Well, it's the last Sunday Whip of the season, and what a corker!
Wednesday saw an all-day sitting for the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill, and a whopping 15 amendments went to the vote.
Two MSPs missed the whole thing, namely Labour's Shadow Environment Minister Elaine Murray (Dumfries) and Constitution Minister Mike Russell (South of Scotland). Otherwise, it was the usual case of Members walking in and walking out again.
The Greens' Amendment 6 fell by 119 (everyone but the Greens) votes to two: also absent were Tory Deputy Leader Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland & Fife), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians), Labour's Shadow Sport Minister Frank McAveety (Glasgow Shettleston), Tom McCabe (Lab, Hamilton South), and Irene Oldfather (Lab, Cunninghame South).
Following this, the SNP's Alasdair Morgan (South of Scotland) took no further part in voting, having donned his DPO's hat.
LibDem Amendment 11 fell by 104 (SNP/Lab/Tories) to 18 (LD/Greens). Murdo Fraser, Frank McAveety and Irene Oldfather took part in this one, but Margo MacDonald and Tom McCabe were still absent, and Duncan McNeil (Lab, Greenock & Inverclyde) missed the vote.
At this stage, Trish Godman withdrew from proceedings, with a view to chairing them later on.
Green Amendment 12 fell by 103 to 18, with the same party split.
Green Amendment 15 fell by 103 to 19: Duncan McNeil returned to the Chamber, but Malcolm Chisholm (Lab, Edinburgh North & Leith) voted in favour of the amendment. Green Amendment 17 fell by 120 (everyone but the Greens) to 2.
The first Government amendment, Amendment 18, passed by 79 (everyone but Labour) to 43. Government Amendment 20AA passed by 101 to 18 (LD/Greens). Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Rhona Brankin (Midlothian), Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Cathy Jamieson (Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley) and Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon (Glasgow Govan) missed this one as well as the others. For the record, Amendments 20A and 20, passed without dissent.
Government Amendment 23 squeaked through by 60 (SNP/Tories) to 59 (Labour/LD/Greens). Rhona Brankin had returned, the others had not, while Rhods Grant (Lab, Highlands & Islands) was MIA.
Labour's Amendment 107 fell by 61 (SNP/Tories/Margo) votes to 60. Rhoda Grant had returned, and obviously Margo was present, but otherwise, the same MSPs were absent.
Green Amendment 108 fell by 118 to 3 (Greens/Margo). There were no surprises.
Labour Amendment 113 saw a tied vote, at 60 votes each, with LibDem Leader Tavish Scott choosing a bad time to nip out: Labour, the LibDems, Greens and Margo had voted in favour, but the SNP and Tories voted against, and convention dictated that DPO Trish Godman had to use her casting vote against her own party's amendment. Had Scott been in the right place at the right time, she would have been spared that.
It was at this stage that Tom McCabe finally rocked up, whereupon he helped to defeat the Government, whose Amendment 38 fell by 62 (Labour/LD/Green/Margo) to 60. Government Amendment 49 went the same way, with one odd variation: the SNP's Bill Wilson (West of Scotland) voted against the amendment, but was cancelled out by LibDem John Farquhar Munro (Ross, Skye & Inverness West) voting in favour.
With only two votes left, Cathy Jamieson and Nicola Sturgeon returned to the fray, but Margo MacDonald and Jack McConnell (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw) withdrew from the Chamber. They missed the passage of Government Amendment 85 by 77 (SNP/Tories/LDs) to 45 (Labour/Greens), and the failure of Labour Amendment 2 by 62 (most of the SNP, all the LibDems and both Greens) to 60, where Labour and the Tories were joined by the SNP's Angela Constance (Livingston), but it wasn't enough.
So with all of that done, and the Business Motions waved through, the Bill was passed unanimously, as was the motion that the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Bill reach Stage 1 by 16 January 2010 (Shit, if we're thinking about 2010 already, I'd better start my Christmas shopping!) and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exclusions and Exceptions) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2009
Thursday, meanwhile, had an air of predictability about it, and was so predictable that Labour's Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Sarah Boyack (Edinburgh Central), Margo MacDonald, LibDem Environment Spokesman Liam McArthur (Orkney), Nanette Milne (Con, North East Scotland), Peter Peacock (Lab, Highlands & Islands), Mike Pringle (LD, Edinburgh South), Elaine Smith (Lab, Coatbridge & Chryston), LibDem Education Spokesperson Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West) and Labour's Shadow Children's Minister Karen Whitefield (Airdrie & Shotts) all gave it a miss.
First came the motions on the Calman Commission: the SNP amendment fell by 72 (everyone but the SNP) to 47, while the motion itself passed by 69 (Labour, and most of the Tories and all the present LibDems) to 49 (SNP and Greens) with one abstention: Margaret Mitchell (Con, Central Scotland), who, it seems, knew what she was doing, refusing to back the following:
That the Parliament warmly welcomes the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution's report, Serving Scotland Better: Scotland and the United Kingdom in the 21st Century, which is based firmly on evidence and engagement with the people of Scotland; thanks the chair and members of the commission for their work on behalf of the Parliament and the UK Government; agrees that the commission's report is a comprehensive response to the remit approved by the Parliament on 6 December 2007; welcomes the establishment of the steering group to take forward the report's recommendations to strengthen devolution and enable the Parliament, through new powers and responsibilities, to serve the people of Scotland better in the United Kingdom; calls on the Scottish Government to make fully available the resources of the Scottish administration to cooperate in this respect, and calls on the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body to continue to allocate appropriate resources and funding to enable the Parliament to support the work of the steering group and consider the recommendations that apply to the Parliament.
Following that, the SPPA Committee's motion passed without dissent:
That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee's 7th Report 2009 (Session 3), Hybrid Bills (SP Paper 299), and agrees that changes to Standing Orders set out in Annexe A to the report be made with effect from 26 June 2009.
Finally, the Arbitration (Scotland) Bill was waved through Stage 1, and LCM regarding the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Bill was passed unanimously, and MSPs were happy to approve a minor SNP Committee reshuffle.
And that's it now, until September. Through the week, I'll have the Summer Whip on line.
28 June 2009
Well, it's the last Sunday Whip of the season, and what a corker!