25 November 2007

The Sunday Whip

Not really all that much to talk about today: Wednesday saw the business programme and the Licensing (Mandatory Conditions No. 2) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 nodded through. A debate on the Scottish Government's economic strategy got people going, though a number of MSPs were missing. Labour were without Cathie Craigie (Cumbernauld & Kilsyth), Rhoda Grant (Highlands & Islands), Ken Macintosh (MSP for Eastwood and Shadow Schools Minister), Des McNulty (MSP for Clydebank & Milngavie, and Shadow Environment Minister), Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East), Elaine Smith (Coatbridge & Chryston) and Karen Whitefield (Airdrie & Shotts). The Tories were missing Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland), while the LibDems did without Mike Pringle (Edinburgh South) and Iain Smith (North East Fife).

But to the votes, and Labour's amendment was first up, only to be shot down by 64 votes (the SNP, Tories and Greens) to 53 (Labour and the LibDems), with one abstention (I won't say who, but her name begins with 'M' and ends with 'argo'.) A Tory amendment fared better, however, passing by 62 votes to 3 with 52 abstentions. the SNP and Tories supported it, with Margo being joined by the Recent Loss of Power Support Group in abstaining, with the exception of Labour Leader Wendy Alexander who went walkabout, perhaps to find another spin doctor, and Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill) broke ranks and voted outright against the motion, joining the Greens in doing so.

A LibDem amendment went the same way as the Labour one, falling by 53 votes to 63 with one abstention. The former Executive parties voted together, with Alexander back to vote and Ferguson returning to the fold. The SNP - minus Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North), whose absence for this one vote I can't explain with a daft comment - Tories and Greens joined in opposition. And that stately galleon of the Lothians abstained again.

The amended motion passed, almost inevitably, by 62 votes to 3 with 53 abstentions: Kenny Gibson was back so the entire SNP Group and the 15 Tories voted together in favour. Margo obviously abstained, and was joined in doing so by Labour and the LibDems. This time Patricia Ferguson voted with her party, but Jamie Stone (LibDem, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) voted against the motion, alongside the Greens. Despite Stone's brave attempts to hold back the tide, the following motion passed:

That the Parliament recognises the importance of creating a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish and notes the publication of The Government Economic Strategy, which sets out the Scottish Government's approach to aligning the public, private and voluntary sectors to achieve this objective and, recognising the importance of small businesses to the Scottish economy, calls on the Scottish Government, if additional resources become available, to prioritise the acceleration of the full implementation of the reductions in business rates for small businesses announced in the budget on 14 November 2007.

Thursday, however, was a more consensual affair: first came a debate on the fisheries negotiations, with a Government motion, plus Labour and Tory amendments, being waved through. The product of this agreement was:

That the Parliament supports the Scottish Government, working with the UK Government, in negotiating a deal which is fair and just for Scotland's fishing communities and which reflects in full the leadership which Scotland's fishermen are showing the rest of Europe on sustainable fisheries; agrees that the precautionary principle should prevail in setting levels of permissible fishing activity; acknowledges that much more work needs to be done to create a truly sustainable fishery in the North Sea, including measures to reduce dramatically if not eliminate discards, recognising that one good year class does not of itself create a sustainable fishery stock, and further agrees that there needs to be dialogue between the fishing industry, scientists and conservation interests to ensure continuous improvement in stocks and a long-term sustainable future for the industry.

A Government motion on domestic violence, and a Labour amendment, passed in the same way:

That the Parliament believes that it is unacceptable that thousands of children in Scotland are affected by domestic abuse, seriously impacting on their wellbeing, safety, health, schooling and life experience; pays tribute to those working in the field to help women and children affected by domestic abuse and those taking on the challenge of wider issues of violence against women; acknowledges the need to review the effect of current enforcement measures to tackle violence against women, in order to ensure that women and children receive the protection and security that they require; reaffirms its commitment to ending violence against women and recognises as part of its support for the UN 16 days of activism against gender violence, the importance of tackling not only domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault but also emerging issues such as human trafficking, and welcomes the establishment of the National Delivery Group on Children Affected by Domestic Abuse, the cross-cutting approach being taken and the involvement of children and young people.

And last word this week goes to Alex Fergusson, who seems to be having a wretched time in the Chair if this comment from Wednesday's business was uttered with the despair that seems to come through in the Official Report:

That concludes decision time. As always, I ask members who are leaving the chamber to do so quietly. As always, they will probably ignore me.


Lord James-River said...

Only you produce posts like this, Will.

Will said...

Every blogger must find their niche... and this is mine. It makes posts like: 'Named and Shamed: Scotland's Absentee MSPs!!!!!' so much easier.