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Minutes of Proceedings Vol. 4, No. 46 Session 3

Meeting of the Parliament

Thursday 13 January 2011

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

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Education: Des McNulty moved S3M-7692—That the Parliament condemns the reduction in the number of teachers under the SNP by almost 3,000 since 2007 and the sharp rise in the proportion of recently qualified teachers who cannot obtain permanent or even temporary employment; notes that the percentage of newly qualified staff who have obtained full-time permanent posts has fallen to just 16.1%, a record low; expresses concern that pupil/teacher ratios are rising across Scotland and many colleges have insufficient bursary funds to meet demand, and calls on the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning to apologise for getting involved in local authority decisions outwith his regional constituency instead of tackling the impact that fewer teachers, more unemployed recently qualified teachers, higher pupil/teacher ratios and a shortfall in bursary funding will have on education in Scotland.

Michael Russell moved amendment S3M-7692.3 to motion S3M-7692—

Leave out from “condemns” to end and insert—

“recognises the difficulties caused by the previous administration's unsustainable approach to teacher unemployment; urges local authorities to take full advantage of the resources offered to stabilise teacher employment in this year’s local authority settlement; further recognises the fact that the teacher claimant count in Scotland is lower than in any other part of the United Kingdom and is now declining year on year; congratulates Scotland’s pupils on achieving a record Higher pass rate in 2010; further congratulates teachers, pupils and parents on the recent international attainment results showing that Scotland has turned the corner and halted the years of decline under Labour administrations; welcomes the focus on the critical early years of education with an increase of almost 20% in nursery provision, increased access to General Teaching Council for Scotland-registered teachers in nurseries and record low primary school class sizes giving more one-to-one time for pupils with their teacher; further welcomes the reduction in primary school pupil-teacher ratios since the last year of the last Labour administration; applauds the Scottish Government and local authorities’ completion of 330 school projects, lifting more than 120,000 pupils out of sub-standard accommodation by the end of this parliamentary session far outstripping the previous administration’s plans; further applauds the positive approach to rural schools demonstrated by the SNP government while noting that the previous Labour-Liberal Democrat administration did not save a single rural school from closure; commends the help given to the hardest-pressed families with the extension of entitlement to free school meals; further commends the range of positive developments delivered by the Scottish Government including 20,000 apprenticeship places, the introduction of the Scottish Baccalaureate, preserving the Educational Maintenance Allowance despite its abolition elsewhere in the UK, persevering with the roll-out of the Curriculum for Excellence despite opposition from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, the promotion of Scottish history and literacy in schools, the reform of the Children’s Hearings system, introduction of improved safeguards for vulnerable people through the new Protection of Vulnerable Groups disclosure system, roll-out of kinship care allowances, reduction in school exclusions, improved support for young people through the More Choices, More Chances initiative, record levels of school leavers entering positive destinations such as training despite the recent recession and introduction of the first national literacy action plan; reaffirms Scotland’s commitment to free education, established by the abolition of the graduate endowment, and rejects any move to shift the burden of cost of universities onto students’ shoulders.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 47, Against 78, Abstentions 0).

Elizabeth Smith moved amendment S3M-7692.1 to motion S3M-7692—

Leave out from “condemns” to end and insert—

“notes the SNP government’s failure to deliver on its education pledges; further notes that many of them were unrealistic, uncosted and the wrong priorities for pupils and parents; regrets that the Scottish Government has failed to bring forward any substantive reforms to school management, but recognises the educational benefits of “free schools” and of giving more decision-making powers and greater financial control to head teachers of all other publicly funded schools.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 18, Against 107, Abstentions 0).

Margaret Smith moved amendment S3M-7692.2 to motion S3M-7692—

Insert at end—

“; notes the inconsistent comments of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in relation to his role in local school closures, and calls on the Scottish Government to clarify the rules governing the involvement of the cabinet secretary in decisions to close local schools.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 77, Against 46, Abstentions 2).

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 60, Against 48, Abstentions 17).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament condemns the reduction in the number of teachers under the SNP by almost 3,000 since 2007 and the sharp rise in the proportion of recently qualified teachers who cannot obtain permanent or even temporary employment; notes that the percentage of newly qualified staff who have obtained full-time permanent posts has fallen to just 16.1%, a record low; expresses concern that pupil/teacher ratios are rising across Scotland and many colleges have insufficient bursary funds to meet demand, and calls on the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning to apologise for getting involved in local authority decisions outwith his regional constituency instead of tackling the impact that fewer teachers, more unemployed recently qualified teachers, higher pupil/teacher ratios and a shortfall in bursary funding will have on education in Scotland; notes the inconsistent comments of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in relation to his role in local school closures, and calls on the Scottish Government to clarify the rules governing the involvement of the cabinet secretary in decisions to close local schools.

2. General Question Time: Questions were answered by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.

3. First Minister’s Question Time: Questions were answered by the First Minister (Alex Salmond).

4. Themed Question Time: Questions on Health and Wellbeing were answered by the Cabinet Secretary and Ministers.

5. Electricity Market Reform: The Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism (Jim Mather) moved S3M-7693—That the Parliament notes the UK Government’s electricity market reform proposals and their importance to the delivery of the Parliament’s climate change and low-carbon energy objectives for Scotland; agrees that the related UK review of Ofgem and the transmission charging regime is an opportunity to deliver a more equitable system that is fit to help deliver Scotland’s massive low-carbon energy potential that will bring economic and other benefits to communities across Scotland; further notes the Parliament’s existing powers with regard to renewables and carbon capture and storage (CCS), which it believes should, at a minimum, be left intact; believes that the Parliament should continue to use these powers in support of the development of Scotland’s low-carbon energy potential; urges the UK Government to work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure that reforms further incentivise clean energy and incentivise energy demand reduction, as set out in the Draft Electricity Generation Policy Statement 2010; calls on the UK Government and Scottish Government to work together to help fulfil Scotland’s low-carbon potential, and further urges the UK Government to ensure full and immediate consultation with the Parliament on these proposals.

Lewis Macdonald moved amendment S3M-7693.3 to motion S3M-7693—

Leave out from “agrees” to end and insert—

“recognises the potential impact of these reforms on both existing and emerging low-carbon energy technologies; believes that it is essential that the best options are adopted for developing Scotland’s low-carbon energy potential and providing best value for consumers, and urges the UK Government to ensure full and immediate consultation with the Parliament and with producer and consumer interests in Scotland on the electricity market reform proposals.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 44, Against 80, Abstentions 1).

Gavin Brown moved amendment S3M-7693.1 to motion S3M-7693—

Leave out from “at a minimum” to end and insert—

“not be changed in any way that has a negative impact on Scotland; believes that the Parliament should continue to use these powers in support of the development of Scotland’s low-carbon energy potential; supports the continuation of nuclear power as a vital part of Scotland’s diverse energy mix, and calls on the UK Government and Scottish Government to work together to help fulfil Scotland’s low-carbon potential.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 16, Against 64, Abstentions 45).

Liam McArthur moved amendment S3M-7693.2 to motion S3M-7693—

Insert at end—

“and supports Longannet to become the UK’s first demonstration facility for CCS with up to £1 billion of UK Government funding.”

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

The motion, as amended, was then agreed to ((DT) by division: For 108, Against 16, Abstentions 1).

Accordingly, the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament notes the UK Government’s electricity market reform proposals and their importance to the delivery of the Parliament’s climate change and low-carbon energy objectives for Scotland; agrees that the related UK review of Ofgem and the transmission charging regime is an opportunity to deliver a more equitable system that is fit to help deliver Scotland’s massive low-carbon energy potential that will bring economic and other benefits to communities across Scotland; further notes the Parliament’s existing powers with regard to renewables and carbon capture and storage (CCS), which it believes should, at a minimum, be left intact; believes that the Parliament should continue to use these powers in support of the development of Scotland’s low-carbon energy potential; urges the UK Government to work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure that reforms further incentivise clean energy and incentivise energy demand reduction, as set out in the Draft Electricity Generation Policy Statement 2010; calls on the UK Government and Scottish Government to work together to help fulfil Scotland’s low-carbon potential, and further urges the UK Government to ensure full and immediate consultation with the Parliament on these proposals and supports Longannet to become the UK’s first demonstration facility for CCS with up to £1 billion of UK Government funding.

6. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 1 and 5 as noted above.

7. Freight Facilities Grants: The Parliament debated S3M-7567 in the name of Cathy Jamieson—That the Parliament celebrates the contribution of the Scottish Government’s Freight Facilities Grants (FFG) in moving freight to rail and sea, and the contribution that this makes to reducing carbon emissions and congestion; notes that 37 FFG awards totalling £68.9 million have been made to projects in Scotland and understands that this reduces the need for 33,573,500 lorry miles per year; recognises that Transport Scotland is in advanced discussions with a number of bidders to the fund, including a proposal by a social enterprise in South Ayrshire for a railhead at Grangestone by Girvan; believes that a Grangestone railhead could provide great economic and environmental benefits to South Ayrshire; regrets the Scottish Government’s proposals to reduce support for the freight industry from £10.3 million in 2010-11 to £2.9 million in 2011-12, including the closure of the FFG scheme for projects which will incur expenditure after 31 March 2011, and expresses great concern that this would put in jeopardy the work that has been done on the Grangestone railhead scheme and similar proposals across Scotland.

8. Motion without Notice: Cathy Jamieson moved without notice that, under Rule 8.14.3, the debate be extended by up to 30 minutes. The motion was agreed to.

The meeting closed at 6.02 pm.

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
13 January 2011

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

Subordinate Legislation

Negative Instruments

The following instrument was laid before the Parliament on 13 January 2011 and is subject to annulment

The Restriction of Liberty Order and Restricted Movement Requirement (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (SSI 2011/3)

laid under sections 227ZJ(3), 245A(14) and 245C(4) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995

Committee Reports

The following report was published on 13 January 2011

Local Government and Communities Committee, 1st Report, 2011 (Session 3): Subordinate Legislation (SP paper 558)