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MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS

Meeting of the Parliament

Vol 1, No 62 Session 2

Thursday 18 March 2004

 
 

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

The meeting opened at 9.31 am.

1. GM Crops: Roseanna Cunningham moved S2M-1051—That the Parliament notes the recommendations of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee's report GM Foods – Evaluating the Farm Scale Trials; believes that the cultivation of Chardon LL maize should not be considered in Scotland until a full inquiry has been undertaken into the potential commercial, environmental and health impact of such an introduction, and believes that, pending the outcome of such an inquiry, all existing legal powers should be used to block the approval of Chardon LL maize in keeping with the precautionary principle.

The Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development (Allan Wilson) moved amendment S2M-1051.1 to motion S2M-1051—

Leave out from "notes" to end and insert—

"acknowledges that at present there is little support for commercialisation of GM crops; acknowledges the European and UK legislative framework for GM; recognises that the Scottish Executive is not permitted by EU law to impose a blanket ban or blanket approval for GM crops; understands that decisions are required on a case by case basis; welcomes the Executive's decision to reject the commercial growing of spring GM oil seed rape and beet; notes that the Executive does not have scientific evidence nor the powers to ban the cultivation of GM maize; supports the Executive's decision to seek amendment to the EU approval for Chardon LL maize to restrict its cultivation; supports the Executive's decision not to agree seed listing for Chardon LL unless and until such EU changes are made; welcomes the Executive's commitment to consult on co-existence measures that will protect farmers who wish to grow conventional or organic crops, give consumers the choice not to consume GM foods and introduce compensation and liability measures; supports the Executive's initiative with the farming industry to ensure consumer confidence and consumer choice in Scottish produce, and welcomes the continuing commitment in the Partnership Agreement to apply the precautionary principle."

After debate, amendment S2M 1051.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 60, Against 59, Abstentions 1).

The motion as amended was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 60, Against 58, Abstentions 1).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament acknowledges that at present there is little support for commercialisation of GM crops; acknowledges the European and UK legislative framework for GM; recognises that the Scottish Executive is not permitted by EU law to impose a blanket ban or blanket approval for GM crops; understands that decisions are required on a case by case basis; welcomes the Executive's decision to reject the commercial growing of spring GM oil seed rape and beet; notes that the Executive does not have scientific evidence nor the powers to ban the cultivation of GM maize; supports the Executive's decision to seek amendment to the EU approval for Chardon LL maize to restrict its cultivation; supports the Executive's decision not to agree seed listing for Chardon LL unless and until such EU changes are made; welcomes the Executive's commitment to consult on co-existence measures that will protect farmers who wish to grow conventional or organic crops, give consumers the choice not to consume GM foods and introduce compensation and liability measures; supports the Executive's initiative with the farming industry to ensure consumer confidence and consumer choice in Scottish produce, and welcomes the continuing commitment in the Partnership Agreement to apply the precautionary principle.

2. Abolition of Council Tax: Fergus Ewing moved S2M-1050—That the Parliament believes that the council tax should be abolished and replaced with a fair system of local income taxation based on ability to pay; notes that the Partnership Agreement published on 15 May 2003 included a commitment to establish an independent review of local government finance; further notes, however, that no such review has been established, and calls on the Scottish Executive to honour its commitment by establishing the review forthwith under an independent chair and reporting back to the Parliament by the end of 2004.

The Deputy Minister for Finance and Public Services (Tavish Scott) moved amendment S2M-1050.4 to motion S2M-1050—

Leave out from "believes" to end and insert—

"agrees that the forthcoming independent review of local government finance should be asked to conduct a thorough examination of a range of local taxation systems, including the various proposals for an income-based system and reforms to the present council tax system, and encourages all those who wish to make a meaningful contribution to the review to submit their proposals when called upon to do so."

Mr Brian Monteith moved amendment S2M-1050.3 to motion S2M-1050—

Leave out from "the council tax" to end and insert—

"local taxation cannot be viewed in isolation and must be seen as part of the overall taxation system, particularly as locally variable taxes only raise 18% of council revenues with the rest coming from charges, business rates and central government grants and further believes that the independent review of local government finance must take account of what range of responsibilities are best administered locally and ensure a broadly-based system of national and local taxation with a combination of income, consumption, capital and property taxes as the best way of delivering a fair and balanced system."

Mark Ballard moved amendment S2M-1050.2 to motion S2M-1050—

Leave out from "income" to end and insert—

"taxation based on land values; notes that the Partnership Agreement published on 15 May 2003 included a commitment to establish an independent review of local government finance; further notes, however, that no such review has been established; calls on the Scottish Executive to honour its commitment by establishing the review forthwith under an independent chair and reporting back to the Parliament by the end of 2004; believes that local taxation based on land values will be to the benefit of Scotland's economy, society and environment, and welcomes the commitment the Chancellor of the Exchequer made in presenting his budget for 2004 to the House of Commons to investigate the possibility of taxing land values."

After debate, amendment 1050.4 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 36, Abstentions 7). As a result amendments 1050.3 and 1050.4 were pre-empted.

The motion as amended was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 78, Against 35, Abstentions 7).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—The Parliament agrees that the forthcoming independent review of local government finance should be asked to conduct a thorough examination of a range of local taxation systems, including the various proposals for an income-based system and reforms to the present council tax system, and encourages all those who wish to make a meaningful contribution to the review to submit their proposals when called upon to do so.

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

4. Question Time: Questions were answered by the Minister for Education and Young People (Peter Peacock) and the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport (Mr Frank McAveety); by the Minister Finance (Mr Andy Kerr) and Minister for Communities (Ms Margaret Curran); and by other Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

5. Action to Promote Women in Scotland: The Minister for Communities (Ms Margaret Curran) moved S2M-1052—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the report of the Strategic Group on Women, Improving the Position of Women in Scotland: An Agenda for Action, and urges all individuals and organisations that have an influence on the lives of women in Scotland to work together for the benefit of the whole of Scottish society, to deliver more opportunities for all women and greater recognition of the contribution women make through paid and unpaid work to the economic and social well-being of the country.

Shona Robison moved amendment S2M-1052.2 to motion S2M-1052—

Insert at end—

"and, in recognition of the problem of low pay for many Scottish women, agrees that Scotland's nursery nurses have a just claim for a fair, nationally negotiated settlement to their current dispute."

After debate, amendment 1052.2 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 44, Against 73, Abstentions 3).

The motion was then agreed to (DT).

6. Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – UK Legislation: The Deputy Minister for Justice (Hugh Henry) moved S2M-936—That the Parliament agrees that an amendment should be made to the Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill to provide for the compulsory transfer of prisoners from Northern Ireland to Scotland and that the amendment should be considered by the UK Parliament.

After debate, the motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 78, Against 35, Abstentions 7).

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

8. World Health Organisation Bone and Joint Decade: The Parliament debated S2M-971 in the name of Rhona Brankin—That the Parliament welcomes the World Health Organisation's Bone and Joint Decade 2000 to 2010; recognises that musculoskeletal disorders are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability affecting hundreds of millions of people including many young people around the world; further recognises that joint diseases account for more than half of all chronic conditions in persons aged 60 years and over and that back pain is the second leading cause of sick leave, and believes that the Scottish Executive should consider how best to raise awareness of musculoskeletal disorders in Scotland such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and ankylosing spondylitis and their impact both on people's lives and on the Scottish economy.

The meeting closed at 5.52 pm.

P E Grice

Clerk of the Parliament

18 March 2004

Appendix

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

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 18 March 2004 and are subject to annulment—

The Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (SSI/2004/132)—

The Jam and Similar Products (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (SSI/2004/133)—

laid under section 48(3) of the Food Safety Act 1990

Committee Reports

The following Reports were published on 18 March 2004—

Audit Committee, 4th Report 2004 (Session 2): Report on Scottish Further Education Funding Council – performance management of the further education sector in Scotland (SP Paper 108)

Health Committee, 6th Report 2004 (Session 2): Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 111)

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 10th Report 2004 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 112)

Communities Committee, 2nd Report 2004 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate legislation (SP Paper 113)


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