17 January 2010

The Sunday Whip

This was another quiet week - as though MSPs are keeping their powder dry for the Budget - and, as such, there was very little to pick at, save a chance for all the parties to gang up on the Government. That's the UK Government, mind, as everyone has their eye firmly on the General Election.

Anyway, we're still holding Consensus Wednesdays as besides the traditional waving through of the Business Motions, there were only two matters requiring a decision and they were both backed unanimously: Stage 1 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Bill and a Legislative Consent Motion on the Financial Services Bill.

Thursday saw a little more dissent and ten MSPs missed Decision Time: LibDem Health Spokesman Ross Finnie (West of Scotland), Shadow Rural Development Minister Karen Gillon (Clydesdale), Christine Grahame (SNP, South of Scotland), Rhoda Grant (Lab, Highlands & Islands), LibDem Local Government Spokesperson Alison McInnes (North East Scotland), Mike Pringle (LibDem, Edinburgh South), Tory Health Spokesperson Mary Scanlon (Highlands & Islands), LibDem Education Spokesperson Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West), Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP, Lothians) and Jim Tolson (LibDem, Dunfermline West).

It started with a Labour Party motion, which unusually saw (near) consensus and also gave Labour the chance to get a little credit as well - not bad going for the Opposition. SNP and LibDem amendments were waved through but a Tory amendment fell by 102 (SNP/Labour/LD/Green) votes to 15 (the Tories on their own) with Margo abstaining. The motion itself went through without a vote:

That the Parliament welcomes the report of the Literacy Commission, set up by Labour, and its recommendations on actions needed to support the acquisition of basic literacy skills and the development of higher-order literacy-related skills; calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward as a matter of priority, following discussion with the Literacy Commission and all stakeholders, a literacy action plan within the context of the Curriculum for Excellence, which has the aim of raising standards of literacy at every level; notes also the successful role of trade unions in promoting literacy and numeracy among adults and the commission's support for nurture groups in primary schools in areas of disadvantage as pioneered by Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire, Clackmannanshire councils and others, and suggests that, in order to assist those children facing the biggest barriers, the Scottish Government work in partnership with local authorities serving areas with concentrations of socio-economic disadvantage to implement and assess pilot schemes that can provide continuous and systematic support for families with children in the birth to three age group and make sure that these efforts produce benefits for children from low-income families wherever they live in Scotland.

Then came the SNP motion on Attendance Allowance for people with disabilities. A Labour amendment fell by 75 votes - the other parties along with Peter Peacock (Lab, Highlands & Islands) to 43, while the motion itself passed by 73 - most of the SNP, as well as the Tories, LibDems, Greens and Margo - to 45 - Labour plus the Enterprise Minister Jim Mather (Argyll & Bute), who, given that he remains the Enterprise Minister, must have pressed the wrong button. And not for the first time. Anyway, despite Jim Mather getting mixed up, the motion passed was as follows:

That the Parliament notes that the UK Green Paper, Shaping the Future of Care Together, published in June 2009, may have long-term implications for vulnerable older and disabled people in Scotland who are eligible for attendance allowance and disability living allowance as it proposes to remove the universal benefits of attendance allowance and disability living allowance and instead redesign the benefit system to meet English social policy objectives and redirect funding to pay for the provision of a National Care Service in England, while failing to give adequate consideration to the position in Scotland, and calls on HM Government to consult fully with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, local authorities, NHS boards and other interested parties before proceeding any further.

And so ended another week. Next week is the start of the biggie: Stage 1 of the Budget Debate. The upshot of this is that Consensus Wednesdays will be put on hold...

1 comment:

Julie said...

Clairwil did a very good post on the Adult Care green paper here;


Glad that the Scottish Parliament has picked up on it. Attendance Allowance is one of the clearer and better benefits; it is also given according to need.