14 June 2009

The Sunday Whip

I think it's fair to say that this was a good week for the Government. It's also potentially been a bad week for the writers of the Official Report, as we shall soon see.

Anyway. Wednesday saw the uual waving through of the Business Motions, before and after Stage 3 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill, and the only two absentees for whle day's proceedings were Alex Salmond, who was at Westminster, and John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West), who I assume was not.

First came the amendments to the Bill, only four of which came to a vote, and all of those were from the LibDems. A number of MSPs missed all of these: specifically Trish Godman (Lab, West Renfrewshire, in the Chair), LibDem Environment Spokesman Liam McArthur (Orkney) and Alasdair Morgan (SNP, South of Scotland, and probably trying to stay out of things in case he was needed to Chair proceedings).

The first vote was Amendment 121, and we know for a fact that Nicol Stephen (LD, Aberdeen South) missed this one. However, this is where things get hairy: the result was announced as 77 votes in favour (everyone but Labour) to 45 against, but the Official Report only lists 44 MSPs voting against it, with Deputy Finance Spokesman David Whitton (Strathkelvin & Bearsden) missing from the list. Either this is an oversight, or Trish Godman got her sums wrong, but as she was aided by the computer systems at Holyrood, I'd suggest that someone at the Official Report goofed and Whitton's name should not have been omitted.

Next came Amendment 122, which passed by 77 (everyone but Labour) votes to 44. Nicol Stephen was in the Chamber for this, but Malcolm Chisholm (Lab, Edinburgh North & Leith) and Jamie McGrigor (Con, Highlands and Islands) were not.

Then came Amendment 124, which passed by 77 to 43 (only Labour): Messrs. Chisholm and McGrigor were back, but Wendy Alexander (Lab, Paisley North), LibDem Health Spokesman Ross Finnie (West of Scotland) and Labour Shadow Transport Minister Des McNulty (Clydebank & Milngavie). Amendment 125 passed by 78 to 45.

With all the amendments out of the way, the Bill passed by 121 votes to 0 with one abstention, in the form of Green Co-Convener Patrick Harvie. The absentees (other than Munro and the FM) were Robin Harper (Green, Lothian), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothian), Jack McConnell (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw) and Margaret Mitchell (Con, Central Scotland).

The day was rounded off with three SSIs passed on the nod:

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cash Searches: Constables in Scotland: Code of Practice) Order 2009

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Investigations: Code of Practice) (Scotland) Order 2009

Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2009

Thursday, meanwhile, saw Holyrood back to its egg-throwing best, though right now, the mood seems to be to give Labour a kicking. The absentees were: Labour Shadow Rural Development Minister Karen Gillon (Clydesdale), Labour Shadow Health Secretary Cathy Jamieson (Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley), Labour Shadow Schools Minister Ken Macintosh (Eastwood), Duncan McNeil (Lab, Greenock & Inverclyde), Jhn Farquhar Munro, Housing Minister Alex Neil (Central Scotland), Cathy Peattie (Lab, Falkirk East) and Elaine Smith (Lab, Coatbridge & Chryston).

And the Tory motion on a UK Genral Election passed by 78 (SNP/Con/LD/Margo) to 42 (Labour/Green):

That the Parliament believes that the interests of Scotland and the United Kingdom would be best served by holding a general election for a new House of Commons as soon as possible.

Following this came the SNP motion on the National Waste Strategy. The Labour amendment was waved through. The Tory motion passed by 78 (SNP/Tory/LD/Margo) to 40 (Labour) with two (Green) abstentions.

The LibDem amendment fell by 64 - most of the SNP, the Tories, Greens and Margo - to 56 - Labour, the LibDems and Kenneth Gibson (SNP, Cunninghame North). After this, Margo MacDonald clearly left the Chamber, but the Greens still had an amendment and it passed by 65 - the SNP, Tories, Greens and Nicol Stephen - to 54 - Labour and the remaining LibDems.

Following that, the amended motion passed by 79 (everyone but Labour) to 1 - Charlie Gordon (Lab, Glasgow Cathcart) with 39 abstentions - the rest of the Labour Group:

That the Parliament notes Scotland's achievement of its share of the 2010 landfill diversion target 18 months early; encourages the Scottish Government to continue working with stakeholders to further improve recycling rates, increase reuse and do more on waste prevention; recognises however that the provisions of the EU-revised Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) are required to be transposed into Scots law by 12 December 2010; notes the forthcoming consultation on the new National Waste Management Plan; believes that the new plan must fully address the waste hierarchy of prevention, reuse, recycling, recovery and disposal, as described in the National Waste Plan 2003 and the revised EU framework directive; notes that, in order to meet medium and long-term targets, the issue of developing further waste infrastructure must be tackled, as a priority, to better address the management, reduction, recycling and disposal of commercial and industrial waste in Scotland, and believes that, given the good progress being made so far, there should be no necessity for any large-scale waste-to-energy plants to be built in Scotland and that reuse, reducing waste creation and recycling are the best way forward.


Ted Harvey said...

If I'm reading this correctly, Charlie Gordon went against the rest of Labour to vote against the final amended motion on waste - why?!

Was this just him being him... just still not managed to free himself from juvenile gameship as he previously practiced at Cooncil level... or will we one day find out that he was speaking for some sort of external interested party?

Will said...

It could just as easily be cock-up: he could have simply misread the Whips' instructions, or pressed the wrong button. I tend to work on the basis that it actually is a muddle rather than a fiddle, though the implications of that are equally grim.

If you're not willing to trust them, we have shady characters in Parliament. If you're willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, then we have gibbering incompetents instead.

Depressing, isn't it?

Julie said...

Now that last motion is very interesting. We are getting a waste-to-energy plant in Greengairs near Airdrie, or an incinerator in layman's speak. That will nicely complement the superdump that SEPA is never away from. Would that the government would intervene on this one..


Ted harvey said...

OK I'm going for muddle. I particpated in the parliamentary chamber a couple of Fridays ago in the Poverty plenary debate and on sitting on one of the MSP seats I thought then the panel and voting buttons could be a challenge for some of them that I have met :-)

By the way at the plenary there was some gob smacking stuff from Jospeh Rowntree Foundation and the Scottish Poverty Information Unit on how in Scotland over the past ten years the top 10% richest have at least stayed the same or got slightly richer... whilst the bottom three groups have simply moved from one poverty stricken deck chair to another.

And to think that John Hill of LSE asserts (probably correctly) that the past ten years under a Labour Govt is probably as good as it will get with regards to poverty in the UK!

On muddle being as grim as fiddle... I suppose that could be a moot point if you were wrongly arraigned after the revolution and finding yourself against the firing squad musing 'well at least its a mistake and they didnae actually mean to liquidate me'.