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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 1 February 2007

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Green Procurement: Patrick Harvie moved S2M-5494—That the Parliament notes the transposition into Scots Law of the European public procurement directive (2004/18/EEC) in January 2006 and, in particular, notes the directive’s clarification that public bodies may legitimately specify social and environmental criteria in their procurement contracts; welcomes the publication by the European Commission of Buying Green!: A Handbook on Environmental Public Procurement but regrets that Scottish-specific guidance on the matter is not currently available, and calls on the Scottish Executive to make social and environmental criteria mandatory in all public contracts and to issue guidance to all local authorities and public bodies to enable them to meet these requirements.

The Deputy Minister for Finance, Public Service Reform and Parliamentary Business (George Lyon) moved amendment S2M-5494.4 to motion S2M-5494—

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

“recognises the Scottish Executive’s record on sustainable/green procurement; notes that Scottish-specific guidance on sustainable procurement for public sector buyers and sellers is available on the Executive’s website; notes that the Executive has issued best practice guidance on sustainable procurement, including a contribution to the Best Value toolkits, to local authorities and public bodies, and welcomes the contribution which public procurement has made, and will continue to make, to the achievement of the partnership commitments to a successful, sustainable Scotland.”

Richard Lochhead moved amendment S2M-5494.3 to motion S2M-5494—

Insert at end—

“and further calls on the Executive to report to the Parliament, prior to dissolution, providing details of any measures taken, and their results, in response to the call made by the Environment and Rural Development Committee in its report published in May 2005 for public procurement to be used to tackle climate change.”

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S2M-5494.2 to motion S2M-5494—

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

“further regrets that, whilst there are some good examples of local food procurement in Scotland, as the Environment and Rural Development Committee’s 8th Report (2006) notes, “there is no sense that the Executive has a robust strategy for rolling this out”; further regrets the bureaucratic hurdles faced, especially by small and social firms, in tendering for public contracts, and therefore calls on the Scottish Executive to establish a dedicated procurement unit to act as a single point of entry for the public sector and to be tasked with taking forward ways of procuring local produce without contravening European law.”

After debate, amendment S2M-5494.4 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 57, Against 49, Abstentions 1). As a result, amendment S2M-5494.2 was pre-empted. Amendment S2M-5494.3 was then disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 33, Against 72, Abstentions 2).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 47, Abstentions 2).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises the Scottish Executive’s record on sustainable/green procurement; notes that Scottish-specific guidance on sustainable procurement for public sector buyers and sellers is available on the Executive’s website; notes that the Executive has issued best practice guidance on sustainable procurement, including a contribution to the Best Value toolkits, to local authorities and public bodies, and welcomes the contribution which public procurement has made, and will continue to make, to the achievement of the partnership commitments to a successful, sustainable Scotland.

2. Scottish Water: Mark Ruskell moved S2M-5510—That the Parliament notes growing pressure for Scottish Water to be privatised; further notes the substantial improvements that have been made in Scottish Water’s performance, all of this having been achieved while keeping Scottish Water in the public sector; notes the Water Industry Commission’s lack of a wider social and environmental remit and its use of a regulatory model more suited to a private utility than to a public one; considers that improving the service, upgrading the water and sewerage system, reducing leakages and ensuring effective regulation should not centre on short-term efficiency measures but on the quality and safe delivery of services in the long term, and affirms its commitment to keeping Scottish Water under public ownership and control.

The Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development (Sarah Boyack) moved amendment S2M-5510.2 to motion S2M-5510—

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

“welcomes the substantial improvements that have been made in Scottish Water’s performance, all of this having been achieved while keeping Scottish Water in the public sector; recognises that the objectives set by ministers for 2006-14, which properly recognise the social and environmental priorities of the Scottish Executive, will not only deliver further improvements in drinking water quality, environmental protection, and customer service but also relieve development constraints, upgrade the water and sewerage system and reduce leakages; recognises that the role of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland is to assess the lowest reasonable overall costs of delivering the objectives that ministers have specified, taking account of appropriate external benchmarks, and affirms that Scottish Water operating in the current regulatory framework will go on to deliver further improvements in this vital public service.”

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S2M-5510.1 to motion S2M-5510—

Leave out from “further notes” to end and insert—

“believes that Scottish Water is failing its customers because it is inefficient, misallocates resources, overcharges customers, particularly businesses which were overcharged by £44 million every year, and holds back much-needed development; further believes that Scottish Water must be removed from state control and transferred into a “not-for-dividend” organisation in line with Welsh Water, and considers that this would enable Scottish customers to benefit from the lower costs and higher levels of service enjoyed by their counterparts south of the Border.”

After debate, amendment S2M-5510.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 48, Abstentions 1). As a result, amendment S2M-5510.1 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 57, Against 48, Abstentions 1).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament welcomes the substantial improvements that have been made in Scottish Water’s performance, all of this having been achieved while keeping Scottish Water in the public sector; recognises that the objectives set by ministers for 2006-14, which properly recognise the social and environmental priorities of the Scottish Executive, will not only deliver further improvements in drinking water quality, environmental protection, and customer service but also relieve development constraints, upgrade the water and sewerage system and reduce leakages; recognises that the role of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland is to assess the lowest reasonable overall costs of delivering the objectives that ministers have specified, taking account of appropriate external benchmarks, and affirms that Scottish Water operating in the current regulatory framework will go on to deliver further improvements in this vital public service.

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 Health and Community Care and on Environment and Rural Development were answered by Scottish Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers.

6. Rights of Relatives to Damages (Mesothelioma) (Scotland) Bill – Stage 1: The Minister for Justice (Cathy Jamieson) moved S2M-5360—That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Rights of Relatives to Damages (Mesothelioma) (Scotland) Bill.

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

7. Statistics and Registration Service Bill - UK Legislation: The Minister for Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform (Mr Tom McCabe) moved S2M-5467—That the Parliament agrees that the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 21 November 2006, which relate to statistics in Scotland and which are within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament or which confer functions on the Scottish Ministers, should be considered by the UK Parliament.

After debate, the motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 57, Against 36, Abstentions 14).

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

9. Cervical Cancer and the HPV Vaccine: The Parliament debated S2M-5359 in the name of Kenneth Macintosh—That the Parliament welcomes the licensing of the first vaccine against strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV) responsible for around 70% of cases of cervical cancer; expresses its concern that, despite a 40-year history of cervical screening in the United Kingdom, almost 3,000 women are diagnosed and 1,000 women still die of cervical cancer each year in the UK; recognises that the vaccine will not prevent all cases of cervical cancer and that it is not known whether it will prevent cancer in women already infected with HPV; therefore believes that the cervical cancer screening programme should be continued and that further action should be taken to increase the take-up of screening in more deprived areas, among ethnic minority groups and among women with learning difficulties; further believes that this will improve early detection and allow earlier treatment of this disease; recognises the role of charities such as Jo’s Trust, Cancerbackup and Cancer Research UK, amongst others, in supporting patients with cervical cancer and their families and in counselling the thousands more women who worry about their health following an abnormal smear result; recognises the huge potential benefits to be had through vaccination in East Renfrewshire and throughout Scotland from reducing the incidence of cervical cancer, reducing the number of colposcopies, reducing the number of abnormal smears and reducing the number of people requiring treatment for genital warts; further recognises the success of the Scottish Executive in its public health campaigns and cancer prevention strategies, and considers that ministers should put in place measures to raise awareness and to prepare for a vaccination programme.

The meeting closed at 5.44 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
1 February 2007

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

New Bills introduced or reprinted on 31 January 2007

Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill—The Bill was reprinted as amended at Stage 2. (SP Bill 67A) (Executive Bill)

Subordinate Legislation

Affirmative Instruments

The following instrument was laid in draft before the Parliament on 1 February 2007 for approval by resolution

The Mental Health (Safety and Security) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2007

laid under section 326(4)(c) of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003

Negative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 1 February 2007 and is subject to annulment

The Sex Discrimination (Public Authorities) (Statutory Duties) (Scotland) Order 2007 (SSI 2007/32)

laid under section 76C(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Committee Reports

The following report was published on 1 February 2007

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 7th Report, 2007 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 731)