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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 21 February 2008

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. The Future of Scottish Water: Derek Brownlee moved S3M-1386—That the Parliament calls on the Scottish Government to establish a review of the structure and operations of Scottish Water with a remit to consider whether the current model delivers best value for taxpayers and customers, to consider alternative models, including mutualisation, and to report back to the Parliament on the conclusions of the review in such time as to allow any changes to the structure of Scottish Water to be in place prior to commencement of the next spending review period in 2011.

Des McNulty moved amendment S3M-1386.1 to motion S3M-1386—

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

“supports the retention of Scottish Water under public ownership and in that context calls on the Scottish Government to keep under review the structure and operations of Scottish Water, the regulatory arrangements for the water industry to ensure that the interests of domestic and business customers are properly protected and alternative public sector models, including mutualisation, and to report back to the Parliament in due course.”

Liam McArthur moved amendment S3M-1386.2 to motion S3M-1386—

after “mutualisation” insert “but excluding privatisation”.

After debate, the amendment S3M-1386.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 87, Against 32, Abstentions 0). As a result, amendment S3M-1386.2 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 86, Against 33, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament supports the retention of Scottish Water under public ownership and in that context calls on the Scottish Government to keep under review the structure and operations of Scottish Water, the regulatory arrangements for the water industry to ensure that the interests of domestic and business customers are properly protected and alternative public sector models, including mutualisation, and to report back to the Parliament in due course.

2. Prisons Policy: Bill Aitken moved S3M-1385—That the Parliament acknowledges the importance of a criminal justice system in which the public has confidence and which upholds the fundamental right of the public to a secure and safe society; notes with concern the current pressure on prison capacity; believes that the courts must be supported in sentencing disposals and, where that includes custody, believes that it is the obligation of the government to ensure that adequate custodial provision exists; views with concern deficiencies in the prison regime to address drug addiction, and deplores the Scottish Government’s hostility to deploying the private sector in new prison provision.

Kenny MacAskill moved amendment S3M-1385.2 to motion S3M-1385—

leave out from first “with concern” to end and insert—

“that, while the offending rate has been falling, the number of people in prison currently stands at record levels and that Scotland has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the world; welcomes the McLeish Commission into Penal Policy and recognises that, in the case of serious and dangerous individuals, custody is the only appropriate punishment, and notes that the Scottish Government is committed to three new prisons and has increased investment in the prisons estate to an average of £120 million a year.”

Margaret Smith moved amendment S3M-1385.2.1 to amendment S3M-1385.2—

insert at end—

“recognises the need to reduce the number of low-level receptions into custody for short-term sentences by focusing on tough community sentences that pay back into the community for the harm caused; further notes the need to improve treatment for those with mental health problems and drug and alcohol addictions, thus addressing the underlying causes of offending, and calls on the Scottish Government to build on schemes which provide offenders with education and skills training for work, not crime.”

Pauline McNeill moved amendment S3M-1385.1 to motion S3M-1385—

leave out from “acknowledges” to end and insert—

“notes the crucial role of the prison system in the criminal justice system and its role in dealing with a range of offenders; believes that only robust community sentences will provide a real alternative to custody for the Scottish courts and that this requires real investment in community sentences and community disposals; believes that short-term sentences are appropriate for certain types of offenders; further believes that urgent measures should be taken to provide real and appropriate alternatives to prison models for women offenders to reduce the female prison population; calls on the Scottish Government to report to the Parliament on the progress of the planned new prisons which could alleviate overcrowding in the prison estate, and further believes that sentencing policy should be clear, transparent and understood by the general public and should be driven by an underlying policy to protect the public from harm.”

After debate, amendment S3M-1385.2.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 55, Abstentions 0).

Amendment S3M-1385.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 55, Abstentions 0).

Amendment S3M-1385.1 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 41, Against 76, Abstentions 2).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 55, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament acknowledges the importance of a criminal justice system in which the public has confidence and which upholds the fundamental right of the public to a secure and safe society; notes that, while the offending rate has been falling, the number of people in prison currently stands at record levels and that Scotland has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the world; welcomes the McLeish Commission into Penal Policy and recognises that, in the case of serious and dangerous individuals, custody is the only appropriate punishment; notes that the Scottish Government is committed to three new prisons and has increased investment in the prisons estate to an average of £120 million a year; recognises the need to reduce the number of low-level receptions into custody for short-term sentences by focusing on tough community sentences that pay back into the community for the harm caused; further notes the need to improve treatment for those with mental health problems and drug and alcohol addictions, thus addressing the underlying causes of offending, and calls on the Scottish Government to build on schemes which provide offenders with education and skills training for work, not crime.

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

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

5. Themed Question Time: Questions on Health and Wellbeing were answered by the Cabinet Secretary and Ministers.

6. Ministerial Statement: The First Minister (Alex Salmond) made a statement and answered questions on the British-Irish Council Summit.

7. Democracy in Local Health Care: The Parliament debated the subject of democracy in local health care.

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

9. Central Scotland Rail Improvements: The Parliament debated S3M-916 in the name of Jamie Hepburn—That the Parliament welcomes the Scottish Government’s plans to electrify the Glasgow to Edinburgh and Cumbernauld railway lines; believes that this will have a positive effect on the commuting experience for people across Scotland, particularly those in central Scotland; recognises the importance of providing alternatives to the private car to reduce congestion and pollution and of opening up social and economic opportunities to the 32% of Scottish households that do not have access to a car; notes the campaigns by various rail user groups calling for the introduction of a national railcard scheme which would provide discounted travel to all regular train users, and believes that such a scheme should be considered for introduction in Scotland.

The meeting closed at 5.40 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
21 February 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 21 February 2008 and are subject to annulment—

The Police Grant (Scotland) Order 2008 (SSI 2008/46)

laid under section 32(8) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967

The Advice and Assistance (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/47)—

The Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/48)—

laid under section 37(1) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 (Adults with Incapacity) (Consequential Provisions) Order 2008 (SSI 2008/50)

laid under section 78 of the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007

The Adults with Incapacity (Accounts and Funds) (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/51)—

The Adults with Incapacity (Public Guardian’s Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/52)—

The Adults with Incapacity (Recall of Guardians’ Powers) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/53)—

The Adults with Incapacity (Reports in Relation to Guardianship and Intervention Orders) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/55)—

The Adults with Incapacity (Certificates in Relation to Powers of Attorney) (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/56)—

laid under section 86 of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000

The Water Environment (Diffuse Pollution) (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/54)

laid under section 36 of the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003

Legislative Consent Memorandum

The following memorandum was lodged on 21 February 2008

Kenny MacAskill MSP: Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Football Spectators and Sports Grounds Bill (UK Parliament legislation) (LCM(S3) 9.1)

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 21 February 2008 and is not subject to any parliamentary procedure

The Police Grant (Scotland) Order 2008 Report (SG/2008/19)

laid under section 32(6) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 21 February 2008—

Health and Sport Committee, 1st Report, 2008 (Session 3): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 60)

Local Government and Communities Committee, 3rd Report, 2008 (Session 3): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 61)

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 7th Report, 2008 (Session 3): Report on Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 62)