09 September 2007

The Sunday Whip

Well, Holyrood has returned and with it comes the Sunday Whip. There were only two divisions this week. The first was on the Business Motion, which was challenged, but eventually passed by 60 votes to 54 with one abstention. On the Yes side, 45 of the SNP MSPs voted in favour, with Kenny MacAskill (the Justice Secretary and MSP for Edinburgh East & Musselburgh) absent, while Shirley-Anne Somerville (Lothians) was only sworn in (affirmed in?) after the vote. 14 of the 16 Tories voted with them: John Lamont (Roxburgh & Berwickshire) and Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) were absent. Further, there was one rebellion, with LibDem John Farquhar Munro (Ross, Skye & Inverness West) voting for the motion and against the rest of his party. On the No side were 41 of the 46 Labour MSPs. Karen Gillon (Clydesdale), Charlie Gordon (Glasgow Cathcart), Frank McAveety (Glasgow Shettleston), Tom McCabe (Hamilton South) and Irene Oldfather (Cunninghame South) were all missing. 13 LibDem MSPs voted in favour. We know about Munro voting against the group, so that leaves two absentees: Jim Hume (South of Scotland) and Alison McInnes (North East Scotland). Margo MacDonald abstained (of course), and the Greens were nowhere to be found.

On Thursday, a LibDem amendment to a Government motion on drugs misuse was proposed, and fell by 61 votes to 55. Supporting the amendment were 40 Labour MSPs and 14 LibDems. Significantly, this is the first time since the Election that an SNP MSP has broken ranks: Michael Matheson (Falkirk West) voted in favour. Labour's six absentees were Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton), Karen Gillon (Clydesdale), Cathy Jamieson (this is embarrassing: she is Labour's interim Leader, of course, and Shadow Parliamentary Business Minister!), Frank McAveety (Glasgow Shettleston), Tom McCabe (Hamilton South) and David Whitton (Strathkelvin & Bearsden). Two LibDems were absent: Liam McArthur (Orkney) and Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West), who was suffering from back problems. Voting against the amendment were 44 SNP MSPs: aside from Matheson, Bill Kidd (Glasgow) and Nicola Sturgeon (Health Secretary and MSP for Glasgow Govan) missed the vote. The Tories voted with the Government, and their sole absentee was John Scott (Ayr). Both Greens opposed the amendment, and Margo MacDonald was elsewhere. After the amendment fell, the original motion went through unopposed:

That the Parliament recognises that tackling drugs misuse is one of the great social challenges of our time, requiring determined and sustained action; welcomes the Scottish Government's commitment to build consensus around a new strategy for tackling drugs misuse; welcomes the recent publication of reports, commissioned by the previous administration, on key aspects of drugs services; supports the Government's determination to improve services to promote recovery from drug addiction, to ensure that children are protected from the drug addictions of their parents, to improve drugs education, to offer young people more opportunities to do something positive and constructive with their lives, to strengthen enforcement and to provide courts with more effective ways of dealing with those whose crimes are driven by addiction, and recognises that there will be resource implications in meeting this challenge.


Meanwhile, a Labour amendment to a motion on Crichton Campus was withdrawn, allowing the Government motion to be passed without opposition:

That the Parliament congratulates local campaigners, including MSPs from all parties, on effectively highlighting the issues surrounding the future of Crichton University Campus in Dumfries, leading to a successful outcome; commends the work of the local stakeholders, academic partners and the Scottish Funding Council in developing an academic strategy for the campus; welcomes the allocation of additional resources by the Scottish Government to protect existing provision, help deliver the strategy and widen the range of higher education opportunities delivered in the south west of Scotland on a long-term sustainable basis, and recognises the importance of the ability of students in rural and island communities to access higher and further education.

2 comments:

julie said...

what was the amendment proposed for the drugs motion? Btw, has anything cropped up about drugs rehabilitation yet? Annabel Goldie made it one of her election pledges and it would be interesting to see if the other parties would support it.

Will said...

Julie, the amendment would have changed to motion to:

That the Parliament recognises that tackling drugs misuse is one of the great social challenges of our time, requiring determined and sustained action; welcomes the Scottish Government's commitment to build consensus around a new strategy for tackling drugs misuse; welcomes the recent publication of reports, commissioned by the previous administration, on key aspects of drugs services; believes that increased opportunities, improved facilities, more drug-free activities and better drug education are necessary to give young people a positive alternative to drugs; calls on the Scottish Government to introduce a strategy for early intervention with vulnerable young people, particularly those in care or living with a parent who has a drug problem; calls for the establishment of a national register of drug and alcohol services including residential placements; believes that additional resources are required to increase drug and alcohol treatment places, cut waiting times and create more family support services; calls on the Scottish Government to commit to at least double the funding for drug and alcohol treatment in the first year of the next spending review; further notes the direct link between drug and alcohol use and crime and supports the greater use of arrest referral schemes across Scotland; further believes that Drug Testing and Treatment Orders (DTTOs) introduced by the previous administration can make a real difference in cutting crime and reoffending, and calls for DTTOs to be extended to Scotland's district courts and used more frequently to address alcohol abuse among offenders.

And you can read the transcript of the debate here.