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Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 7 May 2009

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. School Discipline: Elizabeth Smith moved S3M-4067—That the Parliament deplores the rise in the number of exclusions from Scottish schools attributable to weapon attacks by pupils; notes the growing concern expressed by teachers and parents that serious and persistent offenders are not being punished appropriately; calls on the Scottish Government to publish detailed information at regular intervals on the level of reported physical and verbal attacks in schools, as called for by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning when in opposition, and believes that the Scottish Government should devolve more power to head teachers to deal with indiscipline in schools.

The Minister for Schools and Skills (Keith Brown) moved amendment S3M-4067.3 to motion S3M-4067—

leave out from “as called” to end and insert—

“welcomes the 11% reduction in exclusions from Scottish schools from 2006-07 to 2007-08; acknowledges that appropriate support should be provided to the small number of children and young people who persistently misbehave; further acknowledges that head teachers already have considerable power over school discipline through their responsibility for school discipline policies and their devolved responsibility for excluding pupils; agrees that the future policy on behaviour in schools should be informed by the survey currently being conducted by the University of Edinburgh on behalf of the Scottish Government, which will provide in-depth information on this area, and further welcomes the comments in the HM Inspectorate of Education report, Improving Scottish Education 2005-2008, in relation to secondary schools, which states “In almost all schools, climate and relationships are constructive and encouraging. While many schools have small numbers of young people with particularly challenging behaviour, any issues arising are usually handled effectively. Most schools have clear and concerted strategies for promoting positive behaviour”.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 48, Against 71, Abstentions 0).

Ken Macintosh moved amendment S3M-4067.1 to motion S3M-4067—

leave out from “notes” to end and insert—

“supports all appropriate measures to uphold the rights of teachers to teach and pupils to learn in a disciplined environment; notes the significant steps made by the previous administration to achieve this including the setting up of the Discipline Task Group, the removal of restrictions on head teachers to exclude pupils if necessary, the use of special units, support for teacher training, reduced class sizes and more classroom assistants, and calls on the Scottish Government to address the recent decline in teacher numbers and support staff, including behaviour support staff, and to work in partnership with key stakeholders to put in place a framework for a discipline code in every school incorporating rights and responsibilities for head teachers, teachers, parents and pupils.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 89, Against 16, Abstentions 14).

Margaret Smith moved amendment S3M-4067.2 to motion S3M-4067—

insert at end—

“and further believes that the Scottish Government should engage closely with pupils, staff, the voluntary sector and other partner organisations to improve formal and non-formal learning opportunities for young people to ensure that they are not excluded from education.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 78, Against 41, Abstentions 0).

After debate, the motion as amended was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 102, Against 16, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament deplores the rise in the number of exclusions from Scottish schools attributable to weapon attacks by pupils; supports all appropriate measures to uphold the rights of teachers to teach and pupils to learn in a disciplined environment; notes the significant steps made by the previous administration to achieve this including the setting up of the Discipline Task Group, the removal of restrictions on head teachers to exclude pupils if necessary, the use of special units, support for teacher training, reduced class sizes and more classroom assistants; calls on the Scottish Government to address the recent decline in teacher numbers and support staff, including behaviour support staff, and to work in partnership with key stakeholders to put in place a framework for a discipline code in every school incorporating rights and responsibilities for head teachers, teachers, parents and pupils, and further believes that the Scottish Government should engage closely with pupils, staff, the voluntary sector and other partner organisations to improve formal and non-formal learning opportunities for young people to ensure that they are not excluded from education.

2. Community Courts: Bill Aitken moved S3M-4065—That the Parliament notes with regret the decision of the Scottish Government not to proceed with the establishment of a community court in Glasgow; recognises that community courts based on the New York City model in Midtown can address patterns of offending behaviour by providing for swift and effective summary justice coupled with a range of rehabilitation services to break the cycle of reoffending, and believes that the recent action taken by the Scottish Government demonstrates its incoherent approach towards addressing crime and the causes of crime and to providing viable and robust alternatives to custody.

The Minister for Community Safety (Fergus Ewing) moved amendment S3M-4065.3 to motion S3M-4065—

leave out from “notes” to end and insert—

“recognises that community courts based on the New York City model in Midtown can help to address patterns of offending behaviour by providing for swift and effective summary justice coupled with a range of rehabilitation services to break the cycle of reoffending; notes the decision by the project board for the Glasgow Community Justice Centre that in the current economic circumstances they should not proceed with the development of a new court building, and supports the joint work underway between Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to identify how best offenders can pay back for their crimes to the communities most in need of reinvestment and local services can be directed to support offenders out of a life of crime.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 46, Against 73, Abstentions 0).

Richard Baker moved amendment S3M-4065.1 to motion S3M-4065—

insert at end—

“and further believes that the Scottish Government should reverse its decision and seek to progress plans for a community court in Glasgow.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 73, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

Robert Brown moved amendment S3M-4065.2 to motion S3M-4065—

leave out from “and believes” to “custody” and insert—

“notes that the independent business plan in March 2009 anticipated numerous benefits from a community court project, including improved community safety, greater offender accountability and reduced rates of reoffending; believes that the cancellation of the community court project also undermines the Scottish Government’s own stated commitment to replace short-term prison sentences with tough and effective community sentences, and calls on the Scottish Government to continue to work with the Community Justice Project Board.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 73, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

After debate, the motion as amended was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 73, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes with regret the decision of the Scottish Government not to proceed with the establishment of a community court in Glasgow; recognises that community courts based on the New York City model in Midtown can address patterns of offending behaviour by providing for swift and effective summary justice coupled with a range of rehabilitation services to break the cycle of reoffending, notes that the independent business plan in March 2009 anticipated numerous benefits from a community court project, including improved community safety, greater offender accountability and reduced rates of reoffending; believes that the cancellation of the community court project also undermines the Scottish Government’s own stated commitment to replace short-term prison sentences with tough and effective community sentences; calls on the Scottish Government to continue to work with the Community Justice Project Board, and further believes that the Scottish Government should reverse its decision and seek to progress plans for a community court in Glasgow.

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. Climate Change (Scotland) Bill: The Parliament continued debating the general principles of the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill.

After debate, amendment 3963.2 in the name of Sarah Boyack was agreed to (DT).

After debate, amendment 3963.1 in the name of Alison McInnes was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 57, Against 62, Abstentions 0).

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

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill and, in so doing, further agrees that unambiguous quantified targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for the period between 2010 and 2019 are needed so that the current government and governments elected in 2011 and 2015 can be held to account for delivering early action on tackling climate change

7. Climate Change (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution: The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson) moved S3M-3923—That the Parliament, for the purposes of any Act of the Scottish Parliament resulting from the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill, agrees to any expenditure or increase in expenditure of a kind referred to in Rule 9.12.3(b)(ii) or (iii) of the Parliament’s Standing Orders arising in consequence of the Act.

The motion was agreed to (DT).

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

9. Proposed Part-privatisation of Royal Mail: The Parliament debated S3M-3691 in the name of Jamie Hepburn—That the Parliament notes the continuing debate at Westminster about the possible part-privatisation of the Royal Mail; further notes that over 170 MPs, including over 140 Labour members, have signed the Early Day Motion in the name of Geraldine Smith MP opposing the plans; welcomes the leading role played by the Communication Workers Union in the campaign against the proposals, and believes that any privatisation of the Royal Mail will have a detrimental effect on postal services in central Scotland and across the country.

The meeting closed at 5.58 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
7 May 2009

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

Legislative Consent Memorandums

The following memorandum was lodged on 7 May 2009

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing: Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Equality Bill (UK Parliament legislation) (LCM(S3) 20.1)

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 7 May 2009—

Rural Affairs and Environment Committee, 5th Report, 2009 (Session 3): Rural Housing (SP Paper 256)

Justice Committee, 9th Report, 2009 (Session 3): Report on the legislative consent memorandum on the Coroners and Justice Bill (LCM(S3)16.2) (SPPaper 257)