01 March 2009

The Sunday Whip

This was a markedly consensual week, and one in which it was hard for juices to get flowing: only two votes were taken in the Chamber.

Wednesday was always going to be quiet: it involved Committee reports which are rarely challenged. The Business Motion was subject to a small amount of huffing - though no puffing - from Patrick Harvie, who I would expect to challenge the Business Motion more often than he does, as one of three MSPs not represented on the Bureau. Still, most of the time he's either happy or chooses to hold his peace, and in this case, he didn't force a vote on the matter either, so he was content to have his say, then let the Motion pass.

Anyway, Wednesday being a quiet one, there were a few absences: Jackie Baillie (Lab, Dumbarton), Angela Constance (SNP, Livingston), Parliamentary Business Minister Bruce Crawford (Stirling), Nigel Don (SNP, North East Scotland), Helen Eadie (Lab, Dunfermline East), Joe FitzPatrick (SNP, Dundee West), Robin Harper (Green, Lothians), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians), LibDem Environment Spokesman Liam McArthur (Orkney), Jamie McGrigor (Con, Highlands & Islands), Alex Salmond (Gordon), Shadow Public Health Minister Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland & Fife), Elaine Smith (Coatbridge & Chryston) and Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon (Glasgow Govan).

And the Committee motions were waved through. First came the Equal Opportunities Committee's day in the sun:

That the Parliament notes evidence gathered by the Equal Opportunities Committee on unpaid carers at its meetings on 25 March and 7 October 2008, which highlighted that there were around 660,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, a figure that represented one in eight of the population; recognises the valuable contribution that unpaid carers make in saving the Scottish economy £7.6 billion a year; further notes that around 40% of unpaid carers surveyed reported that their access to services was poor or that available services did not meet their needs, and calls on the Scottish Government to take into consideration the evidence gathered when developing the forthcoming Scottish Government/COSLA carers strategy.

Following that came this offering from the Justice Committee:

That the Parliament notes the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Justice Committee's 18th Report, 2008 (Session 3): Report on Inquiry into Community Policing (SP Paper 155).

The one motion that was challenged was a motion to designated the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee as the lead committee for Stage 1 of the Arbitration (Scotland) Bill. The challenge came from its Convener, Iain Smith, but seems to have been based more on the LibDem reaction than the Committee's (and how strange it is that a Member who isn't represented on the Bureau doesn't seek to force a vote on a Bureau Motion, but one who is represented - by Mike Rumbles - is more than happy to make a challenge). As it happens, the motion passed by 99 (everyone but the LibDems) to 15 (the LibDems).

Thursday was equally consensual, but the sole vote was at least taken on a matter of policy rather than procedural wonkery. The absentees were Jackie Baillie, Bruce Crawford, Helen Eadie, LibDem Health Spokesman Ross Finnie (West of Scotland), Alex Johnstone (Con, North East Scotland), Shadow Enterprise Minister Lewis Macdonald (Aberdeen Central), Jamie McGrigor, Shadow Transport Minister Des McNulty (Clydebank & Milngavie), Richard Simpson, Elaine Smith and Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson (Banff & Buchan).

They missed the unanimous passage of Jackie Baillie's Disabled Persons' Parking Places (Scotland) Bill (PDF). There was a Government motion on the Marine Bill consultation, and it was the Labour amendment which faced the challenge, falling by 61 (SNP/Tory/Green) votes to 40 (Labour) with 16 abstentions (LibDems and Margo). Tory, LibDem and Green amendments were all waved through, as was the amended motion:

That the Parliament notes the Scottish Government's commitment to deliver a Scottish Marine Bill to accommodate environmentally sustainable economic development and improve the stewardship of the marine environment; acknowledges the positive response to the consultation, Sustainable Seas for All, the widespread support for the proposals and the concerns that remain; considers that the forthcoming marine legislation must fully take into account the interests of commercial fisheries and recreational sea anglers and could provide an appropriate vehicle for tackling the severe decline in breeding sea bird populations, and calls on the Scottish Government to publish its conclusions on the consultation and bring forward a dedicated Scottish Marine Bill as soon as possible to ensure that Scotland does not fall behind the rest of the United Kingdom in the sustainable management of its seas and coast.

Following that, one last Bureau motion was passed without dissent, concerning an SNP Committee reshuffle. I suppose, in the end, it was re-assuring for the Bureau to get a refresher on things going through without any quibbling at all.

1 comment:

Slack Johnny said...

You do know that AM2 sets up false accounts and pretends to be the stereotypical anti-English nat so he can then complain about his own sock puppets on his own blog.

Sad but true.

I'm surprised no one knows this.