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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 1 May 2008

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Housing: David McLetchie moved S3M-1812—That the Parliament regrets the failure of the Scottish Government to actively pursue and promote housing stock transfer by local authorities to community-based housing associations and thereby obtain a debt write-off from HM Treasury of over £2 billion; believes that the role of social landlords is best undertaken by housing associations and other not-for-profit, co-operative bodies, and deplores the introduction of any further restrictions on the right to buy.

Stewart Maxwell moved amendment S3M-1812.2 to motion S3M-1812—

leave out from “regrets” to end and insert—

“respects the democratic right of tenants to determine the ownership of their homes; regrets that HM Treasury will only write off local authority housing debt where local authority housing stock is transferred; believes that housing associations and other not-for-profit, co-operative bodies continue to have the lead role in providing new social housing but welcomes the Scottish Government’s encouragement of local authorities to augment the supply of new social housing as part of their role as landlords, and endorses the Scottish Government’s plans to end the right to buy on new social housing and to review how right to buy applies to the existing stock of social housing.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 42, Against 72, Abstentions 2).

Johann Lamont moved amendment S3M-1812.3 to motion S3M-1812—

leave out from “the failure” to end and insert—

“that, following the parliamentary debate on 20 March 2008, ministers have not yet reported to the Parliament on the future of the £2,000 first-time buyers grant, despite the Parliament agreeing that they should; regrets that ministers have not yet reported to the Parliament on how the Scottish Government plans to respond to the consultation on Firm Foundations which identified serious criticisms of the Scottish Government’s approach to housing; notes the critical role of housing associations and housing co-operatives in delivering affordable homes for rent; condemns the Minister for Communities and Sport for not yet announcing the allocation of Housing Association Grant, and reaffirms its view that the Scottish Government has no coherent housing strategy.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 44, Against 56, Abstentions 15).

Robert Brown moved amendment S3M-1812.1 to motion S3M-1812—

leave out from “believes that” to end and insert—

“recognises that local councils are best placed to assess and meet varied local housing needs and to determine their local housing strategies; believes that the role of community-based housing associations and housing co-operatives is vital to such diverse local strategies which should also include the ability to mould right to buy policy to fit local needs, and calls on the Scottish Government to produce clear figures on its housing plans including the number of affordable rented houses to be built from 2008 to 2011.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 58, Abstentions 0; amendment disagreed to on casting vote).

The motion was then disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 14, Against 102, Abstentions 1).

2. Food Security: John Scott moved S3M-1803—That the Parliament expresses its concern at the potential for global food shortages; notes the recent cost increases in many basic food products here in Scotland, with food price inflation now exceeding 6%; further notes that many developing countries are experiencing growing social unrest as a result of food pressures, and calls on the Scottish Government, Her Majesty’s Government, the European Union and other relevant bodies to work closely, and with the appropriate urgency, to seek solutions.

Karen Gillon moved amendment S3M-1803.1 to motion S3M-1803—

insert at end—

“that take account of the growing pressures on agriculture from both climate change and the rush to biofuels”.

Mike Rumbles moved amendment S3M-1803.2 to motion S3M-1803—

insert at end—

“recognises the role of Scotland’s primary producers in ensuring the long-term capacity and capability of our food supply; and further calls on the Scottish Government to encourage the development of local supply chains through public procurement, address the imbalance in power between the big supermarkets and our food producers, reduce the regulatory burden on farmers, and ensure that our primary producers operate on a level playing field with foreign competitors.”

Robin Harper moved amendment S3M-1803.1.1 to motion S3M-1803.1—

insert at end—

“, as well as the peak in oil production.”

After debate, amendment 1803.1.1 to amendment 1803.1 was agreed to (DT).

Amendment 1803.1, as amended, was agreed to (DT).

Amendment 1803.2 was agreed to (DT).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to (DT).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament expresses its concern at the potential for global food shortages; notes the recent cost increases in many basic food products here in Scotland, with food price inflation now exceeding 6%; further notes that many developing countries are experiencing growing social unrest as a result of food pressures; calls on the Scottish Government, Her Majesty’s Government, the European Union and other relevant bodies to work closely, and with the appropriate urgency, to seek solutions that take account of the growing pressures on agriculture from both climate change and the rush to biofuels, as well as the peak in oil production; recognises the role of Scotland’s primary producers in ensuring the long-term capacity and capability of our food supply; further calls on the Scottish Government to encourage the development of local supply chains through public procurement, address the imbalance in power between the big supermarkets and our food producers, reduce the regulatory burden on farmers, and ensure that our primary producers operate on a level playing field with foreign competitors.

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

4. First Minister’s Question Time: Questions were answered by the Deputy First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon).

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

6. The Impact of the UK Budget on Scotland: The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Development (John Swinney) moved S3M-1814—That the Parliament is disappointed with some of the decisions taken in the 2008 UK Budget and their damaging impact on the Scottish economy and households; in particular regrets that action was not taken to reverse the 2007 decision to abolish the 10p tax rate; notes with concern the increase in the small companies’ rate of corporation tax; believes that the blanket approach taken in setting alcohol duty is too simplistic and does not address the wider social and health issues around alcohol; regrets that the measures aimed at tackling fuel poverty are insufficient, and further regrets the lack of appropriate measures to moderate the impact of rising fuel prices.

Derek Brownlee moved amendment S3M-1814.1 to motion S3M-1814—

insert at end—

“notes with concern the decision to abolish Capital Gains Tax taper relief, and believes that the increase in spirits duty will needlessly damage the Scotch Whisky industry.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 14, Against 16, Abstentions 87).

Liam McArthur moved amendment S3M-1814.2 to motion S3M-1814—

after “10p tax rate”, insert—

“deplores the continued failure of the UK Government to provide an adequate package of measures to help families affected by the falling housing market and the absence of sufficient budget provision for the alleviation of child poverty”.

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 16, Against 14, Abstentions 87).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 57, Against 16, Abstentions 44).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament is disappointed with some of the decisions taken in the 2008 UK Budget and their damaging impact on the Scottish economy and households; in particular regrets that action was not taken to reverse the 2007 decision to abolish the 10p tax rate; deplores the continued failure of the UK Government to provide an adequate package of measures to help families affected by the falling housing market and the absence of sufficient budget provision for the alleviation of child poverty; notes with concern the increase in the small companies’ rate of corporation tax; believes that the blanket approach taken in setting alcohol duty is too simplistic and does not address the wider social and health issues around alcohol; regrets that the measures aimed at tackling fuel poverty are insufficient, and further regrets the lack of appropriate measures to moderate the impact of rising fuel prices.

7. Committee Membership: Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S3M-1820—That the Parliament agrees that—

Charlie Gordon be appointed to replace Claire Baker as a member of the Audit Committee;

Richard Baker be appointed to replace Michael McMahon as a member of the Equal Opportunities Committee;

Patricia Ferguson be appointed to replace John Park as a member of the European and External Relations Committee; and

Jackie Baillie be appointed to replace Richard Baker as a member of the Subordinate Legislation Committee.

The motion was agreed to (DT).

8. Substitution on Committees: Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S3M-1821—That the Parliament agrees that—

Claire Baker be appointed to replace Richard Baker as the Scottish Labour Party substitute on the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee;

John Park be appointed to replace Claire Baker as the Scottish Labour Party substitute on the Equal Opportunities Committee; and

Richard Baker be appointed to replace John Park as the Scottish Labour Party substitute on the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee.

The motion was agreed to (DT).

9. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8 as noted above.

10. Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living: The Parliament debated S3M-1710 in the name of Elaine Smith—That the Parliament recognises the importance of International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) held on 28 April each year; considers that the official slogan “remember the dead, fight for the living” is particularly apposite and helps to ensure that all those who have died as a result of work are not forgotten whilst at the same time encourages renewed efforts to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated; welcomes events around Scotland to commemorate this important day and, in particular, the unveiling of the North Lanarkshire Workers Memorial at Summerlee Heritage Park in Coatbridge; encourages relevant authorities to fly official flags on public buildings at half mast; hopes that all workplaces will observe a one-minute silence at 12 noon on 28 April 2008; commends the STUC and the trade unions for their work in building trade union organisation and campaigning for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health and safety laws to help in the struggle for safer workplaces, and supports the call for recognition of IWMD as a national day of remembrance for those who have been killed, injured, or made ill by their work.

The meeting closed at 6.06 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
1 May 2008


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

Subordinate Legislation

Affirmative Instruments

The following instrument was laid in draft before the Parliament on 1 May 2008 for approval by resolution

The Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 Amendment Order 2008

laid under section 103(5) of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.

Negative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 1 May 2008 and is subject to annulment

The Bathing Waters (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/170)

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

SPCB Reports

The following report was published on 1 May 2008

SPCB Annual Equalities Report 2007 (SP Paper 84)