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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 20 March 2008

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Housing: Johann Lamont moved S3M-1603—That the Parliament regrets the SNP government’s lack of a coherent housing strategy; notes that the Housing Supply Task Force has no timetable or remit to produce recommendations for action; notes in particular the absence of robust evidence on funding and efficiencies in delivering its housing targets; further notes concerns about the impact of a single regional developer model, as outlined in the Firm Foundations consultation, on community-controlled housing associations and housing co-operatives; agrees that the Scottish Government should make a statement to the Parliament as soon as possible, clarifying its plans for the clear SNP manifesto commitment on a £2,000 first-time buyers’ grant, and urges the Scottish Government to act to secure long-term improvements in housing rather than the short-term appearance of change.

Stewart Maxwell moved amendment S3M-1603.3 to motion S3M-1603—

leave out from “the SNP government’s” to end and insert—

“the failure of the Labour and Liberal Democrat administration to tackle the chronic shortages of housing; notes the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase the rate of house building across all tenures from 25,000 to at least 35,000 houses per year by the middle of the next decade; welcomes the fact that the Housing Supply Task Force has brought together stakeholders from all sections of the housing sector to tackle blockages in the housing system; recognises that it is important to achieve value for money in, and increase the provision of, social rented housing while retaining the benefits of community-based provision and encourages the Scottish Government to continue to work with social housing providers to achieve that goal; further recognises the efforts of the Scottish Government to work together with housing associations, local authorities and the private sector to tackle the legacy of housing shortages; endorses the Scottish Government’s commitment to the 2012 target on homelessness, and calls on the Scottish Government to make a statement on Firm Foundations by the summer recess.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 46, Against 77, Abstentions 2).

Jamie McGrigor moved amendment S3M-1603.1 to motion S3M-1603—

insert at end—

“further believes that the right to buy should not be further restricted, and calls on the Scottish Government to encourage councils to bring forward plans for housing stock transfer to take advantage of the debt write-off which is available from HM Treasury and promote new investment as a result.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 61, Against 64, Abstentions 0).

Jim Tolson moved amendment S3M-1603.2 to motion S3M-1603—

after “housing targets” insert—

“believes that the Scottish Government’s provision of a real terms increase of 9% in affordable housing over the period of the comprehensive spending review falls far short of what is needed to address the affordable housing shortage.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 79, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 78, Against 46, Abstentions 1).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament regrets the SNP government’s lack of a coherent housing strategy; notes that the Housing Supply Task Force has no timetable or remit to produce recommendations for action; notes in particular the absence of robust evidence on funding and efficiencies in delivering its housing targets; believes that the Scottish Government’s provision of a real terms increase of 9% in affordable housing over the period of the comprehensive spending review falls far short of what is needed to address the affordable housing shortage; further notes concerns about the impact of a single regional developer model, as outlined in the Firm Foundations consultation, on community-controlled housing associations and housing co-operatives; agrees that the Scottish Government should make a statement to the Parliament as soon as possible, clarifying its plans for the clear SNP manifesto commitment on a £2,000 first-time buyers’ grant, and urges the Scottish Government to act to secure long-term improvements in housing rather than the short-term appearance of change.

2. Schools of Ambition: Rhona Brankin moved S3M-1601—That the Parliament recognises the important contribution that the Schools of Ambition programme has made in giving schools greater freedom to develop creative and innovative approaches to school improvement; notes HM Inspectorate of Education’s positive comments on the programme’s effect on pupil motivation; deplores the Scottish Government’s decision to axe the Schools of Ambition programme in the face of such success, and calls on the Scottish Government to continue the funding of existing schools of ambition and to identify further individual schools that would benefit from becoming schools of ambition.

Maureen Watt moved amendment S3M-1601.2 to motion S3M-1601—

leave out from “deplores” to end and insert—

“recognises that the Scottish Government has increased funding to Schools of Ambition in the Comprehensive Spending Review period 2008 to 2011 from £10.6 million to £11.5 million, and notes that two conferences will be held this summer which will share emerging lessons and demonstrate the variety of approaches taken by schools of ambition in order to embed these across the system which can help all local authorities and all schools to develop their own ambitious programmes for transformational change.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 49, Against 76, Abstentions 0).

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S3M-1601.1 to motion S3M-1601—

insert at end—

“and to continue to provide Schools of Ambition funding directly to schools and to support decisions being taken on the expenditure of such funds at school level.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 46, Abstentions 2).

Hugh O’Donnell moved amendment S3M-1601.3 to motion S3M-1601—

insert at end—

“and considers that head teachers play a crucial role in leading excellent schools and turning around schools that face challenges, and therefore calls on the Scottish Government to provide additional support and incentives for head teachers to improve their schools, including enhanced contract terms with more flexibility and increased rewards for outstanding leadership.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 46, Abstentions 2).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 48, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises the important contribution that the Schools of Ambition programme has made in giving schools greater freedom to develop creative and innovative approaches to school improvement; notes HM Inspectorate of Education’s positive comments on the programme’s effect on pupil motivation; deplores the Scottish Government’s decision to axe the Schools of Ambition programme in the face of such success, calls on the Scottish Government to continue the funding of existing schools of ambition and to identify further individual schools that would benefit from becoming schools of ambition and to continue to provide Schools of Ambition funding directly to schools and to support decisions being taken on the expenditure of such funds at school level; and considers that head teachers play a crucial role in leading excellent schools and turning around schools that face challenges, and therefore calls on the Scottish Government to provide additional support and incentives for head teachers to improve their schools, including enhanced contract terms with more flexibility and increased rewards for outstanding leadership.

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. Scotland’s Marine Environment: The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment (Richard Lochhead) moved S3M-1602—That the Parliament welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to consult on proposals for the sustainable management of Scotland’s seas and coast, including coherent framework measures for marine planning, conservation and sea fisheries, and believes that this will enhance Scotland’s stewardship of the seas, support sustainable development and provide protection for the marine environment, so ensuring that future generations of Scots will be able to enjoy the many social, cultural and economic benefits that the seas deliver.

Sarah Boyack moved amendment S3M-1602.2 to motion S3M-1602—

insert at end—

“calls on the Scottish Government to accelerate the timetable for the Marine Bill, and further calls on Scottish Ministers to work constructively with the UK Government and other administrations to ensure that an integrated and joined-up approach to new legislation and its implementation are achieved.”

Mike Rumbles moved amendment S3M-1602.1 to motion S3M-1602—

insert at end—

“believes that Scotland should have responsibility out to 200 nautical miles as part of the Scottish zone for marine spatial planning, fisheries and marine nature conservation including the network of marine protected areas, and calls on the Scottish Government to work constructively with the UK Government to reach agreement on this.”

Robin Harper moved amendment S3M-1602.1.1 to amendment S3M-1602.1—

after “marine protected areas” insert—

“sufficient to meet Scotland’s international obligations under the Oslo Paris Convention and World Summit on Sustainable Development”.

After debate, amendment 1602.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 110, Against 15, Abstentions 0).

Amendment 1602.1.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 109, Against 16, Abstentions 0).

Amendment 1602.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 108, Against 1, Abstentions 16).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 111, Against 0, Abstentions 14).

Accordingly, the Parliament agreed—That the Parliament welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to consult on proposals for the sustainable management of Scotland’s seas and coast, including coherent framework measures for marine planning, conservation and sea fisheries, and believes that this will enhance Scotland’s stewardship of the seas, support sustainable development and provide protection for the marine environment, so ensuring that future generations of Scots will be able to enjoy the many social, cultural and economic benefits that the seas deliver; calls on the Scottish Government to accelerate the timetable for the Marine Bill, and further calls on Scottish Ministers to work constructively with the UK Government and other administrations to ensure that an integrated and joined-up approach to new legislation and its implementation are achieved; believes that Scotland should have responsibility out to 200 nautical miles as part of the Scottish zone for marine spatial planning, fisheries and marine nature conservation including the network of marine protected areas, sufficient to meet Scotland’s international obligations under the Oslo Paris Convention and World Summit on Sustainable Development, and calls on the Scottish Government to work constructively with the UK Government to reach agreement on this.

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

8. Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings: The Parliament debated S3M-1444 in the name of Gil Paterson—That the Parliament recognises that 23 March 2008 marks the first anniversary of the United Kingdom’s signing of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings; notes that this convention is yet to be ratified in order to enshrine the rights of victims of trafficking in domestic law; further notes that there are substantial responsibilities for the Scottish Government under this convention, including the identification of trafficking victims in line with services to victims of trafficking, the investigation and prosecution of trafficking and the non-prosecution of crimes that trafficking victims have been coerced into; believes that a lead should be taken in the UK on the implementation of the parts of the convention for which it has responsibility, and considers that all measures should be taken to stop this modern-day form of slavery.

The meeting closed at 5.59 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
20 March 2008

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

New Bills introduced or reprinted on 19 March 2008

Glasgow Commonwealth Games Bill—The Bill was reprinted as amended at Stage 2. (SP Bill 4A) (Executive Bill)

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 20 March 2008 and are subject to annulment—

The Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/127)

laid under section 48(3) of the Food Safety Act 1990

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Prescribed Police Stations) (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/128)

laid under section 138(3) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

The Eggs and Chicks (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/129)

laid under section 48(3) of the Food Safety Act 1990 and paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 2 to the European Communities Act 1972.