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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 19 March 2009

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Forestry: Sarah Boyack moved S3M-3727—That the Parliament notes the unanimous recommendation of the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee that the Scottish Government drop proposals for leasing up to 25% of the Forestry Commission estate for a period of 75 years; welcomes the decision of the Scottish Government to amend the Climate Change Bill to remove the relevant clauses, and calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward its review of the operation of the Scotland Rural Development Programme urgently, including reviewing the level awarded for grants, and to pursue proposals for joint ventures to deliver renewables projects in the Forestry Commission estate.

The Minister for Environment (Roseanna Cunningham) moved amendment S3M-3727.3 to motion S3M-3727—

after "years" insert—

"; notes that the Forestry Commission makes a major contribution to the economy of Scotland and can also make a major contribution towards helping Scotland meet its climate change targets".

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

John Scott moved amendment S3M-3727.2 to motion S3M-3727—

insert at end—

"and considers that all forestry proposals in future must be part of an integrated land-use strategy."

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

Jim Hume moved amendment S3M-3727.4 to motion S3M-3727—

insert at end—

"and further calls on the Scottish Government to introduce a comprehensive sustainable land-use strategy, taking into account the strategic economic, social and environmental impacts and benefits of forestry, agriculture, recreation and other land uses and setting out, where appropriate, the contribution each can make in dealing with the consequences of climate change."

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 notes the unanimous recommendation of the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee that the Scottish Government drop proposals for leasing up to 25% of the Forestry Commission estate for a period of 75 years; notes that the Forestry Commission makes a major contribution to the economy of Scotland and can also make a major contribution towards helping Scotland meet its climate change targets; welcomes the decision of the Scottish Government to amend the Climate Change Bill to remove the relevant clauses; calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward its review of the operation of the Scotland Rural Development Programme urgently, including reviewing the level awarded for grants, and to pursue proposals for joint ventures to deliver renewables projects in the Forestry Commission estate; considers that all forestry proposals in future must be part of an integrated land-use strategy, and further calls on the Scottish Government to introduce a comprehensive sustainable land-use strategy, taking into account the strategic economic, social and environmental impacts and benefits of forestry, agriculture, recreation and other land uses and setting out, where appropriate, the contribution each can make in dealing with the consequences of climate change.

2. Police Numbers: Richard Baker moved S3M-3726—That the Parliament believes that the Scottish Government must ensure that there are 17,265 full-time equivalent police officers by March 2011, calculated on the basis currently used by the Chief Statistician in the reporting of the official Police Officer Quarterly Strength Statistics, for the SNP's stated manifesto pledge for 1,000 more police officers to be met.

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Kenny MacAskill) moved amendment S3M-3726.1 to motion S3M-3726—

leave out from "believes" to end and insert—

"notes that police officer numbers are at a record high; welcomes the findings of the Police Force Projection Study that show that by March 2011 police officer numbers will have increased by more than 1,000 over the March 2007 level and will reach between 17,275 and 17,484 officers; commends the Scottish Government for its investment in funding 1,000 additional recruits; further commends the eight Scottish police forces for delivering additional police officers, and calls on the Scottish Government to continue to maximise the total number of police officers through a combination of recruitment, retention and redeployment."

Bill Aitken moved amendment S3M-3726.1.1 to motion S3M-3726.1—

leave out from first "commends" to "further" and insert—

"notes that this figure has been achieved as a result of the funding secured by the Scottish Conservatives in the 2008-09 budget negotiations;"

Robert Brown moved amendment S3M-3726.2 to motion S3M-3726—

insert at end—

"; notes the Police Force Projection Study carried out by the Scottish Government estimating that police officer numbers are likely to be between 17,275 and 17,484 by 31 March 2011; notes that the SNP’s attempt to alter its commitment to the delivery of the equivalent of 1,000 officers would not have achieved this result; welcomes the fact that the Scottish Government was forced by opposition parties and public opinion to firm up its commitment; regrets the Scottish Government’s repeated efforts to confuse and obfuscate the figures, noting that, as recently as 3 March 2009, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice cast further doubt on the Scottish Government’s intention and ability to achieve the target, and calls on the Scottish Government to work with the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland to retain skills and expertise in the police force through appropriate workforce planning and ensure that police officers are working effectively and visibly in Scotland’s local communities."

After debate, amendment 3726.1.1 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 16, Against 61, Abstentions 46).

After debate, amendment 3726.1 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 47, Against 60, Abstentions 16).

After debate amendment 3726.2 was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 65, Abstentions 0).

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

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. Science in Scotland: The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning (Fiona Hyslop) moved S3M-3728—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Scottish Government’s strategic framework for science, Science for Scotland, on 27 November 2008; agrees with its vision for Scotland as a nation of world-class scientific achievement, a magnet for talent and for investment and a powerhouse of technology, innovation, enterprise and increasing sustainable economic growth; supports the strong message that Science for Scotland sends out to Scotland and the world about this vision; agrees that maintaining a strong science base in Scotland is vital because it will underpin economic growth, help improve public services, enhance quality of life and help solve the world’s most pressing problems; notes the detailed ambitions and commitments made around the five themes of Science for Scotland about developing individuals, scientific research, economic and business demand, international profile and connections in Scotland and government; further notes that Science for Scotland calls to action many bodies and sectors of the economy and asks them to work with the Scottish Government to help progress the aspirations of Science for Scotland, and asks the Scottish Government to monitor and report to the Parliament on the progress being made.

Rhona Brankin moved amendment S3M-3728.1 to motion S3M-3728—

after "problems" insert—

"; agrees with the comments of the Royal Society of Edinburgh that "It is vital that Scotland remains an integral part of the UK science base", that the "integration offsets one of the problems of small countries in research, that they cannot be internationally competitive in all sectors of research and the businesses that rely on it" and that, consequently, "an attempt to devolve Research Council functions would be a seriously retrograde step"".

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 58, Against 64, Abstentions 1).

Elizabeth Smith moved amendment S3M-3728.3 to motion S3M-3728—

after fifth "Science for Scotland" insert—

"further notes the concern that some secondary schools in Scotland are reducing the availability of SQA Highers and Advanced Higher courses in science subjects".

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

Alison McInnes moved amendment S3M-3728.2 to motion S3M-3728—

after fifth "Science in Scotland" insert—

"; regrets that, although half a million women in the United Kingdom are qualified in either science, engineering or technology, less than a third work in those sectors, noting in particular the high fall-off rate at postdoctoral research level; calls on the Scottish Government to include within its strategy for science specific action to improve the participation and employment of women in the science sector".

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 welcomes the publication of the Scottish Government’s strategic framework for science, Science for Scotland, on 27 November 2008; agrees with its vision for Scotland as a nation of world-class scientific achievement, a magnet for talent and for investment and a powerhouse of technology, innovation, enterprise and increasing sustainable economic growth; supports the strong message that Science for Scotland sends out to Scotland and the world about this vision; agrees that maintaining a strong science base in Scotland is vital because it will underpin economic growth, help improve public services, enhance quality of life and help solve the world’s most pressing problems; notes the detailed ambitions and commitments made around the five themes of Science for Scotland about developing individuals, scientific research, economic and business demand, international profile and connections in Scotland and government; further notes that Science for Scotland calls to action many bodies and sectors of the economy and asks them to work with the Scottish Government to help progress the aspirations of Science for Scotland; further notes the concern that some secondary schools in Scotland are reducing the availability of SQA Highers and Advanced Higher courses in science subjects; regrets that, although half a million women in the United Kingdom are qualified in either science, engineering or technology, less than a third work in those sectors, noting in particular the high fall-off rate at postdoctoral research level; calls on the Scottish Government to include within its strategy for science specific action to improve the participation and employment of women in the science sector, and asks the Scottish Government to monitor and report to the Parliament on the progress being made.

7. Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill - UK Legislation: The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Kenny MacAskill) moved S3M-3652—That the Parliament agrees that the relevant provisions of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, introduced in the House of Lords on 14 January 2009, relating to the power of detention for individuals subject to an outstanding arrest warrant and their enforcement, so far as these matters fall within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, should be considered by the UK Parliament.

After debate, the motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 118, Against 2, Abstentions 1).

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

9. Loss of Jobs at Vion, Cambuslang: The Parliament debated S3M-3268 in the name of James Kelly—That the Parliament notes with concern the announcement by the Vion Food Group that 150 people are to be made redundant at the Grampian Country Foods factory in Cambuslang; recognises that this announcement has resulted from a reduction in orders from Marks and Spencer, and hopes that every assistance will be offered to the company, trade unions and the workforce at this difficult time.

10. Motion without Notice: James Kelly moved without notice that, under Rule 8.14.3, the debate be extended by up to 5 minutes. The motion was agreed to.

The meeting closed at 5.55 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
19 March 2009

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

Committee Reports

The following report was published on 19 March 2009––

Health and Sport Committee, 3rd Report, 2009 (Session 3): Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 239)