18 May 2008

The Sunday Whip

There was much for the Government to smile about this week: Wednesday went off without even a vote being taken. The Business Motion got waved through, the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Bill sailed through Stage 1 and the financial resolution for the Bill went through on the nod. Then MSPs waved through two related SSIs: the Transport and Works (Scotland) Act 2007 (Access to Land on Application) Order 2008 and the Transport and Works (Scotland) Act 2007 (Access to Land by the Scottish Ministers) Order 2008.

Thursday was not quite so consensual, though it was still good for the Government: the only votes to be taken were on the Sutherland Report and free personal care. Ian McKee (SNP, Lothians) was missing, as were Deputy Presiding Officer Trish Godman (Lab, West Renfrewshire), which was odd as she'd chaired part of the session earlier (though she appears to have handed to chair to Alasdair Morgan at about 4:00), Labour's Shadow Environment Minister David Stewart (Highlands & Islands), Margaret Mitchell (Con, Central Scotland), John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West) and Hugh O'Donnell (LD, Central Scotland).

The Labour amendment fell, by 63 (SNP/LD/Green/Margo) votes to 59 (Labour/Conservative). A Tory amendment passed by 75 (Labour/Tory/LD/Green) votes to 0 with 47 abstentions (SNP/Margo) and I still hate the notion of challenging a motion or amendment just to abstain, though the LibDem amendment was waved through. The amended motion then came up and passed by 79 votes to 43: Labour were the only party to oppose the motion, and their Shadow Justice Secretary Pauline McNeill (Glasgow Kelvin) voted in favour, along with all the other parties (even Margo!). So MSPs from all parties agreed:

That the Parliament welcomes the publication of Lord Sutherland's independent review of free personal and nursing care and the Scottish Government's acceptance in full of the report's recommendations, including the commitment to provide £40 million a year in additional funding the source of which will be identified in next year's budget; notes Lord Sutherland's clear conclusion that the UK Government should not have withdrawn the attendance allowance funding in respect of self-funding clients in care homes, currently valued at over £30 million a year; urges the Scottish Government to pursue vigorously with UK Ministers the reinstatement of this funding while longer-term work to re-assess all funding streams relevant to the care of older people in Scotland takes place, and calls on the eight Scottish councils which continue to charge for assisting with food preparation to cease to do so forthwith and all councils which have levied such charges to refund everyone who has been wrongly charged for this service.

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