07 December 2008

The Sunday Whip

The formulaic week, with Wednesday providing little in the way of procedure - the afternon was taken up with the response to the Pre-Budget Report - while the actual points of clash were left until Thursday.

Anyway, all we saw in terms of decisions on Wednesday was the waving through of the Business Motion and the approval of the Budget (Scotland) Act 2008 Amendment Order 2008.

Thursday, meanwhile, saw one of the best-attended Decison Times in ages, with only three absences: LibDem Justice Spokesman Robert Brown (Glasgow), John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West) and Elaine Smith (Lab, Coatbridge & Chryston).

The first vote came on the Tory motion on broadcasting, along with a LibDem amendment. Hugh Henry (Lab, Paisley South) missed the LibDem amendment vote, which passed by 74 (Lab/Con/LD) to 1 (Margo) with 49 (SNP/Green) abstentions. HE was in the Chamber in time for the vote on the amended motion - though Keith Brown (SNP, Ochil) missed this one - which passed by 75 (Lab/Con/LD) to 0 with 49 (SNP/Green/Margo) abstentions (Why? Why? Why?):

That the Parliament notes that 4 December 2008 is the final date for submissions to Ofcom's Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Review, Preparing for the Digital Future; recognises that, while broadcasting is reserved, there is a need for a healthy, competitive Scottish-based television programme-making sector outwith the BBC, notwithstanding that organisation's historic, respected and pivotal role in Scottish broadcasting; recognises the role of STV as the only remaining Scottish-based commercial PSB provider; prefers Ofcom's enhanced evolution option with a commercial TV channel continuing to provide PSB for Scotland as part of a wider UK network; recognises that STV's survival as a PSB provider is at risk in the current economic climate, particularly since ITV is now advocating a single UK-wide brand, and calls on Ofcom to explore all options to ensure that there is PSB competition for BBC Scotland in the nation's rapidly changing broadcasting landscape; further believes that all Scottish residents should have access to the full range of broadcasting following digital switchover, and calls on Ofcom to ensure that all relay transmitters are capable of transmitting the full spectrum of free-to-view broadcasting and that the 7th Mux is enabled in Scotland.

Then came the outcome of the debate on Local Government Finance, another Tory motion, which proved somewhat ominous for the Government. The motion faced a Government amendment, which in turn faced a LibDem amendment. This fell by 64 (Labour/Tory/Green/Margo) to 61 (SNP/LibDems). The SNP amendment then fell by 65 to 60 - the same parties, though Joe FitzPatrick (SNP, Dundee West) appears to have pressed the wrong button and voted against it. The motion then passed by 65 to 60 - the SNP and LibDems voting together against, but this time with the exception of Kenneth Gibson (SNP, Cunninghame North), who also appeared to press the wrong button and vote with the other parties. Clearly, this is something that the SNP Whips need to nip in the bud, but this time it didn't matter, as one way or another, the motion would still have passed as follows:

That the Parliament notes the intention of the Scottish Government to introduce legislation to reform the system of local government taxation and calls on it to ensure that the scope of the Bill when introduced is sufficiently wide as to enable members to debate and vote on all options, including reform of the council tax, a land value tax, a local income tax with variable rates determined locally and the Scottish Government's own proposals.

Finally, an outbreak of consensus, on a Government motion about forced marriages, waved through by MSPs:

That the Parliament recognises the right of every person to choose whom to marry without fear of physical, emotional or psychological abuse; recognises that forced marriage is a violation of internationally recognised human rights and a form of violence against women and has no place in Scotland; makes a clear distinction between arranged marriages to which both parties have freely consented, and which are an established and accepted practice, and forced marriage; welcomes the Scottish Government's consultation that asks whether forced marriage civil legislation is required and provides an opportunity to consider what more can be done to help those affected in Scotland and to ensure our communities are safer, stronger and fairer places for all; acknowledges the work of the Forced Marriage Network in tackling this issue, and supports continued efforts to assist those affected, raise awareness of the impact of forced marriage and to end this terrible practice.

1 comment:

James Higham said...

...there is a need for a healthy, competitive Scottish-based television programme-making sector outwith the BBC, notwithstanding that organisation's historic, respected and pivotal role in Scottish broadcasting...

A sort of Rab C. Nesbitt maker, in other words?