29 March 2009

The Sunday Whip

A successful week for the Government, with the two days broadly following the established pattern: consensual(-ish) Wednesday, followed by a Thursday with a little (but not much) more needle.

Anyway. To Wednesday first, which was missed by Jackie Baillie (Lab, Dumbarton), Labour Shadow Education Secretary Rhona Brankin (Midlothian), Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston), LibDem Health Spokesman Ross Finnie (West of Scotland), George Foulkes (Lab, Lothians), Shadow Rural Development Minister Karen Gillon (Clydesdale), Robin Harper (Green. Lothians), Marilyn Livingstone (Lab, Kirkcaldy), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians), Jack McConnell (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw), Duncan McNeil (Lab, Greenock & Inverclyde), Alex Salmond (Gordon), Tory Rural Affairs Spokesman John Scott (Ayr), Elaine Smith (Lab, Coatbridge & Chryston) and Nicol Stephen (LD, Aberdeen South).

The Business Motions were waved through, as normal, and most of the substantive business revolved around the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee's rewrite of the Code of Conduct. The Review of Section 6 (Cross-Party Groups) was passed without dissent. So did the Reimbusement of Members' Expenses Scheme. The new Section 8, however, was challenged, but passed by 100 votes to 8 with two abstentions. The SNP, Labour, Tories and Patrick Harvie were all in favour, although Bill Kidd (SNP, Glasgow), Cathie Craigie (Lab, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth) and Bill Wilson (SNP, West of Scotland) missed the vote, so the dissent was clearly down to a LibDem free vote. For the record, Jim Hume (South of Scotland), Local Government Spokesperson Alison McInnes (North East Scotland), Hugh O'Donnell (Central Scotland) and Culture Spokesman Iain Smith (North East Fife) all voted in favour. Justice Spokesman Robert Brown (Glasgow) and Jim Tolson (Dunfermline West) abstained. The remaining eight voted against.

Following that, MSPs unanimously put forward Jim Martin as Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

The only remaining dissent came on the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (Scotland) Amendment Order 2009, which passed by 99 (SNP/Labour/Tories/Green) to 0 with 14 LibDem abstentions.

After that, came the other SSIs, which were waved through:

Advice and Assistance and Civil Legal Aid (Financial Conditions and Contributions) (Scotland) Regulations 2009

Bankruptcy and Diligence etc. (Scotland) Act 2007 (Inhibition) Order 2009

Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Booking Offices) Order 2009

Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2009

Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002 (Amendment to schedule 1) Order 2009

Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 2009

Licensing of Animal Dealers (Young Cats and Young Dogs) (Scotland) Regulations 2009

Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Order 2009

Victim Statements (Prescribed Courts) (Scotland) Order 2009

Scottish Government Code of Practice for the Welfare of Equidae (SG 2009/20)

After that, came the motion on the SPCB Supported Bodies Committee:

That the Parliament agrees to amend the remit and duration of the Review of SPCB Supported Bodies Committee as follows—

Remit: To consider and report on whether alterations should be made to the terms and conditions of the office-holders and the structure of the bodies supported by the SPCB; to consider how any proposals, including the addition of any new functions, for future arrangements should be taken forward, including by way of a Committee Bill, and to make recommendations accordingly.

Duration: Until the Parliament has concluded consideration of the committee's report and any Bill which may follow thereon.

Finally, came this last Bureau motion:

That the Parliament agrees to designate the Health and Sport Committee as secondary committee for the purpose of considering Part 9, section 129 and Part 10, section 140 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1.

So with that out of the way, Thursday was generally easy for the Government, and this was reflected in the number of absentees: Jackie Baillie, Rhona Brankin, George Foulkes, Karen Gillon, Marilyn Livingstone, Margo MacDonald, Labour Shadow Schools Minister Ken Macintosh (Eastwood), Enterprise Minister Jim Mather (Argyll & Bute), LibDem Environment Spokesman Liam McArthur (Orkney), John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West), Culture Minister Mike Russell (South of Scotland), Alex Salmond, Elaine Smith, Nicol Stephen, Jamie Stone (LD, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) and Maureen Watt (SNP, North East Scotland).

First came another Business Motion, which was waved through. Then came the Tory motion on the NHS and the Independent Sector. The SNP amendment fell, by 67 (Lab/Con/LD) votes to 45 (SNP/Greens). The Labour amendment, however, passed by 84 (SNP/Labour/Greens) to 16 (Tories) with 12 LibDem abstentions. With a LibDem amendment being waved through, the amended motion passed by 96 (everyone but the Tories) to 16:

That the Parliament welcomes the success of the Scottish Regional Treatment Centre at Stracathro with its high level of patient approval and welcomes the Scottish Regional Treatment Centre's contribution to maintaining Stracathro Hospital as both a local and regional resource; notes the success of the nationalisation of the HCI hospital in Clydebank, now the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, and recognises the contribution of both these units and their staff in achieving the continuing reduction in waiting times, while ensuring that the use of the private sector does not destabilise local NHS provision or undermine the recruitment and retention of NHS staff.

After that came the Tory motion on Alcohol Strategy, which saw just what happens when the SNP and Labour work together. Now, in fairness, I probably wouldn't have bothered with the Whip if this had been the order of things right from the start, but it is nice to see. Anyway. The SNP amendment passed by 82 (SNP/Labour) to 17 (Tories/Greens) with 12 LibDem abstentions and Alex Johnstone (Con, North East Scotland) popping out for this one. The LibDem amendment fell by 84 (SNP/Labour/Greens) to 28 (Tories/LDs), and the amended motion passed by 80 (SNP plus most of Labour) to three - the Greens along with Wendy Alexander (Lab, Paisley North), with 28 Tory and LibDem abstentions. As well as Wendy Alexander voting no, Hugh Henry (Lab, Paisley South) didn't cast a vote. Here's what was passed:

That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish Government to incorporate its proposals for reform of the law relating to the sale of alcohol into a new health Bill, which will facilitate democratic accountability and greater parliamentary and public scrutiny of its proposals; calls on the Scottish Government to place greater emphasis on a much more rigorous application of the existing licensing laws and to recognise that any changes can be introduced only on the basis of a wider and meaningful consultation with the licensed trade and Scotland's communities, and believes that any measures taken to tackle harmful drinking and underage drinking must be workable and properly targeted so that, while the responsible, sensible majority of moderate drinkers are not unnecessarily penalised, wider issues of excess consumption contributing to huge costs to Scottish society are effectively addressed.

I must admit, I'm not sure why MSPs for Paisley find themselves particularly unable to support that. Or maybe it's just a mildly amusing co-incidence...


Scott @ loveandgarbage said...

Despite being waved through the Bankruptcy and Diligence etc. (Scotland) Act 2007 (Inhibition) Order 2009 is startling in some respects. As has become increasingly common at Holyrood (and is not common at Westminster) this is a statutory instrument which amends primary legislation. This in itself would have merited rather more than the 3 minutes of consideration it received before the Justice Committee but here the primary legislation is amended to add a prescribed form, which is added by the same order. They have effectively prescribed a statutory form without conferring a power in the statute to prescribe the form (as would ordinarly be the case). That such techniques are increasingly used because the government (all parties since devolution) has screwed up in passing the original ACt is anti-democratic as the SSIs which follow amending primary legislation do not have evidence taken on them, and do not receive anything like the same scrutiny. It stinks and to my mind supports an argument in favour of a second revising chamber - or an argument in favbour of a second evidence stage - once the bill is passed to allow the type of errors these things correct to be picked up when effective scrutiny is still feasible.

Holyrood Patter said...

i dont want to sound like a daily mail leader article
but its interesting that the reimbursment members expenses passed with no argument

Anonymous said...

Surely J. Arthur should have some intimate knowledge of the Home Secretary and the Virgin Media Bill issue?

Come on, J. Arthur, pull, pull something together and make a splash...

Will said...

Scott, I agree - why does a massive chunk of legislation get ignored? The SSIs matter but they just seem overlooked, especially when Labour and the LibDems start counting pieces of legislation as a way of discussing action or inaction. Here's a massive chunk of the stuff, and nothing gets said.

HP - it's possible that the Standards Committee saw most of the discussion here, so that may explain the quiet passage in the Chamber.

Anon - the Jacqui Smith scandal appears to break down into three headlines:

"Rules Stacked in favour of MPs"

"Politician taking advantage of gravy train"

"Ministerial Spouse an embarrassment"

I'd probably waste time on a post about those drab, predictable headlines, but really, we've heard it all before. It may be worth a post once RL has got out of the way, but frankly, I doubt it...