16 May 2010

The Sunday Whip

A quiet-ish week, doubtless as attention was still turned to the shenanigans at Westminster, and the formation of the Coalition Government there.

Anyway. Wednesday was mostly consensual, with only one vote taken. There were twenty absentees: Rhona Brankin (Lab, Midlothian), Ted Brocklebank (Con, Mid Scotland & Fife), Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston), Helen Eadie (Lab, Dunfermline East), George Foulkes (Lab, Lothians), Shadow Rural Development Minister Karen Gillon (Clydesdale), Cathy Jamieson (Lab, Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley), Bill Kidd (SNP, Glasgow), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians), Tricia Marwick (SNP, Central Fife), Enterprise Minister Jim Mather (Argyll & Bute), LibDem Local Government Spokesperson Alison McInnes (North East Scotland), Ian McKee (SNP, Lothians), Margaret Mitchell (Con, Central Scotland), John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West), Mike Pringle (LD, Edinburgh South), LibDem Leader Tavish Scott (Shetland), Shadow Public Health Minister Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland & Fife), Jim Tolson (LD, Dunfermline West) and Shadow Children's Minister Karen Whitefield (Airdrie & Shotts).

They missed the passage of the Business Motions without dissent, of course. And a European and External Affairs Committee motion on the European Commission's Work Programme:

That the Parliament welcomes the European Commission Work Programme, published by the European Commission on 31 March 2010; notes that it is likely to inform European Union policy for the next five years, and supports in particular the proposals for delivering a new economic strategy (Europe 2020) and allied platform to combat poverty, the commitment to further develop renewable energy and the energy grid, the recognition of the need to reform both the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy and the desire to restructure the European Union's budget.

Then came the Government motion on the Zero Waste Plan: Labour and Tory amendments were passed without quibble, but a LibDem amendment went to a vote, and passed by 49 (Lab/LD) votes to 43 (SNP) with 16 (Tory/Green) abstentions. The amended motion was waved through:

That the Parliament notes the need for a coherent zero-waste policy approach to encourage waste prevention and efficient use of all resources; supports measures to increase recycling and deliver high-quality recycled materials, to ensure resources are recovered and treated in the most environmentally beneficial way and to minimise the disposal of resources into landfill; looks to the forthcoming Zero Waste Plan for Scotland to provide clear long-term policy stability for the necessary investment to deliver a zero-waste Scotland and to address the concerns raised in the Audit Scotland report, Protecting and improving Scotland's environment, that councils need additional waste management facilities to meet national landfill and recycling targets; considers that greater encouragement to recycle and reuse must be given to the commercial and industrial sector and that a focus must be placed on ensuring that the necessary infrastructure is created and put in place in moving toward a zero-waste society; regrets the delay in the publication of the Zero Waste Plan, and recognises the necessity of meeting EU landfill diversion targets in order to avoid potentially punitive fines.

The General Principles of the William Simpson's Home (Transfer of Property etc.) (Scotland) Bill were approved on the nod, and the Bureau motions were waved through.

Thursday had a little more meat, and fewer absentees: Karen Gillon, Rhoda Grant (Lab, Highlands & Islands), Hugh Henry (Lab, Paisley South), Margo MacDonald, Alison McInnes, Ian McKee, John Farquhar Munro, Mike Pringle and Labour Chief Whip David Stewart (Highlands & Islands).

First came Stage 1 of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill. A Labour amendment to the motion fell by 64 (SNP/Tory/Green) votes to 55, but the motion itself passed by 64 votes to 0 with 55 abstentions, and the Financial Resolution passed on the nod.

Finally, there was the Government motion on the NHS Scotland Quality Strategy. A Labour amendment fell by 62 (SNP/Tory) votes to 55 (Lab/LD) with two Green abstentions, the Tory amendment was waved through and the LibDem amendment fell by 62 to 57. The motion itself was passed without further dissent:

That the Parliament commends The Healthcare Quality Strategy for NHSScotland as the right approach, at the right time, to delivering the highest quality healthcare to everybody in Scotland, responding to what they want, need and deserve and, through this, to ensuring that the quality of healthcare services across NHS Scotland becomes recognised as among the best in the world, and calls on the Scottish Government to report back to the Parliament by the end of summer recess on how it intends to respond to the needs highlighted in the report, The Healthcare Quality Strategy for NHSScotland, in order to protect NHS frontline services.

Though, had I been there, I would have challenged the absence of a space in "NHSScotland".

And that's it for another week. Next week, there's a Local Government Committee debate on Local Government Finance, Labour Business on Thursday morning, and a Government debate on the High Speed Rail Link.

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