendment S2M-855.3 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 54, Abstentions 1). As a result amendments 855.1 and 855.2 were pre-empted.

The motion as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 54, Abstentions 1).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes the evidence of an upturn in global economic activity and the opportunities for Scottish businesses and the Scottish economy to grow; rejects the proposition that increased competitiveness is best achieved by reductions in business taxation; believes instead that economic growth and wealth creation require targeted investment in skills and learning, business growth and innovation, and global connections, and supports the Scottish Executive’s strategy of sustained investment in these areas to improve Scotland’s competitive position in the global economy.

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. Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2004: The Minister for Finance and Public Services (Mr Andy Kerr) moved S2M-821—That the Parliament agrees that the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2004 (SSI 2004/14) be approved.

Mr Brian Monteith moved amendment S2M-821.1 to motion S2M-821—

Insert at end—

"but, in doing so, considers that any consequential funding under the Barnett Formula accruing to Scotland as a result of an increase in the grant given to English and Welsh local authorities will be allocated to the Scottish Local Authorities’ Revenue Support Grant."

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 17, Against 89, Abstentions 12).

The motion was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 95, Against 18, Abstentions 5).

6. Gender Recognition Bill – UK Legislation: The Deputy Minister for Justice (Hugh Henry) moved S2M-813—That the Parliament endorses the principle of giving transsexual people legal recognition of their acquired gender and agrees that the provisions in the Gender Recognition Bill that relate to devolved matters should be considered by the UK Parliament thereby ensuring a consistent UK approach and early compliance with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights with respect to the Convention rights of transsexual people under Article 8 (right to respect for private life) and Article 12 (right to marry).

After debate, the motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 76, Against 35, Abstentions 7).

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

8. Tax Stamps on Scotch Whisky Products: The Parliament debated S2M-833 in the name of Mr Brian Monteith—That the Parliament notes with concern that Her Majesty’s Government is once again considering the introduction of tax stamps on spirits, but not on wine or beer; recognises that any such tax stamp would impact particularly on the Scotch whisky industry; believes that the case for a tax stamp system is not proven and that it would be an ineffective means of combating fraud and illicit trade while imposing substantial costs and practical problems on the industry, particularly in relation to labelling and storage; notes the Scottish Executive’s Scotch whisky framework which supports a fair taxation regime for Scotch whisky, and therefore believes that the Executive should make representations to Her Majesty’s Government against the introduction of tax stamps or any similar burdens on the Scotch whisky industry.

The meeting closed at 5.59 pm.

P E Grice

Clerk of the Parliament

5 February 2004

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 5 February 2004 for approval by resolution

The Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Order 2004

laid under section 32(9) of the Electricity Act 1989

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 5 February 2004 and is not subject to any Parliamentary procedure

The General Teaching Council for Scotland Annual Report and Accounts 2002-03 (SE/2004/13)

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 5 February 2004—

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 4th Report 2004 (Session 2): Report on Budget (Scotland) Bill (SP Paper 91)

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 5th Report 2004 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 92)


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