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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 3 February 2005

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

The meeting opened at 9.30 am.

1. The Economy: Jim Mather moved S2M-2361—That the Parliament calls for Scotland to acquire the economic powers currently enjoyed by other similar-sized European nations; recognises that there are many lessons to be learnt from other such nations, many of whom have fewer natural resources than Scotland but are more globally competitive and have far higher standards of living; notes, in particular, that, unlike Scotland, Norway has benefited enormously from its oil and gas resources with living standards that are amongst the highest in the world and an oil fund for future generations that is now worth well over £80 billion; notes that our oil revenues are projected to reach at least £6 billion in 2005 and to continue well into the future, and calls for Scotland to have control over offshore resources as one aspect of an economic strategy designed to make us a much more competitive nation with world-class public services, constantly-improving skills and infrastructure and our own Scottish oil fund to provide a lasting legacy.

The Deputy First Minister and Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (Mr Jim Wallace) moved amendment S2M-2361.3 to motion S2M-2361—

Leave out from first “calls” to end and insert—

“welcomes the progress that the Scottish Executive is making towards delivering the priorities of Framework for Economic Development in Scotland by working to improve productivity throughout the economy; welcomes, in particular, the record investment in Scotland’s transport and electronic infrastructure, world-class universities and colleges and in the wholesale modernisation of Scotland’s schools; notes that the Financial Times’ fDI European Region of the Future accolade was awarded to Scotland because of this public investment, favourable business environment, level of skills and quality of life; believes that raising Scotland’s rate of economic growth sustainably over the long term requires a focus on improving skills, regenerating communities and supporting companies and others to internationalise and invest in research, and recognises that a drawn out and messy separation from the rest of the UK, and prospectively the EU, would undermine these strengths, play into the hands of Scotland’s competitors and provide Scotland with a lasting legacy of cost, bureaucracy and barriers to trade.”

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S2M-2361.1 to motion S2M-2361—

Leave out from first “calls” to end and insert—

“agrees that fluctuating prices and finite supplies make oil revenue an unreliable source of income; notes that, even if all revenue from North Sea oil had been allocated to Scotland in 2002-03, net borrowing would still have been £4.4 billion; further notes that Scotland’s businesses, who are the core drivers of wealth and economic growth, are demanding concrete action, not constitutional change, and therefore calls on 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 and boosting Scotland’s economic competitiveness.”

Shiona Baird moved amendment S2M-2361.2 to motion S2M-2361—

Leave out from “recognises” to end and insert—

“rejects the notion that Scotland’s independent economic future depends on oil; recognises that an economy founded on fossil-fuel use contributes to climate change and other environmental damage, which in turn threatens Scotland’s economic future; recognises that oil is a finite resource which future generations will not be able to depend on for economic security; further recognises that oil is valuable as a chemical resource which should be increasingly conserved for non-fuel uses; believes that building Scotland’s economy on a foundation of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency and sustainable transport is the way to achieve real sustainability, and calls on the Scottish Executive to give priority to exploring the concept of a “just transition” policy, as advocated by Scottish trade unions, which sets out a path to transform polluting industries into sustainable enterprises.”

Frances Curran moved amendment S2M-2361.4 to motion S2M-2361—

Leave out from “recognises” to end and insert—

“believes that these powers should include the power to take into public ownership our oil and gas reserves; notes that Norway has benefited enormously from its oil and gas resources with living standards that are amongst the highest in the world; notes that the main reason for this benefit is the interventionist policy of Norway, where the government-owned oil investment fund has now topped £165 billion and its state oil company, Stateoil, has a 51% stake in the two other Norwegian oil companies which brings in 50% of all oil revenues, and believes that a future Scottish government should take into complete public ownership all North Sea oil and gas reserves through a state-owned oil company so that oil revenues can be invested for the benefit of the people of Scotland and not oil company shareholders.”

After debate, amendment S2M-2361.3 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 66, Against 56, Abstentions 1). As a result, amendments S2M-2361.1, S2M-2361.2, S2M-2361.4 were pre-empted.

The motion, as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 67, Against 56, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved— That the Parliament welcomes the progress that the Scottish Executive is making towards delivering the priorities of Framework for Economic Development in Scotland by working to improve productivity throughout the economy; welcomes, in particular, the record investment in Scotland’s transport and electronic infrastructure, world-class universities and colleges and in the wholesale modernisation of Scotland’s schools; notes that the Financial Times’ fDI European Region of the Future accolade was awarded to Scotland because of this public investment, favourable business environment, level of skills and quality of life; believes that raising Scotland’s rate of economic growth sustainably over the long term requires a focus on improving skills, regenerating communities and supporting companies and others to internationalise and invest in research, and recognises that a drawn out and messy separation from the rest of the UK, and prospectively the EU, would undermine these strengths, play into the hands of Scotland’s competitors and provide Scotland with a lasting legacy of cost, bureaucracy and barriers to trade.

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

3. Question Time: Questions were answered by the Minister for Environment and Rural Development (Ross Finnie); by the Minister for Health and Community Care (Mr Andy Kerr); and by other Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

4. Ministerial Statement: The Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (Allan Wilson) made a statement and answered questions on Grant Awards: SEEKIT/SCORE.

5. Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2005: The Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform (Mr Tom McCabe) moved S2M-2318—That the Parliament agrees that the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2005 (SSI 2005/19) be approved.

Mr Brian Monteith moved amendment S2M-2318.1 to motion S2M-2318—

Insert at end—

“but, in so doing, 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 should be allocated to the Scottish Local Authorities’ Revenue Support Grant.”

After debate, the amendment disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 41, Against 80, Abstentions 1).

The motion was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 100, Against 18, Abstentions 5).

6. Inquiries Bill – UK Legislation: The Deputy Minister for Justice (Hugh Henry) moved S2M-2242—That the Parliament recognises the benefits of a modern statutory framework for the holding of inquiries into matters of public concern and agrees that the provisions in the Inquiries Bill, so far as they relate to matters within the legislative competence of the Parliament or to the executive competence of the Scottish Ministers, should be considered by the UK Parliament.

The motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 83, Against 39, Abstentions 1).

7. Business Motion: Ms Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S2M-2346—That the Parliament agrees—

(a) that consideration of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1 be completed by 18 March 2005; and

(b) that consideration of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2 be completed by 18 March 2005.

The motion was agreed to.

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

9. Cuts in Local Benefits Services: The Parliament debated S2M-1916 in the name of Brian Adam—That the Parliament expresses great concern about the impact of the proposed cuts by the Department of Work and Pensions in local provision of benefits advice; regrets the likely reduction in benefits uptake by many vulnerable people; deplores the unfair geographical spread of the cuts, leaving Grampian, Tayside and Fife without any local offices; recognises the consequential increased workload that will fall on local authority and voluntary sector money advice services, and believes that the Scottish Executive should make representations to protect the interests and incomes of the vulnerable in Scotland.

The meeting closed at 5.54 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
3 February 2005

Appendix

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

Subordinate Legislation

Affirmative Instruments

The following instruments were laid in draft before the Parliament on 3 February 2005 for approval by resolution—

The Advice and Assistance (Assistance by Way of Representation) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2005—

The Advice and Assistance (Financial Conditions) (Scotland) Regulations 2005—

The Civil Legal Aid (Financial Conditions) (Scotland) Regulations 2005—

laid under section 37(2) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986

The Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Order 2005

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

The Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 2005

laid under section 191(9) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987

The Landfill Allowances Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2005

laid under section 28(4) of the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 3 February 2005 and are subject to annulment—

The Domestic Water and Sewerage Charges (Reduction) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/53)

laid under section 68(4) of the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002

The Water Services Charges (Billing and Collection) (Scotland) Order 2005 (SSI 2005/54)

laid under section 68 of the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002

Other Documents

The following documents were laid before the Parliament on 3 February 2005 and are not subject to any Parliamentary procedure—

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Annual Report 2003-04 (SPSO/2003-2004/AR)

laid under section 17 of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002

The Housing Support Grant Order 2005-2006 (SE/2005/11)

laid under section 191(9) and 192(3) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987

Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration Annual Report 2003-04 (SE/2005/15)

laid under section 135(1)(2)(a) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994

Committee Reports

The following reports are being published on the 3 February 2005—

Health Committee, 3rd Report 2005 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 283)

Justice 2 Committee, 4th Report 2005 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 284)