15 November 2009

The Sunday Whip

A quiet week, mainly as MSPs' minds - and, in many cases, bodies - were elsewhere. Specifically, Glasgow North East.

Anyway, Wednesday was a model of consensus: the Business Motions were waved through, as was a smaller Committee reshuffle and a motion on the Office of the Clerk. The only substantive motion was on Scotland's Historic Environment, moved by the Government, with Tory and LibDem amendments. They were all nodded through:

That the Parliament welcomes the enthusiasm, passion and co-operation shown by all of the participants at the first Summit for the Built and Historic Environment held at the Bute Hall in Glasgow on Tuesday 3 November 2009 and recognises the valuable resource for the Scottish people and economy represented by Scotland's rich and varied heritage; particularly commends recent initiatives to save the nation's buildings at risk, involving bodies such as Historic Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund; welcomes the continuing and vital involvement in this restoration work of private individuals and the voluntary sector; looks forward to hearing a comprehensive account of the discussions that took place at the summit, and encourages the Scottish Government to work constructively with Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland and to develop relationships with the non-governmental sector to ensure the sustainability of Scotland's built environment and to maintain and improve public access to it.

Thursday saw only one dent in the consensus, which highlighted just how many people were across the M8:

For the SNP, only 21 MSPs were around. They were Brian Adam (Aberdeen North), Schools Minister Keith Brown (Ochil), Parliament Minister Bruce Crawford (Stirling), Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham (Perth), Nigel Don (North East Scotland), Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn & Lochaber), Linda Fabiani (Central Scotland), Rob Gibson (Highlands & Islands), Christine Grahame (South of Scotland), Children's Minister Adam Ingram (South of Scotland), Bill Kidd (Glasgow), Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh East & Musselburgh), Enterprise Minister Jim Mather (Argyll & Bute), Michael Matheson (Falkirk West), Stewart Maxwell (West of Scotland), Ian McKee (Lothians), Christina McKelvie (Central Scotland), Alasdair Morgan (South of Scotland), Housing Minister Alex Neil (Central Scotland), Dave Thompson (Highlands & Islands) and Bill Wilson (West of Scotland). The rest were absent, though Jamie Hepburn was doubtless awaiting the birth of his baby daughter - congrats to him and Julie!

For Labour, only 16 MSPs were about: Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton), Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Baker (North East Scotland), Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Sarah Boyack (Edinburgh Central), Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North & Leith), George Foulkes (Lothians), Shadow Rural Development Minister Karen Gillon (Clydesdale), Shadow Transport Minister Charlie Gordon (Glasgow Cathcart), James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen), Shadow Enterprise Minister Lewis Macdonald (Aberdeen Central), Shadow Sport Minister Frank McAveety (Glasgow Shettleston), Jack McConnell (Motherwell & Wishaw), Shadow Culture Secretary Pauline McNeill (Glasgow Kelvin), Shadow Communities Minister Mary Mulligan (Linlithgow), Irene Oldfather (Cunninghame South), Shadow Cabinet Secretary Without Portfolio John Park (Mid Scotland & Fife - he's supposed to be in charge of elections and campaigns, so WTF was he doing at Holyrood?) and Shadow Public Health Minister Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland & Fife). The remaining thirty MSPs were missing.

The Tories had a full compliment, as did the Greens. The LibDems were almost all present and correct, with four absentees: Justice Spokesman Robert Brown (Glasgow), Leader Tavish Scott (Shetland), Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) and Jim Tolson (Dunfermline West). Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians) was absent as well.

They missed a Government motion on the Central Scotland Green Network: the Labour amendment was waved through but the LibDem amendment fell by 54 votes to 13. The LibDems' only other supporter was Labour's Richard Simpson: the remaining MSPs voted against, but the motion passed without dissent:

That the Parliament recognises and supports the significant contribution that the Central Scotland Green Network can make to the quality of life of the three million people living in the central belt, not just through environmental and social benefits, such as improving habitat networks, enhancing landscapes, mitigating climate change, improving health and wellbeing and stimulating educational and cultural activity, outdoor recreation and community involvement, but also through increasing economic benefits, such as business development, urban regeneration and derelict land restoration, and believes that there is a need for cooperation among the Scottish Government, local authorities and agencies and groups working in the area to ensure that maximum opportunities are delivered from the network.

Finally, a Government motion on Community Fire Safety in Scotland and its Tory amendment both passed without dissent:

That the Parliament notes the Scottish Government's commitment to working in partnership with local government and the fire and rescue services to reduce fires and fire deaths in Scotland and that recommendations in the Scotland Together community fire safety study will contribute to a continued partnership approach to fire prevention, and calls on the Scottish fire and rescue authorities to consider the benefits of joint working.

And that was that. Regular service will, I suppose, resume next week.

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