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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 5 October 2006

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Scotland’s Duty to its Senior Citizens: Miss Annabel Goldie moved S2M-4901—That the Parliament believes that our senior citizens represent a valuable and under-acknowledged repository of skill, wisdom and experience and that they should be both respected and, where the need arises, cared for by both society and government to enable them to live in dignity and security in their old age; is therefore greatly concerned that the council tax has risen by 60% since 1997, resulting in many pensioners struggling to pay their bills, and believes that the Scottish Conservatives’ proposal for a 50% discount for all pensioner households would greatly alleviate the burden; is further concerned that the policy of free personal care, which was supported by all parties in the Parliament, is still not being universally or timeously implemented throughout Scotland, and therefore calls on the Scottish Executive, local authorities and all other relevant agencies to unite in securing the immediate and complete implementation of this policy in Scotland.

Malcolm Chisholm moved amendment S2M-4901.4 to motion S2M-4901—

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

“recognises the enormous contribution that our senior citizens make to Scottish society; supports action to challenge ageism, widen opportunities for older people and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect; acknowledges the improvement to older people’s quality of life through groundbreaking policies such as free personal and nursing care, free bus travel and the central heating programme, and welcomes the continuing commitment of the Scottish Executive to recognising, valuing and supporting Scotland’s older people through the development of its Strategy for a Scotland with an Ageing Population.”

Christine Grahame moved amendment S2M-4901.3 to motion S2M-4901—

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

“expresses concern, therefore, that free personal care is not being delivered equitably, with waiting lists being operated in some regions, and believes that the Scottish Executive must take immediate action to eradicate these practices; also believes that pensioner poverty cannot be tackled without the abolition of the council tax and its substitution by the fairer system of a local income tax; is alarmed at the devastating fuel cost increases which must lead to increasing vulnerability of our older people to cold-related illnesses and early mortality, and, while welcoming legislation to end age discrimination, calls on the Executive to inquire into elder abuse.”

Colin Fox moved amendment S2M-4901.2 to motion S2M-4901—

Leave out from “and that they” to end and insert—

“believes that Scotland’s primary duty to its senior citizens is to lift them out of the poverty and deprivation that so many endure and that the effect of Conservative policies of the 1980s and 1990s, in particular the introduction of the hated council tax and the abandonment of the link between pensions increases and the increase in average earnings, has meant that their standard of living has significantly fallen; therefore calls for the abolition of the council tax, under which many pensioners pay up to 25% of their overall income on one bill, and its replacement with a system based on ability to pay, where the poor and low-paid are exempt and the tax obligation increases as income increases, and further believes that the restoration of the link between average earnings and pensions would ensure that Scotland’s senior citizens do not continue to fall behind the rest of the population and secure the right to live in dignity in retirement.”

John Swinburne moved amendment S2M-4901.1 to motion S2M-4901—

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

“and that the Scottish Executive should immediately take action to increase the income of every pensioner household in Scotland in a legal manner which is entirely compliant with the provisions of the Scotland Act 1998 and thereby follow up on that excellent social experiment by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown MP, in 2005 which should result in the first drop in winter-related deaths in Scotland in recent years.”

After debate, amendment S2M-4901.4 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 42, Abstentions 7). As a result, amendments S2M-4901.3, S2M-4901.2 and S2M-4901.1 were pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 40, Abstentions 11).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises the enormous contribution that our senior citizens make to Scottish society; supports action to challenge ageism, widen opportunities for older people and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect; acknowledges the improvement to older people’s quality of life through groundbreaking policies such as free personal and nursing care, free bus travel and the central heating programme, and welcomes the continuing commitment of the Scottish Executive to recognising, valuing and supporting Scotland’s older people through the development of its Strategy for a Scotland with an Ageing Population.

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

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

4. Themed Question Time: Questions on Finance and Public Services and Communities, and on Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport were answered by Scottish Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

5. Procedures Committee – Motions and decisions and Consultation Report on Parliamentary Time: Donald Gorrie moved S2M-4870—That the Parliament notes the Procedures Committee’s 4th Report 2006, (Session 2), Motions and decisions (SP Paper 589) and agrees that the changes to Standing Orders set out in Annexe A to the report be made with effect from 6 October 2006.

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

The Parliament also debated the Procedures Committee’s 5th Report 2006, Consultation Report on Parliamentary Time.

6. Law Officers: The First Minister moved S2M-4924—That the Parliament agrees that it be recommended to Her Majesty that Elish Angiolini be appointed as the Lord Advocate and that John Beckett QC be appointed as Solicitor General for Scotland.

Miss Annabel Goldie moved amendment S2M-4924.1 to motion S2M-4924—

Leave out from “and that” to end.

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 15, Against 97, Abstentions 3).

The motion was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 99, Against 0, Abstentions 15).

7. Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill - UK Legislation: The Deputy Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform (George Lyon) moved S2M-4887—That the Parliament agrees that the relevant provisions in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill introduced in the House of Commons on 11 January 2006, that relate to the implementation of European Union obligations and which are within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, or which confer executive powers on the Scottish Ministers, should be considered by the UK Parliament.

After debate, the motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 102, Against 5, Abstentions 7).

8. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 1, 5 and 7 as noted above.

9. Knife Crime Education: The Parliament debated S2M-4708 in the name of Alex Johnstone—That the Parliament encourages all efforts to reduce knife crime; notes that educational programmes and courses on the dangers of carrying a knife have been shown to have been successful in the past, and congratulates Mr Mark Davies from Angus on using his experiences as a door supervisor and martial artist to put together a new course which educates our young people on the dangers and possible consequences of carrying a knife.

The meeting closed at 5.39 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
5 October 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 5 October 2006 and are subject to annulment—

The Land Registration (Scotland) Rules 2006 (SSI 2006/485)

laid under section 27(2) of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979

The Inshore Fishing (Prohibition of Fishing for Cockles) (Scotland) (No. 3) Order 2006 (SSI 2006/487)

laid under section 9(2) of the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984

Other Documents

The following documents were laid before the Parliament on 5 October 2006 and are not subject to any Parliamentary procedure

Social Work Inspection Agency Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06 (SE/2006/160)—

Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland Annual Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2006 (SE/2006/174)—

Grampian Health Board (commonly known as NHS Grampian) Accounts 2005-06 (SE/2006/175)—

NHS National Services Scotland Annual Accounts and Annual Report for the year ended 31 March 2006 (SE/2006/176)—

NHS Lothian Annual Accounts and Notes for the year ended 31 March 2006 (SE/2006/177)—

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

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 5 October 2006—

Enterprise and Culture Committee, 16th Report, 2006 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 648)

Environment and Rural Development Committee, 13th Report, 2006 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 649)

Communities Committee, 11th Report, 2006 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 650)