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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 22 December 2005

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Blood Products: Carolyn Leckie moved S2M-3767—That the Parliament recognises the dogged efforts of patients, relatives, campaigners and all those who have highlighted the issues around the contamination of blood products, including those with viruses such as Hepatitis C and HIV, in the past and the serious consequences for the recipients of these products and their families; acknowledges the previous and continuing work of the Parliament’s Health Committee and MSPs; accepts that campaigners’ demands for a full, independent, public inquiry remain outstanding; believes that there is now more information in the public domain and that the debate has moved on, and agrees that there should now be a full, independent public inquiry.

The Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care (Lewis Macdonald) moved amendment S2M-3767.2 to motion S2M-3767—

Leave out from “recognises” to end and insert—

“expresses its profound sympathy for those patients who have been infected with Hepatitis C through NHS treatment with blood or blood products; welcomes the payments which are being made by the Scottish Executive to help with the suffering and hardship involved; notes that there have been significant improvements in knowledge and in the safety of blood products since these events took place; believes that there is now more information in the public domain and that the debate has moved on, and believes that the focus should now be on practical action which would benefit the future delivery of services or patient care.”

Mrs Nanette Milne moved amendment S2M-3767.1 to motion S2M-3767—

Leave out from “accepts” to end and insert—

“extends its sympathy to those infected with Hepatitis C through contaminated blood products; welcomes the move to place information in the public domain, and believes at this moment in time that the best way to get clear decisive answers would be for those campaigners to bring forward a test case to the courts.”

After debate, amendment S2M-3767.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 76, Against 16, Abstentions 21).  As a result, S2M-3767.1 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 14, Abstentions 22).

Accordingly, the Parliament—That the Parliament expresses its profound sympathy for those patients who have been infected with Hepatitis C through NHS treatment with blood or blood products; welcomes the payments which are being made by the Scottish Executive to help with the suffering and hardship involved; notes that there have been significant improvements in knowledge and in the safety of blood products since these events took place; believes that there is now more information in the public domain and that the debate has moved on, and believes that the focus should now be on practical action which would benefit the future delivery of services or patient care.

2. “Torture Flights” on Scottish Soil: Frances Curran moved S2M-3766—That the Parliament considers, in light of recent decisions by the governments of Sweden, Spain and Iceland, by the European Union and now by Michael Todd, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police in England, to undertake inquiries into rendition flights, that the Scottish Executive should follow these examples; believes that there are sufficient grounds to justify an independent inquiry into the possible use of Scottish airports by CIA rendition flights, and further believes that the Lord Advocate should instruct the police to investigate without delay whether there has been a breach of Scots Law.

Scott Barrie moved amendment S2M-3766.4 to motion S2M-3766—

Leave out from “considers” to end, and insert—

“notes the allegations that have been made about the possible use of Scottish airports by CIA rendition flights; shares the public concern; condemns the use of torture wherever and whenever it may occur; notes that torture constitutes a crime under Scots and international law; reasserts its commitment to Article 4 of the UN Convention Against Torture and notes that this refers not only to acts of torture but to “an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture”; welcomes the assurances from the Lord Advocate that, if offences are committed in the jurisdiction of Scotland and he is made aware of supporting evidence, these allegations will be investigated; further welcomes the commitment of the First Minister to co-operate with any reasonable request from the Council of Europe or any other international organisation; calls on the Scottish Executive to co-operate with any inquiry into rendition flights in British airspace and calls for a commitment that on any issue for which it has responsibility it will take action if presented with credible and reliable information; reasserts that the investigation of crime is a matter for the police and that decisions on whether to investigate in particular cases are for the police to take without political interference, and calls for anyone having evidence of torture or any other crime taking place in Scotland to take that evidence to the police.”

Phil Gallie moved amendment S2M-3766.1 to motion S2M-3766—

Leave out from “considers” to end and insert—

“supports the UN Convention Against Torture, of which the United Kingdom is a signatory; believes that there is never any justification for torture; welcomes the judgement by the Law Lords that evidence obtained under torture was inadmissible in court and was also inadmissible in a Special Immigration Appeals Commission case; notes the allegations in the press that CIA rendition flights have refuelled in Scotland; trusts that the Foreign Secretary’s assurances that such flights have not landed in Scotland are true, and calls for the Scottish Executive to detail what communications it has had with the Foreign Office over this matter.”

Mr Jim Wallace moved amendment S2M-3766.2 to motion S2M-3766—

Leave out from “considers” to end and insert—

“deplores all forms of torture; notes that torture, an attempt to commit torture or conspiracy to commit torture are crimes punishable under Scots Law at common law and through the UN Convention against Torture as incorporated into UK law by the Criminal Justice Act 1988; welcomes the inquiry by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to verify if the European Convention on Human Rights has been contravened and that member states have complied with their international obligations; further welcomes the First Minister’s commitment that the Scottish Executive would respond to the inquiry; in light of the public admissions by the US Government of the existence of rendition flights and the interim findings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on this issue, calls on the UK Government to hold an immediate and independent inquiry into rendition flights using British airspace and airports and to make clear to the US Government that extraordinary rendition flights are unacceptable in British airspace and in Britain, and further calls on the UK Government to work with the international community to review the adequacy of the Chicago Convention, in light of international security and human rights concerns.”

After debate, amendment S2M-3766.4 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 47, Against 53, Abstentions 12).  

After debate, the amendment S2M-3766.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 59, Against 33, Abstentions 21).  As a result, S2M-3766.2 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 59, Against 26, Abstentions 28).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament supports the UN Convention Against Torture, of which the United Kingdom is a signatory; believes that there is never any justification for torture; welcomes the judgement by the Law Lords that evidence obtained under torture was inadmissible in court and was also inadmissible in a Special Immigration Appeals Commission case; notes the allegations in the press that CIA rendition flights have refuelled in Scotland; trusts that the Foreign Secretary’s assurances that such flights have not landed in Scotland are true, and calls for the Scottish Executive to detail what communications it has had with the Foreign Office over this matter.

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. Gas Work Notification Scheme: The Parliament debated S2M-3698 in the name of Mr Andrew Welsh—That the Parliament notes with concern the introduction by CORGI of a mandatory notification scheme for all new gas installations in April of this year; further notes that, whilst supporting all measures which genuinely improve gas safety standards, the Gas Work Notification Scheme does not serve to improve standards or to tackle cowboy traders, that it was conceived around the requirements of the Home Information Pack which will apply only in England and Wales and that it places a wholly unnecessary time and cost burden on Scottish registered gas installers, which in turn places an additional cost burden on their major customers, such as Scottish housing associations and local authorities, with no benefit to the Scottish customer; is concerned at the implications of the scheme for gas installers and consumers in Angus; is further concerned that the scheme was introduced by CORGI without due consultation with Scottish member organisations, and considers that the Scottish Executive should ensure that this scheme is withdrawn from Scotland.

6. Themed Question Time: Questions on Education, Tourism, Culture and Sport, and on Finance and Communities were answered by Scottish Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

7. Business Motion: Ms Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S2M-3759—That the Parliament agrees that the Justice 2 Committee reports to the Health Committee by 13 January 2006 on the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 2006.

The motion was agreed to.

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

The meeting closed at 3.06 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
22 December 2005

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

New Bills introduced or reprinted on 21 December 2005

Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill—The Bill was reprinted as amended at Consideration Stage. (SP Bill 18A) (Private Bill)

Joint Inspection of Children’s Services and Inspection of Social Work Services (Scotland) Bill—The Bill was reprinted as amended at Stage 2. (SP Bill 49A) (Executive Bill)

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 22 December 2005 and are subject to annulment—

The Criminal Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Amendment (No. 3) Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/656)

laid under section 37(1) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986

The Marriage (Approval of Places) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/657)

laid under section 18A(9) of the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1984

Other Documents

The following documents were laid before the Parliament on 22 December 2005 and are not subject to any Parliamentary procedure—

The Cairngorms National Park Authority Annual Report and Accounts 2004-05 (SE/2005/267)—

Scottish Natural Heritage Annual Report 2004-05 (SE/2005/268)—

laid under section 22(5) of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000

Committee Reports

The following report was  published on 22 December 2005

Health Committee, 21st Report, 2005 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 479)