11 February 2008

The Rest of the Whip

Well, I've now seen Thursday's Official Report, and it seems that it was a topsy-turvy affair: motions and amendments were waved through, and a pair of Scottish Statutory Instruments saw the only votes.

Anyway, a Government motion on commercial forestry saw Labour, Tory and LibDem amendments accepted by the whole Chamber, as was the amended motion, which read:

That the Parliament, mindful of the Scottish Government's purpose to achieve sustainable economic growth, acknowledges the contribution that forests and woodlands make through timber, tourism and direct and indirect employment, and recognises the need to support the continued development and expansion of the commercial Scottish forestry sector and the competitive and developing industries which it underpins; and further notes the significant role that Scotland's woodland plays in the mitigation of climate change and the conservation of biodiversity; welcomes the firming up of the 25% target for forest coverage, planted in ways and using techniques which will contribute to carbon capture; further welcomes the fact that the majority of this additional planting is likely to be established through grant aid to the private sector, and supports efforts to increase the biodiversity value of all forestry in receipt of public funds, in particular new schemes which enhance habitats for key native species such as the capercaillie and the Scottish crossbill; further recognises the role that forestry can play in helping to meet Scotland's renewable energy targets through biomass generation; welcomes the work of the previous administration on promoting the biomass sector through the highly successful Biomass Support Scheme, and calls on the Scottish Government to maximise the opportunities for growth, jobs and sustainability offered by the expansion of the biomass sector in Scotland by delivering the previous administration's Biomass Action Plan.

The votes came on the SSIs, and were missed by Alex Salmond (the FM is MSP for Gordon as well, of course), Karen Gillon (Lab, Clydesdale), Marilyn Livingstone (Lab, Kirkcaldy), Elaine Smith (Lab, Coatbridge & Chryston), Mike Rumbles (LibDem Rural Affairs Spokesman and MSP for West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine) and Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians). First, the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2008 was challenged - in a way - but passed by 107 votes (SNP, Labour, Tories, Greens) to 0 with 15 LibDem abstentions. This was followed by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (Prescribed Documents) Regulations 2008, which passed by 106 votes (SNP, Labour, LibDems, Greens) to 16 (Tories).

Oh, and the official wording of the amended Budget motion on Wednesday was:

That the Parliament agrees that the Budget (Scotland) Bill be passed but, in so doing, calls on the Scottish Government to continue throughout 2008-09 to seek ways to expand programmes of skills and training generally and modern apprenticeships specifically; to secure national minimum standards of service for vulnerable groups and to make a statement to the Parliament outlining how it will achieve this.

And that's your lot - Holyrood is in recess now for the half-term break, so there'll be no Whip on Sunday. How will you cope?

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