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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 29 May 2008

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Ministerial Statement: The Minister for Community Safety (Fergus Ewing) made a statement and answered questions on a Drugs Strategy.

2. Common Agricultural Policy Health Check: The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment (Richard Lochhead) moved S3M-2002—That the Parliament, noting the European Commission’s legislative proposals for the health check of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to consult on these proposals, and on the longer-term implementation of CAP in Scotland, in order that agriculture remains a dynamic and competitive industry with farmers playing their full part in achieving the Scottish Government’s purpose of sustainable economic growth through food production and environmental management of our agricultural land.

Karen Gillon moved amendment S3M-2002.3 to motion S3M-2002—

leave out from “with farmers” to end and insert—

“playing its full part in ensuring the long-term viability of our rural communities and enabling farmers to play their part in achieving the Scottish Government’s purpose of sustainable economic growth through food production, high standards of animal welfare and the environmental management of our agricultural land.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to (DT).

John Scott moved amendment S3M-2002.1 to motion S3M-2002—

insert at end—

“but, in so doing, notes the importance of consulting on the potential impact of progressive modulation on Scottish farms and affirms that any increases in European Union-wide modulation should be matched by a corresponding deduction in levels of voluntary modulation.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 79, Against 2, Abstentions 43).

Jim Hume moved amendment S3M-2002.2 to motion S3M-2002—

insert at end—

“considers that any increase in compulsory modulation must be offset by a corresponding reduction in voluntary modulation to ensure that Scottish producers are not put at a competitive disadvantage within the European Union; further considers that Scotland, with its high proportion of large farm units, must not be disadvantaged by proposals for progressive modulation or capping; believes that, in light of rapidly escalating food and fuel costs, the Scottish Rural Development Programme should be reviewed, with the production of food and food security considered as a key priority, and recognises the correlation between economic activity on the ground and delivery of environmental benefits for all.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 79, Against 2, Abstentions 43).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 122, Against 0, Abstentions 2).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament, noting the European Commission’s legislative proposals for the health check of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to consult on these proposals, and on the longer-term implementation of CAP in Scotland, in order that agriculture remains a dynamic and competitive industry playing its full part in ensuring the long-term viability of our rural communities and enabling farmers to play their part in achieving the Scottish Government’s purpose of sustainable economic growth through food production, high standards of animal welfare and the environmental management of our agricultural land but, in so doing, notes the importance of consulting on the potential impact of progressive modulation on Scottish farms and affirms that any increases in European Union-wide modulation should be matched by a corresponding deduction in levels of voluntary modulation; considers that any increase in compulsory modulation must be offset by a corresponding reduction in voluntary modulation to ensure that Scottish producers are not put at a competitive disadvantage within the European Union; further considers that Scotland, with its high proportion of large farm units, must not be disadvantaged by proposals for progressive modulation or capping; believes that, in light of rapidly escalating food and fuel costs, the Scottish Rural Development Programme should be reviewed, with the production of food and food security considered as a key priority, and recognises the correlation between economic activity on the ground and delivery of environmental benefits for all.

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. Moving Scotland Forward: The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing (Nicola Sturgeon) moved S3M-2001—That the Parliament welcomes the many decisions taken over the last 12 months to make Scotland a wealthier, greener, healthier, safer and smarter nation, including the reduction in business rates for 150,000 small business properties, the funding to put more police on Scotland’s streets, the new partnership with local government and the cross-party initiatives to tackle problems related to drugs, alcohol and tobacco; further welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to more open government and its proposals on proactive publication of material across government and, in particular, the pilot project within the environment portfolio; looks forward to a range of proposals from the Scottish Government with regard to climate change, patients’ rights, criminal justice, marine policy, safeguarding rural schools and driving forward the Curriculum for Excellence, and believes that many of the measures already agreed by the Parliament to improve the lives of people living in Scotland will be undermined unless the UK Government takes action to tackle rising costs of fuel and food.

Malcolm Chisholm moved amendment S3M-2001.2 to motion S3M-2001—

leave out from first “welcomes” to end and insert—

“condemns the self-congratulation and lack of positive policies for the future in the First Minster's statement on Moving Scotland Forward on 14 May 2008; recognises the many SNP broken promises on a whole range of manifesto commitments, from dumping student debt to providing a £2,000 grant to first-time buyers, and calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward substantive policies to address climate change, skills development, affordable housing shortages, health inequalities and the other big challenges that confront Scotland.”

Murdo Fraser moved amendment S3M-2001.2.1 to motion S3M-2001.2—

insert at end—

“and further calls on the Scottish Government to work constructively with Her Majesty’s Government on these and other issues for the benefit of the Scottish people, thus demonstrating the benefits of our historic union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a union which continues to attract overwhelming public support.”

Ross Finnie moved amendment S3M-2001.1 to motion S3M-2001—

leave out from first “welcomes” to end and insert—

“is concerned that the First Minister’s statement on Moving Scotland Forward lacked substance, failed to justify the many promises broken by the SNP over the last 12 months and failed to address the long-term issues facing Scotland; welcomes the cross-party initiatives to tackle problems related to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, the commitment to drive forward the previous administration’s Curriculum for Excellence and the pilot scheme on environmental information; calls for a substantial extension of the bodies covered by the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002; believes that the statement was a missed opportunity to bring forward a coherent energy strategy; calls for the introduction of a minimum income guarantee for students, and further calls on the Scottish Government to empower children and young people to have the best possible start in life by attacking the causes of early disadvantage.”

After debate, amendment 2001.2.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 74, Against 48, Abstentions 1).

Amendment 2001.2, as amended, was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 48, Abstentions 17). As a result, amendment 2001.1 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 75, Against 49, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament condemns the self-congratulation and lack of positive policies for the future in the First Minster's statement on Moving Scotland Forward on 14 May 2008; recognises the many SNP broken promises on a whole range of manifesto commitments, from dumping student debt to providing a £2,000 grant to first-time buyers; calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward substantive policies to address climate change, skills development, affordable housing shortages, health inequalities and the other big challenges that confront Scotland, and further calls on the Scottish Government to work constructively with Her Majesty’s Government on these and other issues for the benefit of the Scottish people, thus demonstrating the benefits of our historic union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a union which continues to attract overwhelming public support.

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

8. No Recourse No Safety: The Parliament debated S3M-1626 in the name of Angela Constance—That the Parliament notes the publication of No Recourse No Safety: The Government’s Failure to Protect Women from Violence, a report by Amnesty International and the Southall Black Sisters; is disturbed by the evidence that not having recourse to public funds prevents women with insecure immigration status from accessing the benefits they need to claim refuge, effectively trapping women in violence or destitution; welcomes the Scottish Government’s ongoing commitment to tackling violence against women, continuing the good work commenced by the previous Scottish administration; acknowledges the pivotal contribution of local services such as the West Lothian Council Domestic Abuse Service which provides a service to women from a minority population; notes that not having recourse to public funds affects women who have valid visas as spouses, students, visitors and workers and those who are classed as “overstayers” in addition to victims of trafficking; acknowledges that organisations such as West Lothian Women’s Aid are accommodating and assisting women with no recourse to public funds, and commends the recommendations of No Recourse No Safety, in particular the need for the Scottish Government to put in place emergency funding while a permanent solution from the UK Government is sought, namely exempting women fleeing violence from the no recourse to public funds requirement.

The meeting closed at 5.45 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
29 May 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 29 May 2008 and are subject to annulment—

The Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/201)

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

The National Scenic Areas (Scotland) Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/202)

laid under paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 2 to the European Communities Act 1972, section 106 of the Electricity Act 1989 and section 275(3) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2008 (SSI 2008/203)

laid under section 275(5) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 29 May 2008—

Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme Committee, 1st Report, 2008 (Session 3): Report on Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme (SP Paper 103)

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 23rd Report, 2008 (Session 3): Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 104)