Select here to go directly to the document text
 
 Home > Parliamentary Business > The Chamber > Journal & Minutes > ..back
Minutes of Proceedings Vol. 3, No. 66 Session 3

Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 15 April 2010

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Supporting Business: Jeremy Purvis moved S3M-6140—That the Parliament notes the crippling increases in non-domestic rates bills in Scotland, particularly in hospitality, tourism, auction mart and petrol station businesses; further notes the increases in the Scottish Budget resulting from the 2010 UK Budget, and calls on the Scottish Government to cap 2010-11 business rates increases at 12.5%, or 5% for small businesses, while allowing those who gain under the revaluation to see the benefits immediately.

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney) moved amendment S3M-6140.1 to motion S3M-6140—

Leave out from "crippling" to end and insert—

"measures that the Scottish Government has put in place to support Scottish businesses as part of its economic recovery plan, including setting the lowest business rate poundage ever, saving businesses well over £200 million in 2010-11 alone, and putting in place a package of relief measures worth around an additional £2.4 billion over the next five years, including a new renewable relief scheme and extending the small business bonus scheme, which means that half of all businesses will receive a discounted bill this year and well over a quarter of businesses properties will pay no rates at all; recognises that the merits of a transitional relief scheme are outweighed by the disadvantages, and recognises that the measures that have been put in place, taken together, represent the most generous package of business rates support available in the United Kingdom."

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 44, Against 68, Abstentions 1).

Derek Brownlee moved amendment S3M-6140.2 to motion S3M-6140—

Leave out from first "notes" to end and insert—

"recognises that some businesses have seen significant increases in their pre-appeal valuations as a result of revaluation and encourages those businesses to appeal their valuation where appropriate; welcomes the fact that the policy of the previous Scottish administration to levy a higher rate poundage than in England has been abandoned; welcomes the reductions in small business rates from 2008, delivered despite the opposition of some in the Parliament; does not believe that small businesses should see their rates bill increase to cross-subsidise the public sector or very large commercial organisations such as the major supermarkets; believes that any further reductions in business rate liabilities should be targeted by extending the small business rates relief and the rural rate relief scheme, and calls on the Scottish Government to assess the scope within the projected business rate income for this and future financial years to finance such an extension and to report to the Parliament the results of that assessment."

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 16, Against 96, Abstentions 1).

The motion was then disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 50, Against 62, Abstentions 1).

2. Fuel Prices: Liam McArthur moved S3M-6142—That the Parliament notes the AA report of 8 April 2010 that indicates that the average price of petrol in the United Kingdom has reached an all-time high and is likely to rise still further; recognises the high premium over the national average paid for fuel at filling stations in remote rural and, particularly, island communities; regrets the damaging financial and social impact that this has on individuals and businesses in these areas; further regrets the lack of progress that has been made on efforts to find a mechanism to reduce the price of fuel in specified remote rural and island areas of Scotland, and calls on the Scottish Government to hold urgent discussions with the UK Government and the European Commission to construct a mechanism, under the EU energy products directive or otherwise, to reduce the fuel price differential between remote rural and island communities and urban areas of the UK.

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson) moved amendment S3M-6142.2 to motion S3M-6142—

After second "mechanism" insert—

", including consideration of a fair fuel regulator".

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 60, Against 38, Abstentions 15).

Alex Johnstone moved amendment S3M-6142.1 to motion S3M-6142—

Leave out from "and calls" to end and insert—

"as a result of the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party voting against Conservative amendment S3M-4006.1 on 30 April 2009, which called on the Scottish Government to report back to the Parliament on the extent to which a fuel duty derogation for rural areas would be permissible under EU law and what impact such a derogation would have on carbon emissions and the Scottish Government, and welcomes the commitment of a future Conservative government at Westminster in relation to the introduction of a fair fuel stabiliser."

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 16, Against 96, Abstentions 1).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 73, Against 38, Abstentions 1).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes the AA report of 8 April 2010 that indicates that the average price of petrol in the United Kingdom has reached an all-time high and is likely to rise still further; recognises the high premium over the national average paid for fuel at filling stations in remote rural and, particularly, island communities; regrets the damaging financial and social impact that this has on individuals and businesses in these areas; further regrets the lack of progress that has been made on efforts to find a mechanism to reduce the price of fuel in specified remote rural and island areas of Scotland, and calls on the Scottish Government to hold urgent discussions with the UK Government and the European Commission to construct a mechanism, including consideration of a fair fuel regulator, under the EU energy products directive or otherwise, to reduce the fuel price differential between remote rural and island communities and urban areas of the UK.

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 Finance and Sustainable Growth were answered by the Cabinet Secretary and Ministers.

6. Gaelic - An Action Plan for Gaelic: The Minister for Culture and External Affairs (Fiona Hyslop) moved S3M-6143—That the Parliament recognises that Gaelic is more than a language and, as such, it strengthens and enriches many aspects of Scotland's social, cultural and economic life; also recognises that the current condition of Gaelic needs urgent attention, and welcomes the programme of action provided by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which is designed to achieve the outcome of increasing the number of Gaelic speakers and bring renewed attention to the important place that Gaelic holds in Scotland.

Pauline McNeill moved amendment S3M-6143.2 to motion S3M-6143—

Insert at end—

"and calls on the Scottish Government to keep the funding for Bòrd na Gàidhlig under review in light of the Gaelic language targets."

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

Ted Brocklebank moved amendment S3M-6143.1 to motion S3M-6143—

Insert at end—

"and recommends that the Parliament and Bòrd na Gàidhlig pay close attention to the New Zealand Government’s successful initiatives to increase the numbers of Maori language speakers."

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

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

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises that Gaelic is more than a language and, as such, it strengthens and enriches many aspects of Scotland's social, cultural and economic life; also recognises that the current condition of Gaelic needs urgent attention; welcomes the programme of action provided by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which is designed to achieve the outcome of increasing the number of Gaelic speakers and bring renewed attention to the important place that Gaelic holds in Scotland; calls on the Scottish Government to keep the funding for Bòrd na Gàidhlig under review in light of the Gaelic language targets, and recommends that the Parliament and Bòrd na Gàidhlig pay close attention to the New Zealand Government’s successful initiatives to increase the numbers of Maori language speakers.

7. Emergency Ministerial Statement: The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney), under Rule 13.2.2, made a statement and answered questions on the Volcanic Cloud.

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

9. 450th Anniversary of the Reformation: The Parliament debated S3M-5759 in the name of Nigel Don—That the Parliament welcomes the World Reformed Fellowship conference in Edinburgh; notes that 2010 marks the 450th anniversary of the reformation in Scotland; considers that the reformers’ passion for opening up the scriptures to all Scots led to a drive towards improved literacy and that within one hundred years schools were established in parishes across Scotland; further considers that the reformers’ emphasis on free thinking and an individual’s relationship with God arguably helped pave the way for the enquiry, investigation and freedom of conscience associated with the Scottish enlightenment, and therefore pays tribute to the men and women of the reformation for their contribution in laying the foundations of modern Scottish society.

The meeting closed at 5.51 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
15 April 2010