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Minutes of Proceedings Vol. 4, No. 28 Session 3

Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 28 October 2010

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Support for Business: Jeremy Purvis moved S3M-7273—That the Parliament notes that there has been a stark increase in appeals to valuation boards over non-domestic rates following the 2010 revaluation, with approximately 30% of businesses appealing the new rates; believes that the increase in appeals reflects the fact that a lack of transitional relief has caused serious cash-flow problems for businesses and concerns that jobs will be lost; shares the view of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce that small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) support is not a substitute for transitional relief for the hardest hit; notes that the Scottish Government’s net income from non-domestic rates has increased by £150 million following the revaluation, despite Scottish ministers’ claims that the revaluation is revenue neutral, and calls on the Scottish Government to work constructively with Scotland’s business community to agree and deliver a transitional rates relief scheme and to identify ways in which to improve the revaluation process for the future.

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney) moved amendment S3M-7273.2 to motion S3M-7273—

Leave out from “notes” to end and insert—

“commends the vital role that small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) play in the Scottish economy and their importance in building economic recovery; recognises that the full savings due to that sector as a result of revaluationhave been passed to businesses, and recognises that thegeneral trend of the revaluation has been toreduce the tax burden for SMEs and that the total savingsforthe 87,500 SMEpropertiesthat saw bills fall was £124 million.”

Derek Brownlee moved amendment S3M-7273.1 to motion S3M-7273—

Leave out from “that there has” to end and insert—

“the level of appeals against non-domestic rating valuations following the 2010 revaluation; believes that no business should see its bill increase to fund a transitional relief scheme introduced within the revaluation period;believes that the revaluation should be revenue neutral and calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that this is the case, and calls on the Scottish Government to review the issues around the 2010 revaluation, in particular those concerning the time difference between notification of non-domestic rates liability and the liability entering into force, with a view to reforming the business rates system in Scotland.”

After debate, amendment S3M-7273.2 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 45, Against 43, Abstentions 18). As a result amendment S3M-7273.1 was pre-empted.

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 60, Against 44, Abstentions 3).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament commends the vital role that small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) play in the Scottish economy and their importance in building economic recovery; recognises that the full savings due to that sector as a result of revaluation have been passed to businesses, and recognises that the general trend of the revaluation has been to reduce the tax burden for SMEs and that the total savings for the 87,500 SME properties that saw bills fall was £124 million.

2. Renewable Energy: Liam McArthur moved S3M-7269—That the Parliament welcomes the commitment of the UK Government to allow the Fossil Fuel Levy surplus to be deployed for its purpose of supporting renewables in Scotland by delivering £250 million of additional funding for Scotland through the green investment bank; recognises that this offer will provide substantial additional resources for Scotland, in excess of the accumulated £180 million Fossil Fuel Levy surplus, and represents significant progress in releasing these funds to Scotland; supports the early establishment of the green investment bank, and calls on the Scottish Government to signal its agreement in principle to this offer and agree to draw down the existing and future surpluses to fund spending on renewables.

The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson) moved amendment S3M-7269.1 to motion S3M-7269—

Leave out from “welcomes” to end and insert—

“notes Scotland’s massive renewable energy resources and the opportunities to turn Scotland into Europe’s clean green energy powerhouse; notes the UK Government’s proposals that would result in Scotland’s Fossil Fuel Levy fund helping to form part of a wider UK green investment bank fund that is due to be established in 2013-14; notes the lack of detail underlying that commitment and the risk that this could delay vital funding for the renewables sector in Scotland for several years, and calls urgently on the UK Government to release these funds and place them in the control of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament in a way that can be rapidly deployed to support Scotland’s renewable energy sector.”

Lewis Macdonald moved amendment S3M-7269.1.1 to amendment S3M-7269.1—

Insert at end—

“, and believes that the green investment bank should be established as soon as possible and should be based in Edinburgh.”

Patrick Harvie moved amendment S3M-7269.1.2 to amendment S3M-7269.1—

Insert at end—

“believes that, by cutting the money available to the green investment bank, replacing a small proportion of this cut with money already set aside for investment in Scotland and then further cutting the Scottish block grant if this money is actually spent in Scotland, the UK Government is attempting a transparent act of sleight-of-hand that the Scottish Liberal Democrats should be ashamed to support.”

After debate, amendment S3M-7269.1.1 to amendment S3M-7269.1 was agreed to (DT).

Amendment S3M-7269.1.2 to amendment S3M-7269.1 was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 48, Against 30, Abstentions 29).

Amendment S3M-7269.1, as amended, was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 30, Abstentions 0).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 30, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes Scotland’s massive renewable energy resources and the opportunities to turn Scotland into Europe’s clean green energy powerhouse; notes the UK Government’s proposals that would result in Scotland’s Fossil Fuel Levy fund helping to form part of a wider UK green investment bank fund that is due to be established in 2013-14; notes the lack of detail underlying that commitment and the risk that this could delay vital funding for the renewables sector in Scotland for several years; calls urgently on the UK Government to release these funds and place them in the control of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament in a way that can be rapidly deployed to support Scotland’s renewable energy sector; believes that the green investment bank should be established as soon as possible and should be based in Edinburgh, and further believes that, by cutting the money available to the green investment bank, replacing a small proportion of this cut with money already set aside for investment in Scotland and then further cutting the Scottish block grant if this money is actually spent in Scotland, the UK Government is attempting a transparent act of sleight-of-hand that the Scottish Liberal Democrats should be ashamed to support.

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. Carers and Young Carers Strategy: The Minister for Public Health and Sport (Shona Robison) moved S3M-7272—That the Parliament welcomes the publication, in July 2010, of the carers and young carers strategy for Scotland for 2010 to 2015, Caring Together and Getting It Right For Young Carers; notes that this strategy has been produced jointly with COSLA and informed by a wide range of stakeholders; recognises the importance of providing effective and timely support to Scotland's estimated 657,000 unpaid carers in order to sustain them in their vital role in caring for relatives or friends affected by disability, illness or substance misuse, a role that benefits their families, local communities, Scottish society and the economy, and agrees that young carers should be relieved of inappropriate caring roles and supported to be children and young people first and foremost.

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

7. Ministerial Statement: The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney) made a statement and answered questions on the Economic and Social Impact of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

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

9. Addressing Young Offenders’ Communication Support Needs: The Parliament debated S3M-7235 in the name of Willie Coffey—That the Parliament acknowledges the evidence presented by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and supported by the Prison Reform Trust in respect of the high levels of communication support needs (CSN) among young offenders; recognises the impact of CSN on levels of offending behaviour and recidivism among young people and considers that unaddressed CSN create barriers to crime diversion and prevention initiatives, education, employment and rehabilitation; further recognises the impact effective communication support services, including speech and language therapy (SLT), can have on helping prevent young people from getting involved in offending behaviour and in managing and supporting their rehabilitation; is concerned that there is not a comprehensive communication support service throughout the Scottish justice system, with SLT consistently available only at Polmont Young Offenders Institute and Cornton Vale while offenders in other establishments receive SLT only by local arrangement despite evidence, for example, that at least 66% of young offenders have significant CSN, and believes that there is a strong case for a pilot CSN service for criminal justice services in a defined area of Scotland, such as the South West Scotland Criminal Justice Authority area, which covers the Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency, given that young offenders from Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway form the second largest geographical group in Polmont Young Offenders Institute, in order to determine the most effective and economic communication support service model for Scotland’s justice system, including an evaluation of the impact of the pilot on crime diversion and prevention, passage through the courts, engagement in rehabilitation and outcomes in terms of recidivism.

The meeting closed at 5.35 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
28 October 2010

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

Section H – New Documents

Other Documents

The following documents were laid before the Parliament on 28 October 2010 and are not subject to any Parliamentary procedure––

Registers of Scotland Annual Report and Accounts 2009-2010 (SG/2010/231)—

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Annual Report and Consolidated Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2010 (SG/2010/237)—

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 2009-10 Audit Annual Report to the Board of Trustees and the Auditor General for Scotland (SG/2010/238)—

laid under section 22(5) of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 28 October 2010­­­­––

Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 8th Report, 2010 (Session 3): Stage 1 report on the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill (SP Paper 505)

Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 9th Report, 2010 (Session 3): Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 506)

Subordinate Legislation Committee, 52nd Report, 2010 (Session 3): Palliative Care (Scotland) Bill (SPPaper 508)

For further information on accessing committee reports, please contact either the relevant clerk or webpage (see end of Bulletin for contact details or access the general committee webpage).

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/index.htm