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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 28 February 2008

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Improving Accountability: Jackie Baillie moved S3M-1434—That the Parliament believes that government should be open and accountable; affirms its support for the Seven Principles of Public Life established in the first report of the Nolan Committee and for the further principles governing ministerial conduct as set out in the Scottish Ministerial Code; notes that the First Minister is reviewing the code, in line with practice after each Scottish parliamentary election; acknowledges the increasing calls for independent oversight of the code; considers that a modern and progressive government has nothing to fear from ensuring transparency and accountability in all that it does, and therefore calls on the First Minister to include independent oversight of the Scottish Ministerial Code, taking the new UK Ministerial Code as the starting point, and to bring forward a statement to the Parliament on this when the review is concluded.

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S3M-1434.2 to motion S3M-1434—

leave out from “oversight of the Scottish Ministerial code” to end and insert—

 “authority to direct ministers in the appropriate arrangements for ensuring that their conduct as ministers is in accordance with the Scottish Ministerial Code to avoid conflict or potential conflict of interest, and to oversee its administration, and to bring forward a statement to the Parliament on this when the review is concluded.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 64, Against 48, Abstentions 16).

Mike Rumbles moved amendment S3M-1434.1 to motion S3M-1434—

insert at end—

“and further believes that the best way of ensuring independent oversight is for the Parliament to appoint a person independent of government to investigate alleged breaches of the Scottish Ministerial Code.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 65, Against 63, Abstentions 0).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 81, Against 47, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved— That the Parliament believes that government should be open and accountable; affirms its support for the Seven Principles of Public Life established in the first report of the Nolan Committee and for the further principles governing ministerial conduct as set out in the Scottish Ministerial Code; notes that the First Minister is reviewing the code, in line with practice after each Scottish parliamentary election; acknowledges the increasing calls for independent oversight of the code; considers that a modern and progressive government has nothing to fear from ensuring transparency and accountability in all that it does, and therefore calls on the First Minister to include independent authority to direct ministers in the appropriate arrangements for ensuring that their conduct as ministers is in accordance with the Scottish Ministerial Code to avoid conflict or potential conflict of interest, and to oversee its administration, and to bring forward a statement to the Parliament on this when the review is concluded, and further believes that the best way of ensuring independent oversight is for the Parliament to appoint a person independent of government to investigate alleged breaches of the Scottish Ministerial Code.

2. Protecting Scotland’s Children: Paul Martin moved S3M-1432—That the Parliament recognises the importance of making further progress on the 33 recommendations published by the Justice 2 Sub-committee on 15 December 2006 in connection with the management of registered sex offenders; believes that ensuring public safety is paramount in the management of registered sex offenders; further recognises the crucial role that the retention of DNA samples and fingerprints of all crime suspects has played in England and Wales in detecting sex offenders; acknowledges the value of the pilot schemes in England and Wales that will allow parents to ask police authorities whether a named individual such as a carer or a new partner has previously been placed on the sex offenders register, and calls on the Scottish Government to bring a statement to the Parliament on the implementation of the Justice 2 Sub-committee's report J2SC/S2/06/R1.

Kenny MacAskill moved amendment S3M-1432.1 to motion S3M-1432—

leave out from “the crucial role” to end and insert—

 “that appropriate utilisation of DNA samples and fingerprints can play an important role in identifying offenders but that it is vital to strike the right balance between prosecuting criminals and protecting the innocent and notes the review that the Scottish Government has commissioned from Professor James Fraser; recognises the extensive powers already available to the police in monitoring sex offenders and ensuring public safety, and notes the Scottish Government’s liaison with the Home Office as disclosure pilots progress in four English police areas and the Scottish Government’s proposal to monitor the outcomes of these pilots to determine what lessons there might be for Scotland, and welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposal to write to the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee to report progress on each of the 33 recommendations made by the Justice 2 Sub-committee report J2SC/S2/06/R1.”

Bill Aitken moved amendment S3M-1432.1.2 to amendment S3M-1432.1—

after “Scotland” insert—

 “believes that the monitoring of sex offenders could be made more effective by means of satellite tracking and the use of lie detector tests where an offender has breached the terms of their registration requirement and has effectively been out of contact for a period”.

Margaret Smith moved amendment S3M-1432.1.1 to amendment S3M-1432.1—

after “Professor James Fraser;” insert—

 “; rejects the blanket retention of DNA samples and fingerprints;”.

After debate, amendment 1432.1.2 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 16, Against 111, Abstentions 0).

Amendment 1432.1.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 81, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

Amendment 1432.1 as amended, was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 82, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 81, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises the importance of making further progress on the 33 recommendations published by the Justice 2 Sub-committee on 15 December 2006 in connection with the management of registered sex offenders; believes that ensuring public safety is paramount in the management of registered sex offenders; further recognises that appropriate utilisation of DNA samples and fingerprints can play an important role in identifying offenders but that it is vital to strike the right balance between prosecuting criminals and protecting the innocent and notes the review that the Scottish Government has commissioned from Professor James Fraser; rejects the blanket retention of DNA samples and fingerprints; recognises the extensive powers already available to the police in monitoring sex offenders and ensuring public safety, and notes the Scottish Government’s liaison with the Home Office as disclosure pilots progress in four English police areas and the Scottish Government’s proposal to monitor the outcomes of these pilots to determine what lessons there might be for Scotland, and welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposal to write to the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee to report progress on each of the 33 recommendations made by the Justice 2 Sub-committee report J2SC/S2/06/R1.

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 Rural Affairs and the Environment, and Justice and Law Officers were answered by Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers and Scottish Law Officers.

6. Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Bill: David McLetchie, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S3M-1431—That the Parliament agrees that, during Stage 3 of the Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Bill, debate on groups of amendments shall, subject to Rule 9.8.4A, be brought to a conclusion by the time limit indicated, that time limit being calculated from when the Stage begins and excluding any periods when other business is under consideration or when a meeting of the Parliament is suspended (other than a suspension following the first division in the Stage being called) or otherwise not in progress:

Group 1:         20 minutes.

The motion was agreed to.

7. Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Bill - Stage 3: The Bill was considered at Stage 3.

The following amendments were agreed to without division: 1 and 2.

8. Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Bill - Stage 3: The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning (Fiona Hyslop) moved S3M-1367—That the Parliament agrees that the Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Bill be passed.

Rhona Brankin moved amendment S3M-1367.1 to motion S3M-1367—

insert at end—

 “and, in so doing, notes that the Scottish Government is no longer pledged to abolish graduate loan debt and acknowledges also the inadequate increase in the Young Students’ Bursary and, as the Scottish Government has a responsibility to develop a system of student funding to provide sufficient financial support to students while they study, believes that an independent commission should be established on further and higher education in Scotland whose remit shall include consideration of structures and future funding of the sector and student support.”

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S3M-1367.1.1 to amendment S3M-1367.1—

insert at end—

 “and whose remit and membership shall be agreed in partnership with the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee and which shall be set up by the end of June 2008 and shall report to the Scottish Government and the Parliament by the end of 2009.”

Jeremy Purvis moved amendment S3M-1367.2 to motion S3M-1367—

insert at end—

 “and, in so doing, calls on the Scottish Ministers, when taking forward their consultation on student support later this year, to consider a number of wider options to improve financial support for students, including specific reference to the development of a new minimum income guarantee.”

After debate, amendment 1367.1.1 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 65, Abstentions 0).

Amendment 1367.1 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 65, Abstentions 0).

Amendment 1367.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 66, Against 16, Abstentions 46).

The motion was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 67, Against 61, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament agrees that the Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Bill be passed and, in so doing, calls on the Scottish Ministers, when taking forward their consultation on student support later this year, to consider a number of wider options to improve financial support for students, including specific reference to the development of a new minimum income guarantee.

9. Business Motion: Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S3M-1448—That the Parliament agrees the following revision to the programme of business for Thursday 6 March 2008—

after

Thursday 6 March 2008

9.15 am                          Parliamentary Bureau Motions

insert

followed by                      Ministerial Statement: Redevelopment of the State Hospital

The motion was agreed to.

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

11. Proposed Closure of Rural Schools: The Parliament debated S3M-1065 in the name of Cathy Jamieson—That the Parliament believes that small rural schools can provide a learning environment that promotes confidence, responsible citizenship and the opportunity to contribute effectively, as well as a positive educational and social experience for children; believes that small rural schools can effectively deliver the Curriculum for Excellence; recognises the wider role that local primary schools play within rural communities; notes that the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning intends to legislate to introduce a presumption against the closure of rural schools, and commends the local parents, pupils, teachers and members of the community who are making a positive case to keep open Sorn, Littlemill, St Xavier’s and Crossroads primary schools following the publication of SNP-led East Ayrshire Council’s closure proposals.

The meeting closed at 5.55 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
28 February 2008

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

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 28 February 2008 and is subject to annulment

The Agricultural Processing, Marketing and Co-operation Grants (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/64)

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

Not Subject to any Parliamentary Procedure

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 28 February 2008 and is not subject to any Parliamentary procedure

The Food Protection (Emergency Prohibitions) (Radioactivity in Sheep) Partial Revocation (Scotland) Order 2008 (SSI 2008/63)

laid under section 1(10) of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 28 February 2008 and is not subject to any Parliamentary procedure

Scottish Law Commission Annual Report 2007 (SG/2008/16)

laid under section 3(3) of the Law Commissions Act 1965