04 July 2010

The Sunday Whip

You know how when you have a deadline, you tend to put things off until the last minute, then run around like a blue-arsed fly trying to get everything done in time? Well, that was this week at Holyrood, the last before the Summer Recess.

Indeed, there was so much to get through that they had to spend Wednesday morning in the Chamber in addition to the customary Wednesday afternoon and all of Thursday pattern that we're all used to by now.

Anyway. Wednesday was taken up almost in its entirety with the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill, and the 26 amendments that went to a vote.

12 of those amendments came from the SNP. Of those, two fell: Amendment 198 couldn't get any support beyond the SNP, while Amendment 171 found backing from the Greens but only them. Amendments 54 and 166 passed with only Labour opposing, while Amendment 62 passed with Labour abstaining and everyone else in support. Amendment 2 squeaked through with backing only from Margo MacDonald, but Labour abstention basically handed the SNP a majority. Amendments 61, 3 and 172 overcame opposition from Labour and the Tories (though Margo abstained on 172), Amendments 70 and 71 had support from all of the Big 4, with only the Greens and Margo forcing a vote, while Amendment 63 saw the SNP, Labour, Greens and Margo comfortably overcome opposition from the Tories and LibDems.

A further six amendments came from Labour, none of which passed. Amendment 199 got LibDem support, but that wasn't enough for it to be carried, and Amendments 164 and 165 saw the LibDems abstain but everyone else oppose. The other three, Amendments 6, 79 and 4 saw Labour isolated in the Chamber.

That left the eight LibDem amendments, of which only one passed, with only the SNP and Margo opposing Amendment 11. Amendment 9 came close, with Labour and the Greens in support but blocked by the SNP, Tories and Margo. Amendment 13 got the backing of the Tories, Greens and Margo, but that was never enough to overcome the combined voting strength of the SNP and Labour, well except Labour's Business Manager Paul Martin, who abstained. Oops! Amendment 12 secured Tory backing but nothing more, and Amendment 14 got support from the Greens and Margo. This left Amendments 190, 191 and 16, where only the Greens would come to the LibDems' aid.

Still, at Decision Time, the Bill passed, by 64 (SNP/LibDem/Green/Margo) votes to 61, with John Farquhar Munro (Ross, Skye & Inverness West) and Business Manager Mike Rumbles (West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine) missing for the LibDems, and Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland) absent for the Tories.

And just to add to the overload, there was that rare beast a vote on an SSI, with the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts (Scotland) Order 2010 passing by 65 (SNP/Con/Green/Margo) to 60 (Lab/LD).

This was followed by the waving through of the National Health Service (Reimbursement of the Cost of EEA Treatment) (Scotland) Regulations 2010, the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications and Deemed Applications) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2010, the Applications by Creditors (Pre-Action Requirements) (Scotland) Order 2010 and the Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act 2010 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2010.

Thursday saw the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill reach its conclusion with 17 amendments going to a vote, and a fiasco whereby Amendment 93 should have gone to a vote, but Deputy Presiding Officer Trish Godman failed to hear Roseanna Cunningham and others voice their disagreement to its passage and all hell broke loose. Never mind video replays in football, this week there were calls for it in the Scottish Parliament!

Anyway, of the 17 amendments that saw a vote, the SNP had one, Amendment 107, which passed with Tory support, against Labour and LibDem opposition. Margo had wandered off at this point and the Greens had either gone for an early lunch or opted to do a runner.

LibDem Amendment 198 fell when they could only get Labour to back it, and the remaining amendments all came from Labour and all fell as they could only muster LibDem support.

The Bill itself passed by 66 votes to none, with 59 Labour and LibDem abstentions: John Farquhar Munro, Mike Pringle (LD, Edinburgh South) and LibDem Culture Spokesman Iain Smith (North East Fife) missed the final vote, though Smith was back in for a vote on a Labour amendment to a Finance Committee motion on the Budget Strategy Phase 2011-12.

The amendment fell by 64 votes to 62 (SNP, Tories and Margo in favour; Labour, LibDems and Greens against), but the motion itself, which simply noted the Committee's report and suggested that the Government ought to have a look at it, passed without dissent, as did a minor Committee reshuffle.

So that's Holyrood for the Summer. I'm hoping to sum up the term tomorrow, and later in the week, I'll join the latest wave of blogosphere navel-gazing...

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