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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 8 January 2009

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Homecoming and its Potential to Support Sustainable Economic Growth: The Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism (Jim Mather) moved S3M-3173—That the Parliament supports Scotland’s first ever homecoming celebration; recognises that the spectacular calendar of events and activities taking place this year from the weekend around Burns Night to St Andrew’s Day will make for a unique year for all those joining the celebrations, including the people living in Scotland, the diaspora Scots and those with an affinity for Scotland who visit in 2009, and further recognises the potential for Homecoming Scotland 2009 to boost international and domestic tourism in support of the Scottish economy at this time.

Lewis Macdonald moved amendment S3M-3173.1 to motion S3M-3173—

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

“welcomes and supports the calendar of events and activities taking place this year from the weekend around Burns Night to St Andrew’s Day; recognises that this will make for a unique year for all those joining the celebrations, including the people living in Scotland, the diaspora Scots and those with an affinity for Scotland who visit in 2009, and calls on Scottish ministers to maximise the potential for Homecoming Scotland 2009 to boost international and domestic tourism in support of the Scottish economy by restoring full access to apprenticeships in the tourism and hospitality industries, bringing an end to uncertainty around future funding of Scots language and arts organisations and detailing how they will measure the contribution of Homecoming Scotland 2009 to supporting sustainable economic growth in the course of this year and beyond.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 55, Against 62, Abstentions 3).

Gavin Brown moved amendment S3M-3173.2 to motion S3M-3173—

insert at end—

“; recognises that ensuring a lasting economic legacy will depend on capturing information on those who visit during the Year of Homecoming with a view to creating a substantial marketing database for engaging with the diaspora Scots going forward; further recognises that individual tourism providers will be the engines of economic growth generated as a result of the Homecoming, and urges the Scottish Government to ensure that the industry be fully engaged throughout.”

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

Iain Smith moved amendment S3M-3173.4 to motion S3M-3173—

insert at end—

“and calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward details of its plans to promote Homecoming in Scotland, the United Kingdom and abroad in order to achieve maximum economic benefit from the celebrations.”

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

After debate, the motion as amended was agreed to (DT).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament supports Scotland’s first ever homecoming celebration; recognises that the spectacular calendar of events and activities taking place this year from the weekend around Burns Night to St Andrew’s Day will make for a unique year for all those joining the celebrations, including the people living in Scotland, the diaspora Scots and those with an affinity for Scotland who visit in 2009; further recognises the potential for Homecoming Scotland 2009 to boost international and domestic tourism in support of the Scottish economy at this time; recognises that ensuring a lasting economic legacy will depend on capturing information on those who visit during the Year of Homecoming with a view to creating a substantial marketing database for engaging with the diaspora Scots going forward; further recognises that individual tourism providers will be the engines of economic growth generated as a result of the Homecoming; urges the Scottish Government to ensure that the industry be fully engaged throughout, and calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward details of its plans to promote Homecoming in Scotland, the United Kingdom and abroad in order to achieve maximum economic benefit from the celebrations.

2. The Humanitarian Disaster in Gaza: The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing (Nicola Sturgeon) moved S3M-3179—That the Parliament expresses its concern over the loss of all lives in the conflict in Gaza; joins the international community in calling for a ceasefire; acknowledges the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza; recognises and welcomes the role being played by those in Scotland involved in the humanitarian response, and supports the work of all charities and NGOs in Scotland that are responding to this situation.

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

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament expresses its concern over the loss of all lives in the conflict in Gaza; joins the international community in calling for a ceasefire; acknowledges the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza; recognises and welcomes the role being played by those in Scotland involved in the humanitarian response, and supports the work of all charities and NGOs in Scotland that are responding to this situation.

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 Europe, External Affairs and Culture and on Education and Lifelong Learning were answered by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.

6. Protecting Scotland’s Communities - The Scottish Government Offender Management Plan: The Cabinet Secretary for Justice moved S3M-3174—That the Parliament supports the Scottish Government's plan for delivering a coherent offender management strategy built on a robust regime of community penalties and payback and a strong and proportionate management for offenders sentenced to prison and welcomes the publication, on 17 December 2008, of Protecting Scotland's Communities: Fair, Fast and Flexible Justice, which sets out the Scottish Government's strategy to tackle reoffending and enhance public safety through a system that will deliver immediate, visible, effective, high quality, flexible and relevant justice.

Richard Baker moved amendment S3M-3174.1 to motion S3M-3174—

leave out from “supports” to end and insert—

 “expresses concern that the Scottish Government’s proposals for the abolition of six-month sentences are unworkable and will not improve community safety; agrees that it is right to seek to expand the provision of tough effective community sentences and payback but that to be effective such measures must be properly resourced and that this is not the case under current national and local funding settlements, and believes that any changes to the sentencing system must put first the delivery of justice and protecting the public.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 41, Against 79, Abstentions 0).

Bill Aitken moved amendment S3M-3174.2 to motion S3M-3174—

leave out from “supports” to end and insert—

“recognises that in some cases custody is the only appropriate disposal and prison should offer a greater opportunity for rehabilitation; believes that it is vital where community penalties are imposed that there is a much tighter and rigorous control of these orders, including making community penalties more robust and visible to the community and, in particular, to the victims of crime, and notes that only when these measures are in place will the public start to have more confidence in the criminal justice system.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 56, Against 63, Abstentions 0).

Robert Brown moved amendment S3M-3174.3 to motion S3M-3174—

leave out from “supports” to end and insert—

“welcomes the publication on 17 December 2008 of Protecting Scotland's Communities: Fair, Fast and Flexible Justice, which sets out the Scottish Government’s strategy to deliver a coherent offender management strategy built on a robust regime of community penalties and payback and proportionate management of offenders sentenced to prison; recognises that community sentences that are completed speedily and enforced with rigour offer greater benefits to communities and individuals than short prison sentences and that their planned expansion must be adequately resourced; calls on the Scottish Government to incorporate in its offender management strategy effective action to tackle the underlying causes of crime and factors and circumstances known to have a link with offending behaviour; reaffirms the importance of judicial independence free from executive direction, and looks forward to constructive engagement with the Scottish Government on the detailed implementation of the programme.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 62, Against 56, Abstentions 1).

After debate, the motion as amended was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 62, Against 57, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament welcomes the publication on 17 December 2008 of Protecting Scotland's Communities: Fair, Fast and Flexible Justice, which sets out the Scottish Government’s strategy to deliver a coherent offender management strategy built on a robust regime of community penalties and payback and proportionate management of offenders sentenced to prison; recognises that community sentences that are completed speedily and enforced with rigour offer greater benefits to communities and individuals than short prison sentences and that their planned expansion must be adequately resourced; calls on the Scottish Government to incorporate in its offender management strategy effective action to tackle the underlying causes of crime and factors and circumstances known to have a link with offending behaviour; reaffirms the importance of judicial independence free from executive direction, and looks forward to constructive engagement with the Scottish Government on the detailed implementation of the programme.

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

8. Aberdeen Forensic Science Laboratory: The Parliament debated S3M-2957 in the name of Lewis Macdonald—That the Parliament notes the proposals made by the Scottish Police Services Authority for the closure of the forensic science laboratory in Aberdeen; welcomes the direction issued by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to the authority in May 2008 that it should engage in fresh consultation with interested parties; considers, with regret, that the authority’s consultation document published in November 2008 amounts to no more than a further case for closure; believes that the authority has thereby appeared to suggest that the conclusion of its consultation has already been determined in favour of closure, and further believes that the continued provision of forensic services to Grampian Police and Northern Constabulary by the forensic laboratory in Aberdeen is one of a number of options worthy of proper consideration in a meaningful consultation process.

9. Motion without Notice: Lewis Macdonald moved without notice that, under Rule 8.14.3, the debate be extended until 6.01 pm. The motion was agreed to.

The meeting closed at 6.01 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
8 January 2009

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