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Minutes of Proceedings Vol. 3, No. 56 Session 3

Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 25 February 2010

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Education: Margaret Smith moved S3M-5809—That the Parliament supports the full and effective implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence; notes the ongoing concerns of teaching unions, education academics and parents’ organisations about the lack of clarity and the impact of education budget cuts and reduced teacher numbers and training places on implementation plans; agrees that it is essential that the new curriculum and assessment arrangements, including literacy and numeracy tests, are properly resourced over the full four years and that teachers are given the required continuing professional development and support; believes that if this cannot be guaranteed then the Scottish Government must be prepared to give the implementation process more time, and recommends that the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning take advice about the timetable from the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board with a view to making a final decision about the timetable for the introduction of the new curriculum by Easter.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning (Michael Russell) moved amendment S3M-5809.3 to motion S3M-5809—

Leave out "by Easter" and insert—

"within a reasonable timeframe over the next few months".

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

Ken Macintosh moved amendment S3M-5809.2 to motion S3M-5809—

Leave out from "and that teachers" to end and insert—

"believes that the professional development of teachers and the updating of their skills is vital to successful implementation; asks the Scottish Government, in conjunction with local authorities, to ensure that the continuing professional development needed to underpin the Curriculum for Excellence is put in place; considers that greater clarity is urgently needed for teachers and parents regarding the impact on subject choice in secondary schools and the standards that will be set for the new levels of qualification, together with reassurance that the necessary resources will be made available, and asks that consideration is given to greater consultation with parents and the involvement of parent representatives in the management and co-ordination of the implementation process."

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 35, Against 77, Abstentions 0).

Elizabeth Smith moved amendment S3M-5809.1 to motion S3M-5809—

Insert at end—

", and further seeks an assurance from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning that the reform of the exam system accompanying the Curriculum for Excellence will provide sufficient academic rigour and skills-based testing so as to ensure the highest possible standards of attainment in Scottish schools."

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

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to (DT).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament supports the full and effective implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence; notes the ongoing concerns of teaching unions, education academics and parents’ organisations about the lack of clarity and the impact of education budget cuts and reduced teacher numbers and training places on implementation plans; agrees that it is essential that the new curriculum and assessment arrangements, including literacy and numeracy tests, are properly resourced over the full four years and that teachers are given the required continuing professional development and support; believes that if this cannot be guaranteed then the Scottish Government must be prepared to give the implementation process more time; recommends that the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning take advice about the timetable from the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board with a view to making a final decision about the timetable for the introduction of the new curriculum within a reasonable timeframe over the next few months, and further seeks an assurance from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning that the reform of the exam system accompanying the Curriculum for Excellence will provide sufficient academic rigour and skills-based testing so as to ensure the highest possible standards of attainment in Scottish schools.

2. Justice: Robert Brown moved S3M-5808—That the Parliament is concerned at the decision of the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police to issue Taser guns to 30 frontline police officers following a three-day training course; recognises the considerable concerns about the safety of Tasers raised by Amnesty International and Epilepsy Scotland among others; notes the view of the First Minister that this is an operational matter for chief constables, requiring no involvement of Scottish ministers; further notes that it was the Home Secretary who had responsibility for signing off the issuing of Tasers to more frontline police officers following a similar pilot in England and Wales; recognises that the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) currently subscribes to guidance on the deployment of firearms and less lethal weapons issued by the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO); believes that three days of training is not sufficient for officers with no previous training or experience of handling firearms, and further believes that extending the use of Tasers beyond firearms officers represents a shift in policy, not an operational decision, and requires ministerial sanction following debate in the Parliament.

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Kenny MacAskill) moved amendment S3M-5808.2 to motion S3M-5808—

Leave out from "is concerned" to end and insert—

"recognises that firearms legislation is reserved and that Strathclyde Policeis entitled to exercise operational discretion over the use of Tasers under this reserved legislation and notes the role of local police authorities and joint boards in scrutinising Scottish police forces."

Bill Aitken moved amendment S3M-5808.2.1 to amendment S3M-5808.2—

Insert at end—

"; further notes that in 2006-07 there were 12,974 recorded assaults on police officers across Scotland, which was an increase of 58% between 2000-01 and 2006-07; believes that Tasers provide a less lethal option than firearms where police officers are facing violent or armed suspects and need to incapacitate them, and awaits the results of the pilot being run in Strathclyde, which sees 30 police officers being armed with Tasers after appropriate training."

Richard Baker moved amendment S3M-5808.1 to motion S3M-5808—

Leave out from "is concerned" to end and insert—

"notes the decision of the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police to issue Taser guns to 30 specially selected frontline police officers after being trained over a three-day period on their proper use; recognises that this is a six-month pilot with the aim of reducing the number of assaults on officers and notes that an average of 4,000 Strathclyde Police officers have been assaulted in each of the last four years; recognises that a full evaluation of the pilot will take place at its conclusion and only then will a decision be made about rolling it out force-wide; believes that there must be a careful evaluation of the results of the pilot, including assessment of any risks, and transparency regarding those results before any decision is made on whether to extend the use of Tasers; further believes that there should be discussion not only between ministers and Strathclyde Police before a final decision is reached, but also with the Parliament and the Strathclyde Police Authority."

After debate, amendment S3M-5808.2.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 60, Against 16, Abstentions 35).

Amendment S3M-5808.2, as amended, was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 61, Against 16, Abstentions 35). As a result, amendment S3M-5808.1 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 61, Against 16, Abstentions 35).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises that firearms legislation is reserved and that Strathclyde Policeis entitled to exercise operational discretion over the use of Tasers under this reserved legislation and notes the role of local police authorities and joint boards in scrutinising Scottish police forces; further notes that in 2006-07 there were 12,974 recorded assaults on police officers across Scotland, which was an increase of 58% between 2000-01 and 2006-07; believes that Tasers provide a less lethal option than firearms where police officers are facing violent or armed suspects and need to incapacitate them, and awaits the results of the pilot being run in Strathclyde, which sees 30 police officers being armed with Tasers after appropriate training.

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

6. Brian Pack Inquiry - Single Farm Payment: The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment (Richard Lochhead) moved S3M-5807—That the Parliament notes the publication of the Interim Report by the Inquiry into Future Support for Agriculture in Scotland; acknowledges the considerable work that has gone into producing this comprehensive and considered report, and welcomes the inquiry’s continuing commitment to extensive stakeholder engagement on the future application of the Common Agricultural Policy in Scotland.

Sarah Boyack moved amendment S3M-5807.4 to motion S3M-5807—

Insert at end—

"; recognises the need for any future framework to ensure a sustainable farming sector within vibrant rural communities; acknowledges the challenges posed by climate change and food security, and calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that there is a clear focus on the supply of healthy, affordable food produced as locally as possible with good environmental stewardship."

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

John Scott moved amendment S3M-5807.2 to motion S3M-5807—

Insert at end—

", while noting that as Scotland moves to an area-based payment scheme there will be redistribution of existing support, and therefore encourages the Scottish Government to ensure that the process of redistribution is as equitable as possible and takes particular account of the Less Favoured Areas."

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

Liam McArthur moved amendment S3M-5807.3 to motion S3M-5807—

Insert at end—

"; notes concerns over the possible removal of funding from active farmers and crofters; recognises, however, that the report makes a strong case for the ongoing direct support of agriculture and food production and therefore believes that the overall level of Single Farm Payment funding should be maintained, and opposes any reduction in agricultural spending through the CAP."

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 14, Against 98, Abstentions 0).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to (DT).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes the publication of the Interim Report by the Inquiry into Future Support for Agriculture in Scotland; acknowledges the considerable work that has gone into producing this comprehensive and considered report, and welcomes the inquiry’s continuing commitment to extensive stakeholder engagement on the future application of the Common Agricultural Policy in Scotland; recognises the need for any future framework to ensure a sustainable farming sector within vibrant rural communities; acknowledges the challenges posed by climate change and food security, and calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that there is a clear focus on the supply of healthy, affordable food produced as locally as possible with good environmental stewardship, while noting that as Scotland moves to an area-based payment scheme there will be redistribution of existing support, and therefore encourages the Scottish Government to ensure that the process of redistribution is as equitable as possible and takes particular account of the Less Favoured Areas.

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

8. Perth 800: The Parliament debated S3M-5459 in the name of Murdo Fraser—That the Parliament notes that 2010 marks the 800th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Burgh Charter to Perth; welcomes the launch of Perth 800, Perth and Kinross Council’s year-long programme of events and activities to celebrate this monumental anniversary; believes that the celebrations will allow Perth to showcase to the rest of the United Kingdom that Perth is one of the best places to live, visit and do business; further welcomes Perth 800 being used to progress Perth’s bid to gain official city status; considers that official city status will reflect Perth as being one of Scotland’s leading places for business, education, art, culture and sport, and supports Perth’s bid to become a city during HM the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The meeting closed at 5.43 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
25 February 2010

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

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instruments were laid before the Parliament on 25 February 2010 and are subject to annulment—

The Criminal Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2010 (SSI2010/63)

laid under section 37 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986

The Police Grant (Scotland) Order 2010 (SSI 2010/64)

laid under section 32(8) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967

The Beet Seed (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (SSI 2010/67)

laid under section 16(1) of the Plant Varieties and Seeds Act 1964

The Road Works (Inspection Fees) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2010 (SSI2010/68)

laid under section 163(2) of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991

Other Documents

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 25 February 2010 and is not subject to any parliamentary procedure

The Police Grant (Scotland) Order 2010: Report by the Scottish Ministers under section 32(6) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967 (SG/2010/21)

laid under section 32(9) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967

Legislative Consent Memorandum

The following memorandum was lodged on 25 February 2010

Kenny MacAskill MSP: Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Amendment) Bill (UK Parliament Legislation) (LCM(S3) 28.1)

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 25 February 2010—

Local Government and Communities Committee, 3rd Report, 2010 (Session 3): Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 391)

Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, 2nd Report, 2010 (Session 3): Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 392)