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Donald Gorrie (Liberal Democrat)
I oppose the business motion because I believe that the Parliament should establish a policy that stage 3 debates on major bills get a full day—either a morning and an afternoon, or two afternoons, whichever is convenient. We repeatedly rush the stage 3 debates. Members get angry, but then they forget about it, so we should establish a proper policy.
The most recent example—the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Bill—was rushed through in a way that brought disgrace on the Parliament. That was the fault not of the minister, the Presiding Officer or anyone else, but of the system, which we must sort out. In that debate, only the minister spoke on many important amendments or, if another member had moved the lead amendment, only the minister and the mover spoke—virtually no other members got to speak. In the whole debate, only nine non-ministerial or non-mover speeches were made, which totalled less than 18 minutes. On the last 12 groups of amendments, nobody other than the minister and the mover of the lead amendment got to speak. That meant that there was no proper debate.
It is also useful to ministers to have amendments properly debated. At stage 2, ministers often give assurances that they will examine issues again if members withdraw or do not move certain amendments. Therefore, it is important to get on the record exactly what a minister's new amendment means, so that its