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Committees Sessions 1, 2 & 3

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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 10 January 2008

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Spending Review 2007: Iain Gray moved S3M-1105—That the Parliament regrets the difficulties faced by subject committees in scrutinising the Spending Review 2007 due to the failure of the Scottish Government to provide figures to the level of detail established in previous budget consideration; notes the widely expressed concerns that provision in some areas is inadequate or rendered vulnerable through immediate removal of ring-fencing, and calls on the Scottish Government to work with the Parliament’s committees in their detailed consideration of these areas and, as a starting point, amend its spending review proposals to boost economic growth and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

John Swinney moved amendment S3M-1105.2 to motion S3M-1105—

Leave out from “regrets” to end and insert—

“looks forward to the replacement of significant amounts of ring-fencing by single outcome agreements with local authorities that will support the achievement of national outcomes set out in the spending review; recognises that the effectiveness of the national outcomes and the removal of ring-fencing will require to be monitored, and looks forward to the continuation of full scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s budget in the Finance Committee and the Parliament as part of the budget process.”

Derek Brownlee moved amendment S3M-1105.2.1 to amendment S3M-1105.2—

Insert at end—

“notes the decision of the Parliament on 8 November 2007 in relation to a review of the budget process for future years, and calls on all interested parties to participate fully in that review when it commences.”

Tavish Scott moved amendment S3M-1105.3 to motion S3M-1105—

Leave out from “regrets” to end and insert—

“recognises that no party holds a parliamentary majority and believes therefore that the 2007 Spending Review was an opportunity to create a budget of the whole Parliament; regrets the SNP Government’s failure to match its rhetoric on consensus with action in this Parliament; believes that the budget document is the most opaque seen under devolution and fails to provide an appropriate level of detail and transparency; regrets the Government’s failure to detail how it intends to achieve the proposed £1.6 billion of efficiency savings; notes the concerns across the public sector at delays to infrastructure investment caused by uncertainty over the future of PPP; believes that urgent reform of the budget process is required to increase the opportunities for parliamentary committees to take evidence on alternative spending proposals and consider government spending plans in more detail; welcomes the resolution of the Parliament to establish a review of the budget process, and calls for this review to commence as a matter of urgency, involve wider civic Scotland, consider the timescale, content and nature of the budget process and report to the Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity in order that its recommendations can be implemented in time for the 2009-10 budget.”

Amendment S3M-1105.2.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 81, Against 44, Abstentions 0).

Amendment S3M-1105.2, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 60, Abstentions 1). As a result, amendment S3M-1105.3 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 61, Abstentions 1).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament looks forward to the replacement of significant amounts of ring-fencing by single outcome agreements with local authorities that will support the achievement of national outcomes set out in the spending review; recognises that the effectiveness of the national outcomes and the removal of ring-fencing will require to be monitored; looks forward to the continuation of full scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s budget in the Finance Committee and the Parliament as part of the budget process; notes the decision of the Parliament on 8 November 2007 in relation to a review of the budget process for future years, and calls on all interested parties to participate fully in that review when it commences.

2. General Question Time: Questions were answered by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.

3. First Minister’s Question Time: Questions were answered by the First Minister (Alex Salmond).

4. Themed Question Time: Questions on Education and Lifelong Learning, and on Europe, External Affairs and Culture were answered by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.

5. Gould Report: The Minister for Parliamentary Business (Bruce Crawford) moved S3M-1110—That the Parliament welcomes the Gould report, including the recommendation calling for the further devolution of executive and legislative powers to the Scottish Government and the Parliament for the conduct of its own elections, and calls on Her Majesty’s Government and the Scottish Government to discuss, agree and publish a timetable for appropriate implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Andy Kerr moved amendment S3M-1110.3 to motion S3M-1110—

Leave out from “conduct” to end and insert—

“administration of its own elections; calls on Her Majesty’s Government and the Scottish Government to discuss, agree and publish a timetable for appropriate implementation of the report’s recommendations having regard to the conclusions from both the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee and the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Select Committee, and believes that the proposed Scottish Constitutional Commission should consider the full legislative framework for Scottish Parliament elections.”

Annabel Goldie moved amendment S3M-1110.3.1 to amendment S3M-1110.3—

After “its own elections” insert—

“and the decoupling of future elections to this Parliament and Scotland’s councils”.

Iain Smith moved amendment S3M-1110.2 to motion S3M-1110—

Insert at end—

“but believes that changes in the powers of the Parliament should be for a purpose and notes that a single transferable vote (STV) system offers the most effective way of electing parliaments, giving voters more choice than any other system, wasting fewer votes and increasing accountability; further notes the successful use of STV for the local government elections in 2007, and therefore believes that the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections should be conducted using STV.”

After debate, amendment S3M-1110.3.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 109, Against 16, Abstentions 0).

Amendment S3M-1110.3, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 107, Against 16, Abstentions 2).

Amendment S3M-1110.2 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 18, Against 59, Abstentions 48).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 109, Against 15, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament welcomes the Gould report, including the recommendation calling for the further devolution of executive and legislative powers to the Scottish Government and the Parliament for the administration of its own elections and the decoupling of future elections to this Parliament and Scotland’s councils; calls on Her Majesty’s Government and the Scottish Government to discuss, agree and publish a timetable for appropriate implementation of the report’s recommendations having regard to the conclusions from both the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee and the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Select Committee, and believes that the proposed Scottish Constitutional Commission should consider the full legislative framework for Scottish Parliament elections.

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

7. The St Margaret of Scotland Hospice: The Parliament debated S3M-711 in the name of Des McNulty—That the Parliament recognises the outstanding care provided for terminally ill and frail elderly patients by the St Margaret of Scotland Hospice in the 57 years since its foundation; notes with concern the uncertainty faced by Scotland’s largest hospice as a result of proposals to remove places for the care of frail elderly people with complex needs, and believes that NHS Greater Glasgow and Scottish ministers should be made aware of the very strong support that exists for St Margaret’s in Clydebank and throughout the west of Scotland.

The meeting closed at 5.50 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
10 January 2008

Appendix

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

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 10 January 2008 and are subject to annulment—

The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/3)—

The School Crossing Patrol Sign (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/4)—

laid under section 134(3) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

The Bankruptcy Fees (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/5)

laid under section 72 of the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985

Committee Reports

The following report was published on 10 January 2008

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 1st Report, 2008 (Session 3): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 43)