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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 9 November 2006

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Housing Stock Transfer: Frances Curran moved S2M-5104—That the Parliament calls on the Scottish Executive to embark on a programme of council house building; believes that the chronic shortage of affordable new homes has led to a huge increase in house prices in Scotland; notes that the average cost of a new home is now £130,000 and thus excludes more than one third of Scots from owning their own homes; demands that the UK Treasury releases the funds already identified to provide the necessary social housing that local circumstances demand; believes that tenants across Scotland have repeatedly rejected housing stock transfer, seeing it as plain and simple privatisation; believes in the fullest democratic control and management of council homes by tenants; welcomes the decision of Midlothian Council to build 1,000 new houses; calls on the tenants of both Highland and Inverclyde councils to follow the example of council tenants in Edinburgh, Stirling and Renfrewshire and reject privatisation of their housing stock; believes that the promises made to Glasgow tenants by Glasgow Housing Association have not been kept, and believes that stock transfer, the Executive’s flagship housing policy, is now in tatters.

The Deputy Minister for Communities (Johann Lamont) moved amendment S2M-5104.4 to motion S2M-5104—

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

“commends the initiatives by the Scottish Executive to increase the quantity of affordable housing in Scotland through its increased investment programme, which will deliver over 16,500 new affordable homes for rent and nearly 5,000 for low-cost home ownership by 2008, and through its Homestake low-cost home ownership scheme and its use of the planning system to increase supply; supports the principle of housing transfer to community ownership to improve the quality of existing housing where this has the support of the tenants; agrees that transfer has the potential to deliver a substantial package of benefits for tenants, including increased investment in their homes, rent guarantees and a much greater say in how their homes are managed, and recognises that transfer is indeed now delivering substantial new investment for tenants, as confirmed by Audit Scotland.”

Tricia Marwick moved amendment S2M-5104.2 to motion S2M-5104—

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

“recognises the failure of the Scottish Executive to adequately fund Scottish housing and its refusal to consider any other funding options than large-scale voluntary transfer; deplores the lack of real choice offered to Scottish tenants; condemns the Executive’s failure to deliver the promise of second-stage transfer to the tenants of Glasgow Housing Association, and calls on the Minister for Communities to make immediate representations to the UK Treasury for the write-off of local authorities’ capital housing debt without preconditions.”

Bill Aitken moved amendment S2M-5104.1 to motion S2M-5104—

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

“supports the transfer of local government housing to communities run by locally accountable housing associations, co-operatives and companies and notes the recent Audit Scotland report which concluded that the handover of more than 100,000 council homes to new landlords since 1998 has brought more investment in properties and promoted tenant control as well as facilitating increased repairs and maintenance and the building of new homes and keeping rent increases down; therefore urges all tenants to seriously consider voting for the stock transfer of their homes, but notes, however, that the Scottish Executive now needs to address urgently the issues preventing the second stage transfer in Glasgow and to publish what it and the City of Edinburgh Council now plan to do for the future of Edinburgh’s housing stock, with a view to assisting in future investment for vital affordable housing.”

After debate, amendment S2M-5104.4 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 44, Abstentions 7).  As a result, amendments S2M-5104.2 and S2M-5104.1 were pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 45, Abstentions 8).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament commends the initiatives by the Scottish Executive to increase the quantity of affordable housing in Scotland through its increased investment programme, which will deliver over 16,500 new affordable homes for rent and nearly 5,000 for low-cost home ownership by 2008, and through its Homestake low-cost home ownership scheme and its use of the planning system to increase supply; supports the principle of housing transfer to community ownership to improve the quality of existing housing where this has the support of the tenants; agrees that transfer has the potential to deliver a substantial package of benefits for tenants, including increased investment in their homes, rent guarantees and a much greater say in how their homes are managed, and recognises that transfer is indeed now delivering substantial new investment for tenants, as confirmed by Audit Scotland.

2. Funding Equal Pay: Carolyn Leckie moved S2M-5105—That the Parliament believes that the Scottish Executive has a responsibility, which includes the allocation of appropriate funding to assist local authorities, in agreement with the trade unions, to achieve equal pay and maintain public services.

The Deputy Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform and Parliamentary Business (George Lyon) moved amendment S2M-5105.4 to motion S2M-5105—

Leave out from “believes” to end and insert—

“recognises that closing the equal pay gap will benefit all Scots, Scotland’s workplaces and Scotland’s economy; agrees that it is the responsibility of local authorities as independent bodies to implement the single status pay agreement which they themselves negotiated, and encourages employers and unions to make every effort to reach an agreement that is fair and equitable and protects the staff concerned, council taxpayers and the services that local authorities deliver.”

Mr John Swinney moved amendment S2M-5105.1 to motion S2M-5105—

Leave out from “believes” to end and insert—

“calls on the Scottish Executive to facilitate discussions between COSLA, local authorities and trade unions to deliver a fair and speedy resolution to the equal pay and single status issue and to ensure that the implications of such agreement are reflected in the 2007-08 local authority financial settlement.”

Derek Brownlee moved amendment S2M-5105.2 to motion S2M-5105—

Leave out from “believes” to end and insert—

“supports the principles of the Equal Pay Act 1970; condemns the failure of local authorities and trades unions to reach agreement on the implementation of single status; recognises the importance of protecting taxpayers at all levels from the consequences of this failure, and calls on the Scottish Executive to exert pressure on local authorities and trades unions to reach an agreement fair to employees and taxpayers.”

After debate, amendment S2M-5105.4 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 65, Against 36, Abstentions 15).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 81, Against 35, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises that closing the equal pay gap will benefit all Scots, Scotland’s workplaces and Scotland’s economy; agrees that it is the responsibility of local authorities as independent bodies to implement the single status pay agreement which they themselves negotiated, and encourages employers and unions to make every effort to reach an agreement that is fair and equitable and protects the staff concerned, council taxpayers and the services that local authorities deliver.

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 Communities were answered by Scottish Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

6. Violence Against Women: The Minister for Communities (Malcolm Chisholm) moved S2M-5109—That the Parliament is pleased to reaffirm its commitment to the cause of ending violence against women; supports the 16th year of the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign and its focus this year on activists; pays tribute to the many paid and unpaid women across Scotland, for example at the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline, local women’s aid groups, rape crisis centres and other voluntary sector projects, who have given their time, energy and commitment over the years to raising the profile of domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault and other forms of male violence against women, as well as offering support to those who experience it; congratulates both Scottish Women’s Aid and Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre on reaching their 30th anniversaries; welcomes the progress made over the last 30 years including recent developments which recognise the impacts that domestic abuse has on children, and supports the Scottish Executive in its efforts to tackle violence against women in all its forms.

Christine Grahame moved amendment S2M-5109.2 to motion S2M-5109—

Insert at end—

“notes that in 2004-05 there were only 234 refuge places in Scotland and calls on the Executive to provide increased funding to support additional places which will also take into account rurality and remoteness, and further calls on the Executive to review the operation of the Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001.”

After debate, the amendment was, with the agreement of the Parliament, withdrawn.

Carolyn Leckie moved amendment S2M-5109.1 to motion S2M-5109—

Insert at end—

“and, in so doing, expresses continuing concern at the despairingly low conviction rates for rape and sexual offences and the continuing humiliation that the majority of women complainants face through the courts allowing examination of victims’ sexual history and character, and believes that the efforts of the Executive to address male violence against women must be supported by effective change in the criminal justice system.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 15, Against 78, Abstentions 23).

The motion was then agreed to (DT).

7. Education Committee, Draft National Plan for Gaelic: Iain Smith, on behalf of the Education Committee, moved S2M-5093—That the Parliament notes the contents of the Education Committee’s 11th Report, 2006 (Session 2): Draft National Plan for Gaelic (SP Paper 657).

The motion was agreed to (DT).

8. Local Government and Transport Committee, Provision of Rail Passenger Services (Scotland) Bill: Bristow Muldoon, on behalf of the Local Government and Transport Committee, moved S2M-5018—That the Parliament does not agree to the general principles of the Provision of Rail Passenger Services (Scotland) Bill.

After debate, the motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 99, Against 16, Abstentions 0).

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

10. Scotland’s Historical Places and Artefacts: The Parliament debated S2M-5027 in the name of Christine May—That the Parliament recognises the support given by the Scottish Executive to conserve Scotland’s heritage; believes that a knowledge of the buildings, monuments, historic sites and ancient artefacts in Scotland contributes to our knowledge of ourselves as a nation; welcomes the recent announcements on funding to protect ancient battlefields and historic buildings and to support local projects; further welcomes the statutory protection given to listed buildings and ancient monuments; considers that the voluntary register of historic sites maintained by most local authorities is a welcome source of information on Scotland’s history and peoples; congratulates the Council for Scottish Archaeology and national, local authority and community historical, archaeological and museum groups which work tirelessly to research, identify and conserve places such as the Henge at Balfarg in Glenrothes and the Bronze Age burial cist at Sillerhole in Leven and display artefacts in both national and local museums such as Lower Methil Heritage Centre; believes that opportunities exist to give further protection through legislative measures; welcomes the offer by the Deputy Minister for Communities to discuss such opportunities in the context of the current planning Bill, and believes that all MSPs and ministers should consider what further support can be given to protect Scotland’s historical places and artefacts.

The meeting closed at 5.51 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
1 November 2006

Appendix

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

New Bills introduced or reprinted on 8 November 2006

Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill—The Bill was reprinted as amended at Stage 2. (SP Bill 61A) (Executive Bill)

Subordinate Legislation

Affirmative Instruments

The following instrument was laid in draft before the Parliament on 9 November 2006 for approval by resolution

The Bus User Complaints Tribunal Regulations Revocation Regulations 2006

laid under section 81(4) of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 9 November 2006 and are subject to annulment—

Act of Sederunt (Fees of Sheriff Officers) 2006 (SSI 2006/539)

laid under section 40 of the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act 1907 and section 6 of the Execution of Diligence (Scotland) Act 1926

The Waste Management Licensing Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (SSI 2006/541)—

The Rice Products (Restriction on First Placing on the Market) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (SSI 2006/542)—

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

Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

The following report was published on 9 November 2006

Scottish Commission for Public Audit, 1st Report, 2006 (Session 2): Audit Scotland’s Expenditure Proposals 2007-2008 (SP Paper 663)

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 9 November 2006—

Local Government and Transport Committee, 14th Report, 2006 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 664)

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 39th Report, 2006 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 665)