22 June 2008

The Sunday Whip

This ought to have been a great week for the Government but Wednesday provided what could be described as a very large turd in the punchbowl.

Indeed, Wednesday started off easily enough. There were a few absentees: Ted Brocklebank (Con, Mid Scotland & Fife), Tory Finance Spokesman Derek Brownlee (South of Scotland), George Foulkes (Lab, Lothians), Marlyn Glen (Lab, North East Scotland), Trish Godman (Lab, West Renfrewshire), Tory Leader Annabel Goldie (West of Scotland), Alison McInnes (LD, North East Scotland), Margaret Mitchell (Con, Central Scotland), Elizabeth Smith (Con, Mid Scotland & Fife), LibDem Justice Spokesperson Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West) and Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP, Lothians). Not one but two Business Motions were waved through - one was taken at the start of the session to allow a statement on the C.Diff. outbreak at the Vale of Leven Hospital - and Stage 1 of the Creative Scotland Bill passed on the nod.

Things went haywire with the Financial Resolution though. Confusion had emerged over whether or not the Budget for Scottish Enterprise's Cultural Office would move to Creative Scotland, and Bruce Crawford asked to withdraw the resolution so he could clear that up. Now, the confusion shouldn't have happened, but there's something extraordinarily perverse in what happened next: the Opposition had earlier objected to the resolution being withdrawn, but voted against the resolution, by 68 (Labour/Tory/LibDem) votes to 49 (SNP/Greens/Margo). Now, with no money available to the Bill, the legislation is basically neutered, and so it falls. Let's recap: the Opposition didn't want the resolution withdrawn, but still voted against it, thus killing a Bill which a few seconds earlier they had supported. The initial confusion, and the defeat, are embarrassing for the Government - no doubt about that - but the way the Bill died does seem utterly ridiculous. No one looks good from this.

Anyway. After that came a Legislative Consent Motion relating to Part 1, Chapter 3 of the Energy Bill. Part 1, Chapter 3 concerns the Storage of Carbon Dioxide, in case you were wondering. It was waved through, as were the SSIs: the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003 (Amendment of the Definition of Child Care Position) Order 2008, the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 (Designation of Participating Countries) (Scotland) Order 2008, the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 Modification Order 2008 and the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Amendment) Order 2008.

Thursday, meanwhile, was less ridiculous. Helen Eadie (Lab, Dunfermline East), Labour's Shadow Rural Development Minister Karen Gillon (Clydesdale), Trish Godman, Labour's Shadow Energy Minister Lewis Macdonald (Aberdeen Central), Liam McArthur (LD, Orkney), Tory Rural Affairs Spokesman John Scott (Ayr) and Shirley-Anne Somerville were all absent, and didn't miss much, admittedly. There was a Government motion on Youth Justice, to which the three big Opposition parties had all lodged amendments. The Labour one fell by 63 votes (SNP, most of the LibDems, the Greens and Margo) to 58 - Labour, the Tories and John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West). The Tory one fell by 104 (the SNP, Labour, most of the LibDems and the Greens) to 16 (the Tories and Munro again) with one abstention (you know who by now!). The LibDem one fell by 103 (SNP/Labour/Tories) to 17 (the LibDems - John Farquhar Munro finally remembered which Party he's in - and Greens) with one abstention.

And yet, despite every amendment getting voted down, everyone was happy enough to let the actual motion go through on the nod:

That the Parliament acknowledges the positive contribution that children and young people across Scotland make to society; believes that every young person deserves the best start in life; is committed to giving young people more positive choices and chances and removing the barriers that prevent some from realising their potential and leading successful lives; notes that there are a number of young people who do not realise their potential and get into trouble and recognises the need to intervene quickly and effectively to turn their lives around; further recognises the need to support victims of offending, and considers that communities, the third sector, the private sector, public services, local authorities and the Scottish Government need to work together to build a more successful Scotland by preventing offending and intervening early with children and families at risk.

Finally, Stage 1 of Jamie McGrigor's Scottish Register of Tartans Bill was waved through.

Next week is the last before the Summer recess - I don't know about MSPs but I certainly need a holiday - and to celebrate, there's a debate on the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme. Oh gawd...


Tim Hedges said...

I got half way through this, thinking it might turn out to be interesting in the end, only to find it was about Scotland!

Will said...

Tim, you just saw the title and thought there was bondage involved, didn't you?

Jeff said...

Ah, no stamina Tim, the voting behaviour of Jamie McGrigor and Mike Rumbles is fascinating sutff if you give it time.

(A strong shot of whisky beforehand helps too....)

Will said...

See the problem is that enough people are reading this with or without alcohol for me to stop doing it. :D

I'm running out of ways to say that Margo MacDonald abstained...

Jeff said...

We have a pretty decent Thesauraus here Will, so let me help you out in the interests of prolonging this fine whipping action for another few weeks yet...

Margo McDonald desisted
Margo McDonald refrained
Margo McDonald withdrew
Margo McDonald withheld
Margo McDonald went without
Margo mcDonald ceased
Margo McDonald renounced
Margo McDonald gave up (hehe)
Margo McDonald sat on the fence
Margo McDonald indulged in

oh, hang on, that last one's an antonym. An interesting opening line nonetheless...