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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 20 April 2006

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Statutory Right to Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation: Ms Rosemary Byrne moved S2M-4252—That the Parliament notes the continuing social and human cost of drug misuse across Scotland and that past and current policy approaches have failed communities, drug users and their families miserably; regrets the fact that drug-related crime, premature death and family breakdowns continue to rise; believes that the predominant criminal justice-oriented approach to drug-misuse problems in Scotland is not only failing to address the problems but is actually counter-productive in diverting resources and attention away from treatment and rehabilitation; further believes that a predominantly social and health-led approach is now necessary and that a statutory right to a holistic treatment and care plan should be established within a seven-day period of seeking help and should include residential care where required; considers that the introduction of such a statutory right would not only lead to improved care for users and their families, but result in significant crime reduction within communities and subsequent net savings to the public purse; further considers that cannabis use in Scotland should be decriminalised but not encouraged, that debate on the legal status of other drugs must be promoted and that substitute prescription programmes, such as the provision of heroin or buprenorphine for treatment of appropriate users, should be introduced and supported across Scotland, and believes that significant investment in community and sporting facilities to tackle poverty and offer positive recreational activities to Scotland’s young people is an essential but under-invested element of anti-drug abuse strategy.
The Deputy Minister for Justice (Hugh Henry) moved amendment S2M-4252.4 to motion S2M-4252—

Leave out from “notes” to end and insert—

“recognises that drug abuse destroys lives and tears families apart; believes that improved treatment and rehabilitation should be at the heart of our approach; further believes that there is need to help addicts to move towards a drug-free lifestyle by offering a range of interventions; welcomes the progress made but recognises that more needs to be done, particularly to make sure that treatment is linked to further support, and believes that early intervention is the most effective way of helping offenders and reducing drug-related crime.”

Stewart Stevenson moved amendment S2M-4252.3 to motion S2M-4252—

Leave out from “the continuing” to end and insert—

“that the cost to communities, drug addicts and their families, and the public purse of drug misuse remains unacceptably high; believes that a range of interventions must be available to addicts across Scotland that are tailored to their individual needs; encourages the Scottish Executive to give further support to efforts to recover assets from drug barons; recognises that drug abuse is primarily a health issue but that intervention from the criminal justice system will often be the first opportunity for users to start on the road to recovery, and, in the absence of any compelling evidence, does not believe that any relaxation of the rules on drug misuse would do other than exacerbate current problems.”

Miss Annabel Goldie moved amendment S2M-4252.1 to motion S2M-4252—

Leave out from “the predominant” to end and insert—

“we need a drugs strategy which aims to reduce and ultimately eliminate drugs dependency in Scotland and that such a strategy should place an emphasis on early intervention and include a coherent education programme which prioritises abstinence, and further believes that there needs to be a radical change in the help offered to drug addicts, to provide counselling and rehabilitation rather than an over-reliance on methadone.”

Margo MacDonald moved amendment S2M-4252.2 to motion S2M-4252—

Leave out from “notes” to end and insert—

“regrets the continuing economic and social cost of alcohol and drug abuse across Scotland and calls on the Scottish Executive to establish a commission of investigation into such misuse.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 79, Against 6, Abstentions 19).  As a result, amendments S2M-4252.3, S2M-4252.1 and S2M-4252.2 were pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to (DT).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises that drug abuse destroys lives and tears families apart; believes that improved treatment and rehabilitation should be at the heart of our approach; further believes that there is need to help addicts to move towards a drug-free lifestyle by offering a range of interventions; welcomes the progress made but recognises that more needs to be done, particularly to make sure that treatment is linked to further support, and believes that early intervention is the most effective way of helping offenders and reducing drug-related crime.

2. Local Government Pensions: Colin Fox moved S2M-4253—That the Parliament notes with concern the Scottish Executive’s announcement on 17 January 2006 to abolish the Rule of 85 for members of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) in Scotland; recognises that the proposed changes will have a detrimental impact on many working people who support vital public services, often on low wages, in a wide range of occupations in Scotland, including workers in local government, the Environment Agency, police support, cleaning and waste companies, the voluntary sector, bus companies, higher education and others; notes that this decision means that LGPS members are denied the same rights and protections as members of other public sector pension schemes which have agreed to allow retirement at the age of 60 on a full pension; further notes recent comments made by EU Commissioners on this issue indicating that changes to the Rule of 85 would not necessarily be a requirement under EU legislation and previous assurances given to COSLA and the relevant trade unions that the Rule of 85 for members of the LGPS in Scotland would be retained; recognises that members of the LGPS contribute to the scheme and want to ensure that there is a viable and sustainable future for it; further recognises that the financial standing of Scotland’s LGPS is significantly healthier than schemes elsewhere in the UK and therefore calls for a distinctive approach, and further calls on the Executive to review and publish its legal advice regarding the Rule of 85 and to work with trade unions and COSLA to find a settlement which protects local government workers’ pension rights.

The Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform (Mr Tom McCabe) moved amendment S2M-4253.1 to motion S2M-4253—

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

“the current issues surrounding the future of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS); recognises that these issues will impact on a wide range of public sector workers; recognises that members of the LGPS contribute to this scheme and want to ensure that there is a viable and sustainable future for it; notes that the correct manner for dealing with the consequences of any changes to the LGPS, or any disagreement in legal opinion in respect of it, is through open and fair discussion with trade unions, employers and the Scottish Public Pensions Agency, and therefore welcomes the decision of the trade unions to suspend strike action as a result of the constructive dialogue which is currently taking place.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 74, Against 26, Abstentions 3).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 90, Against 2, Abstentions 11).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes the current issues surrounding the future of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS); recognises that these issues will impact on a wide range of public sector workers; recognises that members of the LGPS contribute to this scheme and want to ensure that there is a viable and sustainable future for it; notes that the correct manner for dealing with the consequences of any changes to the LGPS, or any disagreement in legal opinion in respect of it, is through open and fair discussion with trade unions, employers and the Scottish Public Pensions Agency, and therefore welcomes the decision of the trade unions to suspend strike action as a result of the constructive dialogue which is currently taking place.

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 Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport, and on Finance and Public Services and Communities were answered by Scottish Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

6. Civil Justice: The Minister for Justice (Cathy Jamieson) moved S2M-4255—That the Parliament recognises that an effective and efficient civil justice system is a crucial part of the foundations of a peaceful and prosperous society and welcomes the commitment to undertake a programme of work to modernise civil law.

Mr Kenny MacAskill moved amendment S2M-4255.1 to motion S2M-4255—

Insert at end—

“and further notes that such a system, whilst being quick, efficient and just, must also be affordable and accessible to the ordinary citizen.”

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

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to (DT).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises that an effective and efficient civil justice system is a crucial part of the foundations of a peaceful and prosperous society and welcomes the commitment to undertake a programme of work to modernise civil law and further notes that such a system, whilst being quick, efficient and just, must also be affordable and accessible to the ordinary citizen.

7. Membership of Committees: Ms Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved—

S2M-4259—That the Parliament agrees that Bruce Crawford be appointed to the European and External Relations Committee;

S2M-4260—That the Parliament agrees that Ms Maureen Watt be appointed to replace Bruce Crawford on the Local Government and Transport Committee;

S2M-4261—That the Parliament agrees that Euan Robson be appointed to replace Mike Rumbles on the Health Committee; and

S2M-4262—That the Parliament agrees that Mr David Petrie be appointed to the Communities Committee.

The motions were agreed to (DT).

8. Substitution on Committees: Ms Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S2M-4258—That the Parliament agrees that Ms Maureen Watt be appointed to replace Stewart Stevenson as the Scottish National Party substitute on the Subordinate Legislation Committee.

The motion was agreed to (DT).

9. Rule 2.7.2: Ms Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S2M-4254—That the Parliament agrees under Rule 2.7.2 that the Parliament shall meet in Committee Rooms 2 and 6 of the Parliament at Holyrood as recommended by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body until 12 May 2006.

The motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 96, Against 7, Abstentions 1).

10. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8 as noted above.

11. The Future Provision of Emergency and Unscheduled Care Services in Ayrshire and Arran: The Parliament debated S2M-4008 in the name of John Scott—That the Parliament notes the public consultation on the future provision of emergency and unscheduled care in Ayrshire, which closed in December 2005; expresses concern that this consultation only included options to downgrade the existing accident and emergency unit at Ayr Hospital, and expects NHS Ayrshire and Arran to abide by the spirit of the report, Building a Health Service Fit for the Future, by Professor David Kerr by listening to the views of both the public and health professionals in Ayrshire and taking full account of these views before reaching a decision on the future of accident and emergency care provision in the county.

The meeting closed at 5.46 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
20 April 2006

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

New Bills introduced or reprinted on 18 April 2006

Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill—The Bill was reprinted as amended at Stage 2. (SP Bill 46A) (Executive Bill)

New Bills introduced or reprinted on 19 April 2006

Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill—The Bill was reprinted as amended at Stage 2. (SP Bill 45A) (Executive Bill)

Subordinate Legislation

Affirmative Instruments

The following instruments were laid in draft before the Parliament on 20 April 2006 for approval by resolution—

The Joint Inspections (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2006

laid under section 6(4) of the Joint Inspection of Children’s Services and Inspection of Social Work Services (Scotland) Act 2006

The Private Water Supplies (Notices) (Scotland) Regulations 2006

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

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 20 April 2006 and are subject to annulment—

The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (SSI 2006/209)

laid under section 101 of the Water (Scotland) Act 1980 and paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 2 to the European Communities Act 1972

The Private Water Supplies (Grants) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (SSI 2006/210)

laid under section 47(5) of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 20 April 2006—

Justice 2 Committee, 5th Report, 2006 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 540)
           
Subordinate Legislation Committee, 16th Report, 2006 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 541)