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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 11 December 2008

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

The meeting opened at 2.00 pm.

1. ScotRail Franchise: Des McNulty moved S3M-3075—That the Parliament notes the Audit Scotland report on the extension of First ScotRail's contract to 2014; expresses serious concern regarding the lack of consultation over the extension of this franchise and the failure of ministers to require a fully documented business case; notes the resignation of the former finance director of Transport Scotland; calls on the Scottish Government to cooperate with any Audit Committee investigation, and urges the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change to issue a statement to the Parliament should any investigation into the probity or governance within Transport Scotland make that necessary.

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson) moved amendment S3M-3075.3 to motion S3M-3075—

leave out from “expresses” to first “Transport Scotland”.

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 47, Against 76, Abstentions 1).

Alex Johnstone moved amendment S3M-3075.1 to motion S3M-3075—

leave out from “expresses” to end and insert—

“notes from the report that the original contract, negotiated by the previous Labour-led Scottish administration, “did not specify the conditions under which an extension should be considered or the criteria to be used to decide whether an extension might be appropriate”; believes that practice and procedures for future contract management can be improved and notes the report’s recommendations for Transport Scotland; considers that, in light of the finding that “First ScotRail was performing above its punctuality and capacity improvements targets within its first year of operating” and “key aspects of the original franchise contract were no longer fit for purpose”, the decision to extend the contract, inserted into the original contract under the previous Labour-led Scottish administration, was on balance justifiable.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 63, Against 61, Abstentions 0).

Alison McInnes moved amendment S3M-3075.2 to motion S3M-3075—

insert at end—

“requires the Scottish Government to conduct the next steps of the franchise extension process with the greatest possible transparency, and therefore calls on the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change to bring before Parliament the draft proposals on how the £73.1 million accrued through the franchise extension will be reinvested to allow close scrutiny of the plans before any further funds are committed.”

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

After debate, the motion as amended was agreed to (DT) by division: For 63, Against 58, Abstentions 3).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved— That the Parliament notes the Audit Scotland report on the extension of First ScotRail's contract to 2014; notes from the report that the original contract, negotiated by the previous Labour-led Scottish administration, “did not specify the conditions under which an extension should be considered or the criteria to be used to decide whether an extension might be appropriate”; believes that practice and procedures for future contract management can be improved and notes the report’s recommendations for Transport Scotland; considers that, in light of the finding that “First ScotRail was performing above its punctuality and capacity improvements targets within its first year of operating” and “key aspects of the original franchise contract were no longer fit for purpose”, the decision to extend the contract, inserted into the original contract under the previous Labour-led Scottish administration, was on balance justifiable; requires the Scottish Government to conduct the next steps of the franchise extension process with the greatest possible transparency, and therefore calls on the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change to bring before Parliament the draft proposals on how the £73.1 million accrued through the franchise extension will be reinvested to allow close scrutiny of the plans before any further funds are committed.

2. Kinship Care: Rhona Brankin moved S3M-3078—That the Parliament notes the commitment given by the First Minister on 27 September 2007 to provide allowances for kinship carers and ensure that funding would be brought forward to ensure that all kinship carers of looked-after children in Scotland were paid the recommended allowance for foster carers; further notes the commitment contained in the Scottish Government’s strategy, Getting it right for every child in kinship and foster care, to introduce a minimum national allowance of between £119 and £198 per week for kinship carers and the comments of the Minister for Children and Early Years in the subsequent debate on 5 December 2007 that he anticipated that payment of this allowance would begin in April 2008; is concerned that this has not materialised and that the vast majority of kinship carers are not in receipt of an allowance consistent with the promises made by both the Minister for Children and Early Years and the First Minister, and therefore calls on the Scottish Government to honour in full its pledge to Scotland's kinship carers and to properly recognise the vital role that kinship carers play in looking after some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children.

The Minister for Children and Early Years (Adam Ingram) moved amendment S3M-3078.1 to motion S3M-3078—

leave out from “to provide” to end and insert—

“to kinship carers; notes the increase of over 100% of looked-after children since 2000 who live with a kinship carer; recognises the crucial role that these carers play in supporting our most vulnerable children and that they should be supported financially at an equivalent level to foster carers; welcomes work by local authorities towards providing financial support to approved kinship carers of looked-after children using resources provided by central government and further welcomes the work of COSLA and the Association of Directors of Social Work to support the efforts of all local authorities to achieve this; calls on the Scottish Government to work constructively with the UK Government to resolve issues arising out of the interface with United Kingdom benefits legislation, and in this context notes the willingness of United Kingdom ministers to address anomalies in benefits entitlement for kinship carers.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 49, Against 59, Abstentions 16).

After debate, the motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 49, Abstentions 17).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes the commitment given by the First Minister on 27 September 2007 to provide allowances for kinship carers and ensure that funding would be brought forward to ensure that all kinship carers of looked-after children in Scotland were paid the recommended allowance for foster carers; further notes the commitment contained in the Scottish Government’s strategy, Getting it right for every child in kinship and foster care, to introduce a minimum national allowance of between £119 and £198 per week for kinship carers and the comments of the Minister for Children and Early Years in the subsequent debate on 5 December 2007 that he anticipated that payment of this allowance would begin in April 2008; is concerned that this has not materialised and that the vast majority of kinship carers are not in receipt of an allowance consistent with the promises made by both the Minister for Children and Early Years and the First Minister, and therefore calls on the Scottish Government to honour in full its pledge to Scotland's kinship carers and to properly recognise the vital role that kinship carers play in looking after some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children.

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

6. Ministerial Statement: The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney) made a statement on the Local Government Finance Settlement 2009-10.

7. Local Government Finance Settlement 2009-10: The Parliament debated the Local Government Finance Settlement 2009-10.

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

9. Communities Leading on Climate Change: The Parliament debated S3M-2991 in the name of Patrick Harvie—That the Parliament congratulates the community groups around Scotland, such as the Toryglen Gardening Club in Glasgow, that have made successful applications to the Climate Challenge Fund; notes that the fund makes available £27.4 million over three years to support community-led efforts to make serious carbon reductions across Scotland; believes that Scotland’s diverse communities can play an important role in carbon innovation, and believes that projects supported by the fund can also help build community cohesion, tackle social exclusion and build sustainable local economies.

The meeting closed at 5.36 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
11 December 2008

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

Subordinate Legislation

Affirmative Instruments

The following instruments were laid in draft before the Parliament on 11 December 2008 for approval by resolution—

The Private Landlord Registration (Modification) (Scotland) Order 2009

laid under 141(4) of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004

The Prohibited Procedures on Protected Animals (Exemptions) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2009

laid under section 51(3) of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006

Negative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 11 December 2008 and is subject to annulment

The Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008 (SSI 2008/410)

laid under section 2(7) of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 11 December 2008 and is not subject to any parliamentary procedure

Scotland’s Census 2011: a Government Statement (SG/2008/214)

Committee Reports

The following report is being published on 12 December 2008

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 43rd Report 2008 (Session 3): Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 184)