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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 22 March 2007

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Scotland in the United Kingdom: The Minister for Parliamentary Business (Ms Margaret Curran) moved S2M-5779—That the Parliament believes that the United Kingdom is a mutually beneficial relationship for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England; notes that devolution “is a process, not an event”; notes the additional powers that have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament since 1999; notes that the majority of people in Scotland oppose separation from the rest of the UK; believes that such a course would result in either cuts in vital public services or massive increases in taxation; believes that Scotland should retain the benefits of being part of the UK; and notes the respective positions of the Labour and the Liberal Democrat parties on the powers of the Parliament.

Alasdair Morgan moved amendment S2M-5779.2 to motion S2M-5779—

Leave out from “United Kingdom” to end and insert—

“current constitutional arrangements do not offer the right solutions to the challenges facing Scotland, that the natural state of independence, enjoyed by our most successful neighbours, offers the best opportunities for Scotland and that the people of Scotland should have an opportunity in a referendum within the next four years to make their own decision on whether or not Scotland should be independent.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 31, Against 77, Abstentions 5).

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S2M-5779.3 to motion S2M-5779—

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

“whilst, where appropriate, increasing the powers available to the Scottish Parliament.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 24, Against 64, Abstentions 25).

Patrick Harvie moved amendment S2M-5779.4 to motion S2M-5779—

Leave out from “the United Kingdom” to end and insert—

“all political parties receive electoral support from people with a range of views on the constitution; considers therefore that the constitutional future of Scotland is a matter best decided by the people of Scotland through a referendum; believes that, regardless of the constitutional future chosen by the people of Scotland, there is a strong case for devolving power from government to local communities throughout Scotland, and considers that government in Scotland, whether under the current devolved arrangements or in an independent future, can do far more to empower communities than has been done to date.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 33, Against 77, Abstentions 3).

Colin Fox moved amendment S2M-5779.1 to motion S2M-5779—

Leave out from “is a mutually beneficial relationship” to end and insert—

“thwarts Scotland’s economic, social, cultural and political development; believes that Scotland would be better off if it were independent from the UK; believes that an independent Scotland would remove Trident nuclear weapons from the Clyde, scrap the hated council tax and prescription charges and redistribute the great wealth of Scotland to address widening inequalities and would never have agreed to send Scottish soldiers to fight a war in Iraq that is considered by many to be illegal; believes that Scots have the same democratic rights to self-determination as the people of any other country, and looks forward to a Scotland that is independent, socially just and internationalist in its outlook.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 35, Against 76, Abstentions 1).

The motion was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 51, Abstentions 3).

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. Crichton Campus and the University of Glasgow: The Parliament debated S2M-5726 in the name of Alasdair Morgan—That the Parliament welcomes the work to develop an academic strategy for higher and further education in Dumfries and Galloway but, conscious that the failure of the University of Glasgow to recruit an intake of new undergraduates at the Crichton Campus in Dumfries this year may prejudge the outcome of that strategy, considers that the Scottish Executive should take all necessary steps to ensure that recruitment is resumed for the current year.

5. Themed Question Time: Questions on Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning, and on Justice and Law Officers were answered by Scottish Ministers and junior Scottish Ministers and by the Scottish Law Officers.

6. Celebrating Success in Scottish Education: The Minister for Education and Young People (Hugh Henry) moved S2M-5775—That the Parliament notes the commitment shown by the Scottish Executive and its partners to the most comprehensive programme of modernisation of Scottish education for a generation; recognises that the Executive’s investment in over 320 new and refurbished schools, increased teacher numbers, a world-leading induction scheme, reduced class sizes, strong parental involvement and stable industrial relations has rebuilt the foundations of a successful school system; welcomes the significant increase in pre-school education entitlement that has been delivered since 1999; further welcomes the high quality of leadership in Scotland’s schools and congratulates the 973 teachers who have achieved the Scottish Qualification for Headship; welcomes the Executive’s investment in Scotland’s 49 Schools of Ambition, and congratulates staff, teachers and pupils in schools and centres across Scotland for the contribution they are making to the delivery of excellent learning and teaching.

Fiona Hyslop moved amendment S2M-5775.3 to motion S2M-5775—

Leave out from “notes” to end and insert—

“congratulates staff, teachers and pupils in schools and centres across Scotland for the contribution that they are making to the delivery of excellent learning and teaching; recognises that it is the duty of government to provide stewardship to drive standards forward, providing leadership and direction for a strong Scottish education system for the purpose of self-improvement and a healthier, wealthier and socially and environmentally more responsible Scotland, and notes that the following can all contribute to this aim: early intervention to increase nursery provision and identify and serve additional support needs at an early stage, cutting class sizes in primary 1-3 to 18 and maintaining teacher numbers in the face of falling school rolls to cut class sizes in secondary so that every child gets the attention they deserve and to ensure that essential literacy and numeracy skills are developed, embedding Scottish history, culture and heritage in school life, offering vocational courses from S3 onwards with parity of esteem for academic courses, introducing a new languages and science baccalaureate recognising top performance at Higher level to encourage take-up of these subjects, focussing on support for those pupils particularly from families living in poverty who are currently left behind in society and continuing the planned school building and refurbishment programme but providing councils with an alternative funding scheme to provide better value for money and access to communities and clubs to schools at evenings and weekends.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 25, Against 78, Abstentions 10).

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton moved amendment S2M-5775.1 to motion S2M-5775—

Leave out from “notes” to end and insert—

“supports giving top priority to ensuring that our education system enables every child to find fulfilment according to his or her ability, aptitude and inclination; believes that head teachers should have greater freedom to make decisions relating to their schools, in co-operation with parents and pupils, and further believes that particular areas for giving greater control include budgets, permanent exclusions, wearing of uniforms, setting, and the continuing professional development of teachers in their schools.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 18, Against 87, Abstentions 8).

The motion was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 61, Against 43, Abstentions 9).

7. Business Motion: Ms Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S2M-5781—That the Parliament agrees the following revision to the programme of business for Wednesday 28 March 2007—

after,

followed by Final Stage: Airdrie-Bathgate Railway and Linked Improvements Bill

insert,

followed by SPCB Motion on the Reappointment of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

The motion was agreed to.

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

9. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: The Parliament debated S2M-5521 in the name of Dr Sylvia Jackson—That the Parliament expresses concern that people who suffer from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a severe and progressive genetic muscle wasting disease predominantly affecting boys and for which there is currently no cure, are dying in Scotland on average 10 years earlier then their counterparts in England; believes that an improvement in the life expectancy and experiences of these young people must be a priority for the Scottish Executive; considers that, in addition to enhanced medical research, better support services, equipment and adapted housing can make a massive difference to the quality of life of people with DMD and can contribute to extending their life expectancy; welcomes the development in 2003 of the Scottish Muscle Network, based at Yorkhill, as a national managed clinical network benefiting patients in Stirling and across Scotland, but believes that more must be done to improve both life quality and life expectancy for people with DMD in Scotland.

The meeting closed at 5.51 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
22 March 2007

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

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 22 March 2007 and is not subject to any Parliamentary procedure

Treasure Trove in Scotland Annual Report by The Queen’s and The Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (SE/2007/73)

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 22 March 2007—

Justice 2 Committee, 6th Report, 2007 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 790)

Procedures Committee, 2nd Report, 2007 (Session 2): Legacy Paper (SP Paper 791)

Health Committee, 6th Report, 2007 (Session 2): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 792)