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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 26 May 2005

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Student and Graduate Debt: Fiona Hyslop moved S2M-2866—That the Parliament notes with concern growing student and graduate debt in Scotland, which not only hinders opportunities for the individuals concerned, but also damages society and the wider economy generally; further notes the spiralling cost to the taxpayer of the expensive and bureaucratic student loan system and the growing consensus that it is unsustainable, and calls on the Scottish Executive to come forward with a constructive review, incorporating a number of proposals to address this growing problem and encompassing an assessment of replacing student loans, including the graduate endowment repayment, with a universal system of grants.

The Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (Allan Wilson) moved amendment S2M-2866.2 to motion S2M-2866—

Leave out from “notes with concern” to end and insert—

“agrees that the support arrangements for students ordinarily resident in Scotland should continue to be based on fairness and affordability; agrees that such a system should include free tuition, regardless of family income, and bursary support for those from less well-off backgrounds; welcomes the increased level of the Young Students’ Bursary and its extended eligibility; notes that liable graduates pay the graduate endowment in respect of the higher education benefits that they have received with the payments adding to the fund to pay support bursaries for students from poorer backgrounds, and recognises that the publication of the survey of Scottish students’ income and expenditure, later this year, will allow for a better understanding of the situation facing students and the continued development of policy to meet their needs.”

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S2M-2866.1 to motion S2M-2866—

Leave out from “further” to end and insert—

“calls on the Scottish Executive to end the graduate endowment which places an increased debt burden on students; recommends that the student loan repayment threshold be raised to £20,000 and that the loan value be increased to £5,000 per annum at a low, but commercial, rate of interest, which will remove the necessity for students to resort to expensive overdraft and credit card borrowing, and calls on the Executive to transfer all or part of the loan book to independent providers so that higher education can expand without extra and undue burden being placed on the taxpayer.”

After debate, amendment S2M-2866.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 60, Against 44, Abstentions 7). As a result amendment S2M-2866.1 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 62, Against 44, Abstentions 7).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament agrees that the support arrangements for students ordinarily resident in Scotland should continue to be based on fairness and affordability; agrees that such a system should include free tuition, regardless of family income, and bursary support for those from less well-off backgrounds; welcomes the increased level of the Young Students’ Bursary and its extended eligibility; notes that liable graduates pay the graduate endowment in respect of the higher education benefits that they have received with the payments adding to the fund to pay support bursaries for students from poorer backgrounds, and recognises that the publication of the survey of Scottish students’ income and expenditure, later this year, will allow for a better understanding of the situation facing students and the continued development of policy to meet their needs.

2. Age Discrimination in the NHS: Shona Robison moved S2M-2861—That the Parliament is concerned about the lack of personal care and attention given to older people in some acute hospitals in Scotland and believes that the Scottish Executive should establish, as a matter of urgency, an independent inquiry into direct and indirect age discrimination within the NHS.

The Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care (Rhona Brankin) moved amendment S2M-2861.3 to motion S2M-2861—

Leave out from “is concerned” to end and insert—

“welcomes the work of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland on its 2004 review of older people in acute care and its recommendations on how to improve services; welcomes the independent inquiry set up by NHS Lothian in response to recent criticisms of its standards of care, and welcomes the fact that the Scottish Executive has commenced work on an overarching framework for healthcare and community care for older people in Scotland, having due regard to David Kerr’s report on the future of the NHS.”

Nanette Milne moved amendment S2M-2861.1 to motion S2M-2861—

Leave out from “and believes” to end and insert—

“believes that the Health Committee should consider the issue of elderly abuse in its post-legislative scrutiny of community care legislation; further believes that any neglect of the elderly reflects the current problems and workforce pressures that the NHS suffers from, and recognises that the NHS needs real reform to alleviate these fundamental problems.”

After debate, amendment S2M-2861.3 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 61, Against 41, Abstentions 12). As a result amendment S2M-2861.1 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 17, Abstentions 34).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament welcomes the work of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland on its 2004 review of older people in acute care and its recommendations on how to improve services; welcomes the independent inquiry set up by NHS Lothian in response to recent criticisms of its standards of care, and welcomes the fact that the Scottish Executive has commenced work on an overarching framework for healthcare and community care for older people in Scotland, having due regard to David Kerr’s report on the future of the NHS.

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

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

5. Themed Question Time: Questions on Enterprise , Lifelong Learning and Transport, and on Justice and Law Officers were answered by Scottish Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers and by the Scottish Law Officers.

6. Business Motion: Ms Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S2M-2875—That the Parliament agrees that, during Stage 3 of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Bill, debate of groups of amendments shall, subject to Rule 9.8.4A, be brought to a conclusion by the time-limits indicated (each time limit being calculated from when the Stage begins and excluding any periods when other business is under consideration or when the meeting of the Parliament is suspended or otherwise not in progress):

Group 1 – 30 minutes

Group 2 – 45 minutes.

The motion was agreed to.

7. Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Bill - Stage 3: The Bill was considered at Stage 3.

The following amendments were agreed to without division: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.

8. Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Bill - Stage 3: The Deputy Minister for Justice (Hugh Henry) moved S2M-2772—That the Parliament agrees that the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Bill be passed.

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

9. Decision Time: Ms Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved, without notice, a motion under Rule 11.2.4 of Standing Orders that Decision Time on Thursday 26 May 2005 shall begin at 4.06 pm. The motion was agreed to.

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

11. Proposed Closure of Rural and Special Needs Schools in Aberdeenshire: The Parliament debated S2M-2770 in the name of Richard Lochhead—That the Parliament notes with concern the proposals by Aberdeenshire Council to close or amalgamate a number of local schools; recognises the strength of feeling amongst parents and the wider community over the implications of closing those schools, as illustrated by the formation of the Garioch Schools Action Group and other local campaigns; notes in particular the proposal to close St Andrew’s school in Inverurie, a school that is widely recognised as providing an excellent educational environment for children with special needs; recognises the opposition to the current proposals by local parents at St Andrew’s who are genuinely concerned by the impact some of the options proposed by Aberdeenshire Council will have on their children; notes the ongoing confusion over the exact nature of the local authority’s proposals which is causing considerable distress amongst parents; believes that Aberdeenshire Council must make available to parents all the necessary information in relation to all those schools proposed for closure as part of the current consultation process; considers that Aberdeenshire Council should recognise the strength of the arguments put forward by parents and the wider community for the retention of their local schools, and further considers that the Scottish Executive should play what role it can to ensure that Aberdeenshire Council’s proposals do not damage the educational welfare of the children and wider interests of the community.

11. Motion without Notice: Richard Lochhead moved without notice that, under Rule 8.14.3, the debate be extended until 5.12pm . The motion was agreed to.

The meeting closed at 5.12 pm .

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
26 May 2005

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

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 26 May 2005 and are subject to annulment—

The Contaminants in Food (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/277)

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

The Animals and Animal Products (Import and Export) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/278)—

The Pesticides (Maximum Residue Levels in Crops, Food and Feeding Stuffs) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/281)—

The Registration of Fish Sellers and Buyers and Designation of Auction Sites (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/286)—

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

The Seed Potatoes (Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/279)—

The Seed Potatoes (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/280)—

laid under section 16(1) and (6) of the Plant Varieties and Seeds Act 1964

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 26 May 2005—

Audit Committee , 4th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 346)

Communities Committee, 4th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 347)

Education Committee , 5th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 348)

Enterprise and Culture Committee, 5th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 349)

Environment and Rural Development Committee, 8th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 350)

Equal Opportunities Committee, 4th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 351)

Finance Committee, 3rd Report , 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 352)

Health Committee, 9th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 353)

Justice 1 Committee, 6th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 354)

Justice 2 Committee , 8th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 355)

Local Government and Transport Committee, 6th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 356)

Procedures Committee , 5th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 357)

Public Petitions Committee, 2nd Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 358)

Standards and Public Appointments Committee, 2nd Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 359)

Subordinate Legislation Committee 18th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Annual Report 2004-05 (SP Paper 360)

Communities Committee 5th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate legislation (SP Paper 363)

Environment and Rural Development Committee, 7th Report, 2005 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 364)