14 February 2010

The Sunday Whip

A surprisingly humdrum week, really, given the various stushies regarding who MSPs are supposed to represent. Indeed, the usual arrangement of consensus Wednesdays followed by ugly Thursdays was broken, and the only votes were taken on Wednesday. And even that day saw a fair amount of consensus.

So we'll start with the absentees: Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston) was missing: was she trawling the blogosphere for sources of synthetic rage? I'm sure she'll let us know what she was doing in a press release...

But I digress. The other absentees were Deputy Leader of the Opposition Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok), Stewart Maxwell (SNP, West of Scotland), LibDem Environment Spokesman Liam McArthur (Orkney), Tom McCabe (Lab, Hamilton South - he hasn't cast a Parliamentary vote in a fortnight now, is he OK?), Duncan McNeil (Lab, Greenock & Inverclyde), John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West - he hasn't cast a vote for three weeks, so I'm guessing that he is indeed unwell again), Irene Oldfather (Lab, Cunninghame South) and LibDem Leader Tavish Scott (Shetland).

Anyway. Before the votes, the Business Motions were waved through, as were the General Principles of the Ure Elder Fund Transfer and Dissolution Bill (a Private Bill), and Stage 1 of the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Bill. The Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2010 passed by 106 (everyone but the LibDems) to one - Nicol Stephen (LD, Aberdeen South) - with 12 abstentions.

Next came the establishment of the Committee to handle the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill. An amendment submitted by the Bill's author, Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians) would have had the Bill referred to the Health & Sport Committee instead, but that amendment fell by 69 - Labour/Tory/LD: LibDem Finance Spokesman Jeremy Purvis (Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale) opted not to hang around for this - to 49 (SNP/Greens/Margo). The motion itself then passed by 69 votes to 48, with Alasdair Morgan (SNP, South of Scotland) abstaining. So the Committee was formed, will be convened by Ross Finnie, deputised by a member of the SNP, and Parliament agreed to the Labour, LibDem and Tory members of the Committee.

Following that, Parliament waved through the Public Appointments and Public Bodies etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 (Amendment of Specified Authorities) Order 2010, the Health Board Elections (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2010, the recess dates for October and when the Clerk's Office will be open in the Autumn.

Thursday, meanwhile, saw lots more nodding: An amended Business Motion was agreed; The Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Bill and its amendments were waved through, as were an SNP motion on BBC Alba and amendments from Labour, the Tories and LibDems:

That the Parliament welcomes the contribution made by BBC Alba to Scottish culture and the promotion of the Gaelic language since its launch in September 2008; believes that BBC Alba's growing viewership, along with the direct employees and the independent broadcasters working for the channel, requires assurances about its long-term economic and cultural future; believes that this contribution would be even greater if BBC Alba was available on a wider variety of broadcasting platforms; and therefore calls on the BBC management and Virgin Media to resolve the ongoing dispute regarding carrying BBC channels on the cable network to ensure the widest possible access to BBC Alba; urges the BBC Trust to decide to make BBC Alba available on Freeview following its recent consultation on this issue, however the removal of existing BBC radio stations from the digital terrestrial TV platform in Scotland should not have to be a consideration in that decision; further believes that all Scottish residents should have access to the full range of broadcasting following digital switchover, and calls on the UK Government to require that all relay transmitters in Scotland are capable of transmitting the full range of Freeview channels by the 2010 and 2011 launch dates.

Parliament also boted the Equal Opportunities Committee's report: Female offenders in the criminal justice system, agreed an LCM for the Crime and Security Bill, and appointed the SNP members of the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill Committee.

So a busy, but largely consensual week, despite the row over Nicola Sturgeon's representation of her constituents. Next week will be even more consensual.

They're in recess.

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