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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 14 September 2006

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Health: Shona Robison moved S2M-4784—That the Parliament does not accept the case put forward for the downgrading of the accident and emergency unit at Monklands Hospital and calls on the Scottish Executive to re-examine its decision to approve this downgrading.

Lewis Macdonald moved amendment S2M-4784.2 to motion S2M-4784—

Leave out from “does” to end and insert—

“reaffirms its support for Delivering for Health as the basis for service change in NHS Scotland; commends its commitment to shifting the balance of care to provide more safe and sustainable local services including the separation of scheduled and unscheduled care; notes the commitment of local communities to their health services and natural concerns when long-established services are changed, and remains committed to an NHS Scotland which responds to changes in the demands placed upon it.”

Karen Whitefield moved amendment S2M-4784.3 to motion S2M-4784—

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

“supports the need to modernise our National Health Service as outlined in Delivering for Health; acknowledges the investment and commitment of the Scottish Executive to improve health services across the country, and calls on the Scottish Executive to reverse its decision to approve the downgrading of accident and emergency services at Monklands.”

After debate, amendment S2M-4784.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 54, Abstentions 3). As a result, amendment S2M-4784.3 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 65, Against 45, Abstentions 11).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament reaffirms its support for Delivering for Health as the basis for service change in NHS Scotland; commends its commitment to shifting the balance of care to provide more safe and sustainable local services including the separation of scheduled and unscheduled care; notes the commitment of local communities to their health services and natural concerns when long-established services are changed, and remains committed to an NHS Scotland which responds to changes in the demands placed upon it.

2. Access to Higher Education: Fiona Hyslop moved S2M-4788—That the Parliament recognises the opportunities made available to young people accessing higher education in Scotland and the importance to the Scottish economy of having a highly educated workforce; notes with concern, however, that debt and the fear of debt are having an adverse affect on Scots applying to universities; believes that access to university should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay, and calls for replacement of the current expensive and inefficient student loans system by a fairer grant system and for the problem of student loan graduate debt, which is a drag on the economy, to be addressed.

The Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (Allan Wilson) moved amendment S2M-4788.2 to motion S2M-4788—

Leave out from “recognises” to end and insert—

“applauds the substantial growth of investment and participation in the higher education sector in Scotland in the last seven years, the growing opportunities made available to young people and others wishing to access higher education in Scotland, the increase in participation rates in higher education of those from disadvantaged backgrounds over the same period and the vital importance of having a skilled and highly educated workforce to the Scottish economy; welcomes the facts that 72,000 students have benefited from young student bursaries since the reintroduction of student grants in 2001, that Scottish students have had their fees abolished by the Scottish Executive and that the Executive continues to oppose top-up fees, but notes with concern that the £1.7 billion costs of replacing all student loans with grants and writing off student debt threatens the continued success and expansion of higher education institutions and diverts effort and resources from encouraging wider participation from under-represented groups.”

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S2M-4788.3 to motion S2M-4788—

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

“the growing levels of student debt and bankruptcies among graduates; believes that an extension to the current student loans scheme with larger non-means-tested loans available at low commercial rates of interest would reduce student reliance on unsecured bank overdrafts and credit card borrowings and provide additional funds for higher education, and calls on the Scottish Executive to introduce such a scheme in preference to the current unsatisfactory arrangements and unrealistic and unaffordable proposals to replace loans with grants.”

After debate, amendment S2M-4788.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 67, Against 54, Abstentions 0). As a result, S2M-4788.3 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 67, Against 54, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament applauds the substantial growth of investment and participation in the higher education sector in Scotland in the last seven years, the growing opportunities made available to young people and others wishing to access higher education in Scotland, the increase in participation rates in higher education of those from disadvantaged backgrounds over the same period and the vital importance of having a skilled and highly educated workforce to the Scottish economy; welcomes the facts that 72,000 students have benefited from young student bursaries since the reintroduction of student grants in 2001, that Scottish students have had their fees abolished by the Scottish Executive and that the Executive continues to oppose top-up fees, but notes with concern that the £1.7 billion costs of replacing all student loans with grants and writing off student debt threatens the continued success and expansion of higher education institutions and diverts effort and resources from encouraging wider participation from under-represented groups.

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. Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Bill – Stage 1: The Minister for Justice (Cathy Jamieson) moved S2M-4712—That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Bill.

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

7. Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution: The Deputy Minister for Justice (Hugh Henry) moved S2M-4717—That the Parliament, for the purposes of any Act of the Scottish Parliament resulting from the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Bill, agrees to—

(a) any increase in expenditure of a kind referred to in paragraph 3(b)(i) of Rule 9.12 of theParliament’s Standing Orders, and

(b) any expenditure or increase in expenditure of a kind referred to in paragraph 3(b)(ii) or(iii) of that Rule,

arising in consequence of the Act.

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

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

9. Farmers Weekly’s Local Food is Miles Better Campaign: The Parliament debated S2M-4590 in the name of John Scott—That the Parliament supports the Farmers Weekly’s Local Food is Miles Better campaign; believes that buying locally grown food is an excellent way for consumers to reconnect with farmers and develop a better understanding of where their food comes from; recognises that producing and buying food locally from farmers’ markets and farm shops can help the environment, boost the local economy and restore trust in food production; further recognises that locally produced food is likely to be fresher, healthier and have higher vitamin levels, and considers that all food retail outlets, in Ayrshire and throughout Scotland, should promote, label and stock more locally produced food to cut food miles and carbon emissions in order to protect our environment and support our farmers.

10. Motion without Notice: Mr Mark Ruskell moved without notice that, under Rule 8.14.3, the debate be extended until 6.01 pm. The motion was agreed to.

The meeting closed at 6.01 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
14 September 2006

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

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 14 September and are subject to annulment—

The Race Relations Act 1976 (Statutory Duties) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2006 (SSI 2006/467)

laid under section 74 of the Race Relations Act 1976

The Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2006 (SSI 2006/468)

laid under section 12(6) of the Superannuation Act 1972

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 14 September and is not subject to any Parliamentary procedure

Scottish Prison Service: Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06 (SE/2006/151)

laid under paragraph 5 of Schedule 1 of the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989 and section 22(5) of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000

Committee Reports

The following report was published on 14 September 2006

Enterprise and Culture Committee, 14th Report 2006 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 633)