Back to the Scottish Parliament Business Bulletin No.57/2005: Thursday 14 April 2005
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Section A – Today’s Business

Meeting of the Parliament

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Scottish National Party Debate: Council Tax—

S2M-2693 Alasdair Morgan: Council Tax—That the Parliament notes that the council tax has increased by 55% since 1997; further notes that the council tax is a regressive form of local taxation which penalises those on low incomes and pensioners and is overwhelmingly rejected by the people of Scotland and that the revaluation of the council tax in Wales has resulted in more than one-third of properties moving up by one band or more, and agrees that there should be no revaluation of properties in Scotland and that the unfair council tax should be abolished and replaced by a fair system of local taxation.

The Presiding Officer has selected the following amendments

S2M-2693.1 Mr Tom McCabe: Council Tax—As an amendment to motion (S2M-2693) in the name of Alasdair Morgan, leave out from first “council tax” to end and insert “Scottish Executive has established the independent inquiry into local government finance consistent with the Partnership Agreement of May 2003; notes that, because of the ongoing inquiry, there are no plans for a council tax revaluation in Scotland; notes that the Labour Party has submitted clear and detailed proposals to support changes to the council tax and that the Liberal Democrats have submitted clear and detailed proposals to support a local income tax, and therefore encourages all parties and others to make submissions to the inquiry.”

S2M-2693.2 Mr Brian Monteith: Council Tax—As an amendment to motion (S2M-2693) in the name of Alasdair Morgan, leave out from “; further notes” to end and insert “and that it is this large rise, and not the tax itself, that has made the cost of local council services a greater political priority and a punishing burden for so many Scottish households; believes that to offer a sustainable and fair solution, therefore, a complete review is required of local authority responsibilities and direct payment of some of these by the Scottish Executive so that council tax may be substantially cut; notes that only the Conservatives are offering such a seismic shift by transferring the full cost of schools to the Executive’s Education Department which could result in a 35%, or £384, reduction in Band D council tax for every household, while proposals for a local income tax would maintain the existing total tax take and would only change who pays what amount, and believes that Labour’s proposal for the introduction of a new top band will place a disproportionate burden on a small minority, while a new lower band will be of major benefit to the Treasury through reduced council tax benefit payments.”

followed by Scottish National Party Debate: Nuclear Power—

S2M-2691 Richard Lochhead: Nuclear Power—That the Parliament notes that the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) is due to make its final report in July 2006; notes that the decision on where to locate sites for the long-term storage of nuclear waste is likely to be taken shortly after that date and that a number of potential sites in Scotland have been identified; notes that the UK Government is clearing the way to build new nuclear power stations; further notes that the UK Government has agreed to accept and store nuclear waste from overseas; agrees that only the Scottish Parliament can take the decision to locate any sites in Scotland for the long-term storage of nuclear waste, and rejects the need for a new nuclear power station in Scotland.

The Presiding Officer has selected the following amendments

S2M-2691.2 Mr Jim Wallace: Nuclear Power—As an amendment to motion (S2M-2691) in the name of Richard Lochhead, leave out from “that the Committee” to end and insert “the work of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management; welcomes the Scottish Executive’s study into present and future energy supply and demand in Scotland; endorses the Executive’s position of not supporting the further development of nuclear power stations while waste management issues remain unresolved; supports the Executive’s continuing commitment to the development of renewable energy in Scotland, including wind, wave, tidal, solar hydrogen, biofuels and biomass power, as a key element of a balanced energy supply portfolio; supports the Executive’s commitment to achieving 40% renewable electricity generation by 2020, and welcomes the ongoing review of the Scottish Climate Change Programme and the priority being given to strengthening the contribution of energy efficiency and renewables to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

S2M-2691.1 Alex Johnstone: Nuclear Power—As an amendment to motion (S2M-2691) in the name of Richard Lochhead, leave out from first “UK Government” to end and insert “House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee concluded in its report, Meeting Scotland’s Future Energy Needs, that it is “vital that decisions are taken now, to obviate the possibility of, quite literally, the lights going out in Scotland in the foreseeable future”; further notes that nuclear power is currently estimated to save the United Kingdom annual emissions of eight million tonnes, and therefore urges the Scottish Executive to support any plans brought forward by the UK Government to replace current nuclear power stations with new nuclear power stations in order to protect our energy supply, protect existing jobs and reduce our CO 2 emissions.”

S2M-2691.3 Chris Ballance: Nuclear Power—As an amendment to motion (S2M-2691) in the name of Richard Lochhead, insert after fourth “waste” “notes that the industry proposal to base electricity supply on identical reactors of the unproven AP1000 design would undermine the security of electricity supply; notes that the amount set aside from nuclear generation revenues over the last 50 years to pay for decommissioning of existing nuclear power stations is only sufficient to fund the first two years of the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency’s 30-year programme and therefore that the multi-billion cost of decommissioning existing nuclear power stations will have to be paid for by future generations of tax payers and therefore considers that nuclear power is economically unsustainable; further notes that, over its whole life cycle, nuclear power is not carbon-neutral and agrees with the Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust that “to present nuclear power as one of the main ways of combating climate change is short-sighted”; believes that renewable energy and energy efficiency offer a truly secure and sustainable energy future”.

11.40 am General Question Time—

1. Scott Barrie: To ask the Scottish Executive what assistance is available to NHS boards to ensure that people inappropriately accommodated at the State Hospital, Carstairs, can be returned to their home areas . (S2O-6090)

2. Ms Rosemary Byrne: To ask the Scottish Executive what powers the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has over sewage pollution . (S2O-6029)

3. Linda Fabiani: To ask the Scottish Executive what action has been taken following the debate in the Parliament on institutional child abuse on 1 December 2004. (S2O-6237)

4. Iain Smith: To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to improve opportunities for schoolchildren to participate in outdoor education . (S2O-6072)

5. Jeremy Purvis: To ask the Scottish Executive how it is supporting the development of eco schools. (S2O-6063)

6. Margaret Jamieson: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will adopt the recent Department of Health guidelines contained in The management of health, safety and welfare issues for NHS staff on handling infected cadavers. (S2O-6081)

7. Donald Gorrie: To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it is taking to assist communities to develop their own social enterprises, including very small businesses. (S2O-6054)

8. Irene Oldfather: To ask the Scottish Executive what importance it places on musical activity in schools. (S2O-6168)

9. Brian Adam: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has a policy on charges for NHS patients, such as for car parking and Patientline TV . (S2O-6031)

10. Phil Gallie: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will list the benefits accrued to Scotland as a consequence of the First Minister’s presidency of the Group of Regions with Legislative Powers. (S2O-6206)

12 noon First Minister’s Question Time—

1. Nicola Sturgeon: To ask the First Minister what issues will be discussed at the next meeting of the Scottish Executive’s Cabinet. (S2F-1567)

2. David McLetchie: To ask the First Minister when he will next meet the Prime Minister and what issues will be discussed. (S2F-1568)

3. Shiona Baird: To ask the First Minister when he will next meet the Secretary of State for Scotland and what issues he intends to discuss. (S2F-1575)

4. Des McNulty: To ask the First Minister what effect the Scottish Executive’s economic strategy is having on boosting employment opportunities. (S2F-1574)

5. Ms Sandra White: To ask the First Minister what impact low immigration levels into Scotland would have on the Fresh Talent initiative. (S2F-1577)

6. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: To ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Executive’s actions to promote the interests of Scottish trade, industry and exports abroad are supported by the UK Government. (S2F-1580)

2.15 pm Themed Question Time—

Enterprise , Lifelong Learning and Transport

1. Not Lodged

2. Robert Brown: To ask the Scottish Executive what assessment it has made of the number of 16 to 19-year-olds who have no workplace skills . (S2O-6052)

3. Mr Frank McAveety: To ask the Scottish Executive what the economic benefits are to the west of Scotland economy arising from the commitment to proceed with the M74 motorway link. (S2O-6142)

4. Mr John Home Robertson: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has any plans to improve the quality and reliability of bus services. (S2O-6115)

5. Margaret Smith: To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to ensure the prompt delivery of the A8000 project. (S2O-6076)

6. Murdo Fraser: To ask the Scottish Executive what action it has taken to encourage the development of small-scale hydro-electric schemes. (S2O-6235)

7. Richard Lochhead: To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it is taking to ensure that Scotland remains competitive with the new EU countries in terms of jobs and business opportunities. (S2O-6216)

8. Marilyn Livingstone: To ask the Scottish Executive what action is being taken to attract more women into the construction industry. (S2O-6127)

9. Fiona Hyslop: To ask the Scottish Executive what action it will take to ensure that fees charged by Scottish universities will not deter prospective students . (S2O-6244)

10. Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Executive what discussions it has had with Highland Council regarding the funding of the Inverness Southern Distributor Road connecting the A96 and the A9 to the A82 . (S2O-6228)

Justice and Law Officers

1. Shona Robison: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it intends to review the operation and effectiveness of fatal accident inquiries . (S2O-6251)

2. John Scott: To ask the Scottish Executive for what categories of crime an individual could be given a home detention curfew. (S2O-6242)

3. Withdrawn

4. Alex Neil: To ask the Scottish Executive when it intends to publish the latest report of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons on HM Prison Kilmarnock. (S2O-6182)

5. Margaret Mitchell: To ask the Scottish Executive what its policy is regarding the rehabilitation of drug users in prison. (S2O-6037)

6. Pauline McNeill: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will review the operation of civil law . (S2O-6039)

7. Michael McMahon: To ask the Scottish Executive what action it will take to reduce the likelihood of offending by those on bail. (S2O-6149)

8. Ms Wendy Alexander: To ask the Scottish Executive what progress is being made in tackling drug dealing using the Crimestoppers freephone number. (S2O-6089)

9. Withdrawn

10. Ms Sandra White: To ask the Scottish Executive what the projected costs are of operating the trial electronic tagging schemes for offenders in Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Stirling . (S2O-6040)

2.55 pm Executive Debate: Skills—

S2M-2694 Mr Jim Wallace: Skills—That the Parliament acknowledges the importance of a policy of effective skills improvement and the contribution it can make to Scotland’s prosperity; supports the objectives of the Scottish Executive’s lifelong learning strategy which has helped raise the skill levels of Scotland’s current workforce and increased the potential for future skills improvement; recognises that the sustained success of the Modern Apprenticeship scheme and record investment in Scotland’s colleges have contributed significantly to improved skill levels; welcomes the Executive’s commitment to improving adult literacy and numeracy rates and to better preparing Scotland’s young people for the world of work through enterprise education and greater vocational learning opportunities, and believes that a continued focus on skills can help maintain Scotland’s position as European Region of the Future.

The Presiding Officer has selected the following amendments

S2M-2694.1 Jim Mather: Skills—As an amendment to motion (S2M-2694) in the name of Mr Jim Wallace, leave out from “which has helped” to end and insert “and encourages the Executive to embark on a twofold strategy of radically improving the competitiveness of Scotland as recorded annually by IMD of Switzerland and increasingly matching the ability of other parts of the developed world to retain and attract skilled people and the type of investment that capitalises on existing skills and develops yet more skills here in Scotland.”

S2M-2694.2 Murdo Fraser: Skills—As an amendment to motion (S2M-2694) in the name of Mr Jim Wallace, leave out from “supports” to end and insert“notes the success of the Modern Apprenticeship scheme initiated in the mid-1990s by a Conservative government which has trained over 75,000 people in Scotland and which is currently providing skills training for over 31,000; notes with disappointment figures from the Futureskills Scotland 2004 report which show that 29% of applicants to skill shortage posts lacked basic literacy skills and 24% lacked basic numeracy skills; notes with concern findings from the same report that between 40 and 50% of employers who have recruited school leavers report that they are not well-prepared for work, and calls for more effective school-college partnerships with a view to improving the skills base of the economy.”

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

followed by Members’ Business:

Debate on the subject of—

S2M-2544 Phil Gallie: Hannah Research Institute - Loss of Home Based Scientists—That the Parliament views with concern the loss of scientists and support staff as a consequence of uncertainties over research funding currently surrounding the Hannah Research Institute near Ayr; considers that the actions of the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department over recent times have been unhelpful and misleading when considering the research direction that the Institute has followed; believes that the levels of expertise and knowledge available within Hannah are identical to those that the Executive seeks to recruit under its Fresh Talent initiative and retain, if its much-used phrase of “a Smart Successful Scotland” has any meaning, and considers that the Ministers for Enterprise, Health and Rural Affairs should come together to secure the future of this quality Scottish resource.



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