20 September 2009

The Sunday Whip

This was broadly consensual, as I suspected last week, though the Road Safety Framework did produce dissent. Don't you just love party politics?

Anyway. Wednesday was fairly quiet. Following the traditional waving through of the Business motions, members were happy to note the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Health & Sport Committee's 5th report: Pathways into Sport and Physical Activity. They then proceeded to nod through the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2009, and a minor reshuffle of the Tory committee substitutes.

Thursday saw a number of absentees - a mark of the fact that nothing was going to be decided on a knife-edge. Absent were Labour's Shadow Further and Higher Education Minister Claire Baker (Mid Scotland & Fife), Hugh Henry (Lab, Paisley South), Marilyn Livingstone (Lab, Kirkcaldy), Michael Matheson (SNP, Falkirk West), Tom McCabe (Lab, Hamilton South), Jack McConnell (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw), Labour Shadow Parliament Minister Michael McMahon (Hamilton North & Bellshill), Labour's Shadow Housing & Communities Minister Mary Mulligan (Linlithgow), Mike Pringle (LD, Edinburgh South), Elaine Smith (Lab, Coatbridge & Chryston), Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP, Lothians) and Jamie Stone (LD, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross).

began with the SNP motion on Diageo, which saw Tory and LibDem amendments, all of which were carried unanimously:

That the Parliament believes that major commercial decisions in Scotland should be made in the context of sustainable economic development; regrets that the proposals by Diageo to close Port Dundas Distillery in Glasgow and the Kilmarnock packaging plant abandoned long-standing workforces and plants while taking little responsibility for the consequent public costs of their decisions; urges the Scottish Government to ensure that government support of communities faced with major job losses is applied consistently across all communities in Scotland; recognises the work of the Diageo Taskforce to safeguard jobs in the west of Scotland; notes with real disappointment that the taskforce and Diageo were unable to agree a way forward; recognises that support for the individuals and communities affected is a major priority; calls on the Scottish Government to support the trades unions in their efforts to ensure that an extension on the proposed closure of Port Dundas is fully considered, that the proposed new jobs in Leven are permanent and high quality in nature and the formal consultation process between Diageo and trades unions is extended to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to mitigate the closure of the Kilmarnock packaging plant; supports the continued work of taskforce members to tackle the devastating impacts that the job losses will have on the affected communities; calls on the Scottish Government to work together with the UK Government, local authorities and relevant agencies to encourage new job creation and new business start-ups in the affected communities and elsewhere in Scotland; recognises that Scotland must compete in a global market for the investment necessary to create and safeguard jobs, and calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that its actions are aimed at maximising such investment.

Following that came the Government motion on the Road Safety framework. The Labour amendment passed without dissent. The Tory amendment passed by 77 (SNP/Tory/LD/Green) votes to 39 (Labour/Margo). The LibDem amendment passed by 98 (SNP, all but one of the Labour MSPs present, the LibDems and Greens) to 18 - the Tories, along with Margo MacDonald and Labour's Shadow Economy & Skills Minister John Park (Mid Scotland & Fife). The final motion passed by 100 (everyone but the Tories) to 16:

That the Parliament welcomes the publication on 15 June 2009 of Scotland's Road Safety Framework to 2020; notes the significant reductions in the numbers of children and young people killed and seriously injured in the period 1997 to 2007; calls on the Scottish Government to prioritise making streets safer for cyclists and for vulnerable groups of pedestrians such as visually impaired and partially sighted people; notes the road safety vision for Scotland, which is in line with other leading road safety countries, and further notes the road safety targets, priorities and commitments and the support of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland to tackle road casualty reductions in Scotland over the next decade; notes that ongoing investment in the road network is crucial to making our roads safer; believes that road spending should be prioritised on the most dangerous black spots and those roads with the highest numbers of accidents and fatalities; reiterates its support for a reduction in the drink-driving limit from 80 mg to 50 mg per 100 ml of blood; expresses deep concern at the disproportionately high incidence of fatalities and serious injuries on rural roads, and calls for greater emphasis on specific, targeted action to improve the safety of Scotland's rural roads.

So that's another week gone. Wednesday looks to be fairly quiet - the business is limited to a statement on broadcasting and a Public Petitions Committee debate on the petitions process. Thursday, meanwhile, sees the first Labour business of the new term (that'll trigger more than a few votes, I'd imagine), and Stage 1 of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill. Given that the Health & Sport Committee was broadly happy to give its approval to the General Principles of the Bill - but that its report refers to a 'majority' of members - I'd imagine that it'll pass, but it'll go to a vote.

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