14 March 2010

The Sunday Whip

Another quiet week, and largely a decent one for the Government. I'd have thought that by now, things would be getting ultra-confrontational in advance of the General Election (I still think that in the next few weeks we should stand by for Parliament failing to take positions on anything as everyone retreats to 'attack' mode and motions or amendments fail to attract any support beyond the party submitting them), but that hasn't started yet. And MSPs didn't have to cross a picket line for the Chamber sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.

Anyway. There were 12 absentees on Wednesday: Gavin Brown (Con, Lothians), Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston), Hugh Henry (Lab, Paisley South), John Lamont (Con, Roxburgh & Berwickshire), Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead (Moray), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians), Jack McConnell (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw), Duncan McNeil (Lab, Greenock & Inverclyde), Shadow Housing Minister Mary Mulligan (Linlithgow), John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West), Mike Pringle (LD, Edinburgh South), and Alex Salmond (Gordon).

They missed the Government motion on aquaculture. A Labour amendment fell by 58 - SNP and Tory votes; Ian McKee (SNP, Lothians) missed this one - to 43 (Lab/Green) with 14 abstentions. A Tory amendment passed by 73 (SNP/Con/LD) to 43 (Lab/Green), while a Green amendment fell by 114 to 2. The amended motion passed by 113 - Shadow Education Secretary Des McNulty missed this one - to 0 with two Green abstentions:

That the Parliament notes the continued development of an ambitious and sustainable Scottish aquaculture industry; recognises the economic importance of the industry to Scotland as a whole and many coastal communities in particular; calls on the Scottish Government to clarify what action it is taking to develop and retain a skilled and qualified workforce in the sector; supports industry calls for greater clarity about the food consumers buy through country of origin labelling, and invites ministers to make clear their intentions regarding any moves to amend protected geographical status for Scottish farmed salmon; notes the considerable work being carried out under the auspices of A Fresh Start - the renewed Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture, published on 21 May 2009; notes the continuing need to consult with industry stakeholders on the development of the industry in Scotland, and further notes that ways must be found to streamline the planning process and remove barriers to the development and growth of the fish farming industry such as the lack of affordable housing and available sites for fish farms in order to allow the industry to grow to its full potential.

Following that, MSPs waved through the following SSIs:

Budget (Scotland) Act 2009 Amendment Order 2010

Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2010

Public Appointments and Public Bodies etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 (Treatment of Office or Body as Specified Authority) Order 2010

Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 2010

Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications and Deemed Applications) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2010

Local Government Investments (Scotland) Regulations 2010

Thursday went along much the same lines. There were 13 absentees: Gavin Brown, Angela Constance (SNP, Livingston), Tory Deputy Leader Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland & Fife) and his boss Annabel Goldie (West of Scotland), Shadow Enterprise Minister Lewis Macdonald (Aberdeen Central), Mary Mulligan, John Farquhar Munro (whose last vote in Parliament was on 21 January, this is not a good sign at all), Housing Minister Alex Neil (Central Scotland), Shadow Climate Change Minister Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East), Public Health Minister Shona Robison (Dundee East), LibDem Leader Tavish Scott (Shetland), Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson (Banff & Buchan) and Jamie Stone (LD, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross).

First came the Tory motion on the management of schools: the SNP amendment passed without quibble, but the Labour amendment fell by 69 (SNP/Con/LD) to 44 - Labour/Greens again: Wendy Alexander (Lab, Paisley North) missed this one - with one abstention. And you know who that was by now. Anyway, the LibDem amendment was waved through while the amended motion passed by 67 to 3 with 43 abstentions. Christine Grahame (SNP, South of Scotland) and Margo MacDonald gave this vote a miss, while SNP Chief Whip Brian Adam voted against the motion along with the Greens; the rest of his party voted in favour with the Tories and LibDems (as he's the Whip, was he the rebel, or were the other 41 rebelling?):

That the Parliament agrees with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning that "choice and diversity are the hallmarks of a mature and confident society" in the provision of state-funded education and that it is now time to explore alternative models for delivery of school education with a view to empowering head teachers, raising standards and increasing parental choice; welcomes the community trust model for schools put forward by East Lothian Council as worthy of further examination and believes that this and other models to be found elsewhere in Europe should be the subject of detailed consideration and debate; recognises that Scottish education is generally of good quality with many important strengths; believes that any alternative models that are considered should build on these strengths and preclude academic selection as a legitimate criterion for school entry, and calls on the Scottish Government to publish an options paper on models of school organisation to facilitate this; believes that any changes to the model of school organisation should be motivated by raising attainment and improving pupil outcomes rather than profit and dogma; recognises the benefits of greater community and parental involvement in the management of schools; notes that the implementation of a new curriculum, falling teacher numbers and straitened budgets remain key areas of concern for education professionals, and recognises the cross-party consensus behind the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee's examination of the management of schools.

Following that was the SNP motion on serious and organised crime. A Labour amendment passed by 56 (Lab/Con) to one - John Wilson (SNP, Central Scotland) with 58 (the rest of the SNP along with the LibDems, Greens and Margo) abstaining. Tory and LibDem amendments were waved through, as was the actual motion:

That the Parliament recognises that serious organised crime can have a devastating impact on communities and businesses in Scotland; further recognises that tackling this menace should be a key priority for a Safer and Stronger Scotland; supports the role of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce in spearheading Scotland's commitment to address this type of crime; supports Scottish law enforcement in implementing the taskforce's serious organised crime strategy, Letting our Communities Flourish and supports the view that serious organised crime cannot be seen to pay; believes that the Scottish Government should ensure that there are no further delays in the construction of the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, which was originally due for completion this year but is now not expected to be fully operational until mid-2013; supports the crucial role played by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency in ensuring that there is a co-ordinated strategy to tackling serious and organised crime in Scotland, and also believes that the Scottish Government must make progress in implementing the findings of the Joint Thematic Report on the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, published by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland and the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland, to ensure that there is greater success in seizing and recovering the assets of those who profit from crime and asks the Scottish Government to keep the entire issue of serious and organised crime under review in order that any further measures that may be deemed necessary can be considered; believes that, while good progress has been made on the recovery of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce must ensure that police and prosecutors use the Act to its full extent; notes with concern that there are no current convictions for human trafficking in Scotland, despite Glasgow being considered to be second only to London for the extent of people trafficking, and calls on the Scottish Government to take urgent, concerted and properly resourced action to break the misery of sex trafficking and to identify and support women being trafficked to Scotland, particularly in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

So that's another week passed. Next week, I'll be in Aviemore, running the rule over debates on Tourism and Malawi (those are two separate debates, MSPs will not be mulling over the merits of Lilongwe as a potential jaunt for their hollybobs), and Labour business.

1 comment:

J. R. Tomlin said...

After the loathsome behavior of the LibDem at Westminster, just pray that Holyrood doesn't fall to those standards.