The next business is a debate on a motion from the First Minister, which seeks the agreement of the Parliament to the appointment of the junior Scottish ministers. I will put the question on the motion and on the amendment no later than one hour after the First Minister has opened the debate. I intend to select amendment S1M-5.1, as printed in the business bulletin.
I will be brief. We are debating the list of ministers outwith the Cabinet. Of course, I have no difficulty in commending the names on that list to members. I know that there has been some criticism of the size of the list. Mr David McLetchie made reference to that in this morning's debate. He used the phrase "an explosion of bureaucracy and red tape".
He said that he was looking for a "smaller, smarter" Administration that was not "bloated"-to use his happy word. I do not know whether my colleagues qualify as being bloated but the only explosion was probably of rhetoric.
I submit to the Parliament that there is a need for proper supervision of the Administration and for adequate scrutiny. As many people have said today, anyone who has served in the Scottish Office or who has a knowledge of the stress, strain and difficulty of stretching political scrutiny across the vast range of responsibilities previously held by the Scottish Office and now passed to this Parliament will understand why I believe that there must be an adequate group of ministers, each specialising in a particular area.
I want to make a small prediction. I may be wrong, but I predict that over the next week or two there will be criticism that we do not have an individual minister for such-and-such an area. If members look through the party manifestos-I would not necessarily recommend anyone to do so-they will see that those documents are sprinkled with demands for not just ministers, but separate ministries for a number of areas. I noticed in the press today that there was criticism of the fact that we do not have a separate ministry for tourism, as distinct from a minister responsible for tourism. The pressure may be to increase ministerial coverage, not to restrict it.
On the Cabinet side, we have a good basis. This is an occasion on which, surprisingly, I am totally
The SNP has criticised the choice rather than the number of ministers. What policy will a junior minister with specific responsibility for fisheries pursue on the transfer of 6,000 square miles of fishing waters to English jurisdiction? How did that transfer, which is causing such anxiety within the Scottish fishing industry, happen?
The junior minister, like the senior minister, would be expected to follow the collective policy of the Administration. He would not be allowed to go off on a fishing trip of his own, if I may put it that way. He would have to follow.
I am sure that we will return to the question of fishing. However, as Alex Salmond will know, the order was made in early March, and was explained in a Scottish Office press release at the time. The order went through the House of Commons on 23 March. If the SNP missed it-I can understand how such things happen-it, too, may have some explaining to do.
I believe that this group of junior ministers has talent and considerable relevant experience. I look forward to working with a very able group of ministers who will be of enormous support to the principal ministers in their departments. The junior ministers will be part of a corporate team; that is an important point.
We have heard a lot about tuition fees and this and that; we have also had some wonderful mixed metaphors. I particularly enjoyed David McLetchie's remark that the committee of inquiry was both a fudge and a fig leaf. I would have thought it would be either one or the other. If I could mix metaphors even more, he probably thinks that we are using belt and braces. In any event, it was a cheery debate.
In his speech, Jim Wallace referred to three substantial concessions that have been overlooked. Those substantial concessions are for those from poorer backgrounds who stay on at school to get university qualifications and who require financial support. There will also be support for part-time mature students. Moreover, the access fund has been increased to £14 million. Those concessions are worth underlining because they provide practical help and broaden the base of entry to higher education. Perhaps that-I put
Just let me finish. We have taken steps to ensure that there is a debate on these matters; no doubt such points can be addressed then.
Today, we are putting forward a team which I believe stands for partnership and progress. This is not a matter of scoring and totalling up points. Obviously, the partnership agreement is not an exhaustive list-it was never meant to be-but a way of establishing and proving that there is an identity of interest and a common approach over a wide spread of policy areas, which we believe will be the basis for the effective operation of government.
What I am interested in above all, and what I think people in Scotland are interested in, is in ensuring that the operation of government is effective and that the Government delivers on the key areas of the social justice agenda-education and health-in the way that was promised in the partnership document and in our respective Liberal Democrat and Labour manifestos. We have the people to do that; what we need now is the support of this chamber so that they can take up their ministerial posts and get on with the work.
That this Parliament agrees that
be appointed as junior Scottish Ministers.
I start by expressing the apologies of Annabel Goldie, who intended to move the amendment but was called away for a funeral.
If the First Minister does not recognise the difference between a fudge and a fig leaf, he does not inspire me with confidence. This morning, he referred to the misses that I made. I missed winning Ayr by 25 votes, reducing the Labour majority by some 6,500. I do not intend to miss it next time round.
This morning, there was a lot of hot air and indignation against those of us who dared to question the make-up of the First Minister's lists. The First Minister was dismissive about our amendment, which the Presiding Officer accepted for debate. He referred to a little huddle of amendments, which perhaps sets the tone for future Government-led debates.
Labour members express dismay at the loss of consensus in the new style of politics. In every respect, their way is the Blairite way: "Do not question, just accept and do what I say." That may be good enough for Labour and Liberal members, but it is certainly not good enough for Conservative members or for Dennis Canavan, as the points that he made this morning show.
New politics? The Scottish electorate would settle for honest politics. They would like to believe that politicians mean what they say, which is precisely what this amendment is about.
I have no beef with the Labour party other than over the number of ministerial positions created. Hugh Henry gave the game away to the Liberals this morning when he said that the partnership was about delivering on Labour's manifesto commitments. For the Labour party it may be partnership; for the Liberals it is absorption.
A comparison between the document "Partnership for Scotland" and the Liberals' election pledges emphasises the scale of the sell-out. That is why I ask members to support the amendment. I bear no personal animosity towards Nicol Stephen or Iain Smith. Like, I suspect, most of us in the chamber, I know little of them, but I know that they supported their leader when he said two days before the election that tuition fees would be dead on the following Friday.
Nicol Stephen boasted that the Liberals had done more than any other party to campaign against Labour's tuition fees, but he now condones them. How can he condone-how can we condone-the appointment of Nicol Stephen and Iain Smith as Government ministers when we
This morning, Conservatives were criticised for not having prepared the way for the abolition of tuition fees, but that comment showed a lack of knowledge. We tabled a bill in the House of Lords. Our measures were costed and could have been covered within the Scottish block grant.
The Liberals' motion on tuition fees is a smokescreen. I suspect that they were put up to it by their Labour masters, who-as Dennis Canavan said this morning-are well experienced in that.
I will take challenges from anyone, but if they, like Mr Smith, are not prepared for activities in this Parliament and cannot work their microphones, that is their tough luck. Other members want to speak. We must recognise that time is limited.
We also heard about reviews yesterday, when Mr McCabe and Mr Dewar attempted to put the issue of prayers on the back burner. That is typical of Labour. We need to examine what Labour has done recently. The Scottish air traffic control centre at Prestwick has been on the back burner for the past two years.
If Donald does not know what I am talking about, I suggest that he gets to grips with these issues, because they are important to Scotland.
Like defence cuts, the A77 upgrade has been put on the back burner in order to waste time and to lay off implementing those aims that Labour has but that it has not declared since it was elected. I suspect that more issues will be put on the back burner following the difficulties that Labour is having at Westminster over social security reform.
Let us not get fixated on tuition fees. What about the Liberals' pledge to end the beef-on-the-bone ban? People spoke about the medical risk, but the chance was 1 billion to one. None of us would even consider such a risk when travelling to this place. What about the abolition of eye-test and dental charges and the Liberals' stand against the private finance initiative? All those ideals seem to have gone down the tubes.
To some extent, I feel sorry for Liberal voters. They put their faith in the Liberal Democrats and they have been let down badly. But never mind the Liberals-what about the size of this team?
All right. Today, we are asked to confirm 22 ministers. Added to that are another five Scottish ministers at Westminster, giving 27 in
The time limit for speeches will be the same as it was this morning-four minutes-but if everybody takes the full four minutes we will not get through the list of those who have requested to speak. If members speak for less than four minutes, everybody will get a chance to speak.
On behalf of the Scottish National party, I support the amendment to leave out Mr Nicol Stephen. Like others, I do so on the basis not of personality, but of policies. Accountability, accessibility and transparency were principles that underpinned the consultative steering group report. The document arose out of and reflected the application of those principles. Many meetings were held, and they were open and accountable. Public views were canvassed, public views were sought and welcomed, and public views were reflected and echoed in the document.
What has happened in the past few days? First, our Parliament, adjourned for nigh on 300 years, has reconvened and been opened to public view. A great deal of public warmth and sympathy has been extended. Secondly, and sadly, a deal has been brokered behind closed doors-behind the back of the electorate and behind the back of Liberal Democrat members and voters. As Mr Canavan said earlier, the electorate spoke on 6 May, in clear public view.
I regret that the electorate in Aberdeen South did not choose my party. That is their democratic right and entitlement. They selected Mr Stephen and supported the policies and platform on which he stood. His victory was acknowledged by my party with all the dignity and decorum that went with the occasion. However, the electorate did not select or vote for the Labour party candidate, so Mr Stephen has no democratic right whatever to sell out his principles or the policies and platform on which he stood and sought election.
As my colleague Mr Hamilton said earlier, this is not a partnership but a takeover-a lock, stock and barrel takeover of the soul of liberal democracy. That is clearly shown in the document "Partnership for Scotland"-otherwise known, as far as I can see, as the unconditional surrender of liberal democracy in Scotland. Never in the recent history of Scottish politics has so much been ceded by so many for so very little.
The document refers to the settled will of the Scottish people. On 11 September 1997 and again on 6 May 1999, the people of Scotland expressed their settled will. That is fine. I believe that their settled will was that tuition fees should be dead in the water. We have found that that promise has been reneged on. It was not, as far as I can tell, election rhetoric. It was not even empty rhetoric. It was, as I remind Mr Wallace, a simple statement of fact that tuition fees would be dead if all those parties that pledged their opposition to them remained firm and true to the pledges that they gave to the electorate and upon which they sought to be returned.
I paraphrase our national bard: Mr Stephen and his party have been bought and sold for ministerial gold-such a parcel of rogues in a party.
I support the First Minister's motion on junior ministers. It is with particular pleasure that I support the two nominees whom I know well as friends and colleagues: Nicol Stephen and Iain Smith. I respect their ability, experience and integrity. I also wish the other nominees for junior minister well.
I take this opportunity to wish the First Minister well. I did not vote for him last week, but there was nothing personal in that. I did not feel that it was right to hold the vote on the First Minister before the composition of his Administration was clear, as it now is. I have a high regard for the First Minister. We go back a long way-back to 1966, when I unsuccessfully tried to prevent him from becoming the member of Parliament for Aberdeen South. I wish him and his Administration every success for the country's sake.
I did not vote for the partnership agreement. That was a very difficult decision for me to take as our negotiators achieved far more than I expected. As a result, there is a lot of good in the agreement. Negotiation is difficult, as the SNP should realise. After all, it has been in coalition in a number of local authorities.
I will not give way yet. [MEMBERS: "Ah."] I will do so shortly. I want to finish my point
To be fair to the Conservatives-I am always fair to them-they turned the offer down. It is interesting that the SNP actually approached the Conservatives, perhaps foreshadowing the strange alliance between the two parties that we see in this Parliament today.
I am now happy to give way to Mr Harper.
Does Mr Raffan agree that, despite what he has said, it is a matter of considerable regret that the Liberal party has abandoned its commitment to ban the further planting of genetically modified crops in Scotland? The Liberals have a commitment in their manifesto that there should be no commercial planting of GM crops. I know that it has not yet started, but the pressures for commercial planting will now be excessive.
I have got the point. I am worried about my four minutes-Mr Harper seems to have taken half of them.
I am against the commercial planting of GM foods, although that is not relevant to the points that I am trying to make at the moment. Furthermore, I do not believe that my party has abandoned its commitment.
There are a lot of good things in the agreement, including the £29 million to increase access to further and higher education for people on low incomes, which we might not have secured without the agreement. We might not have got much of the £600 million to catch up with the school building maintenance backlog, which exists thanks to the Tories. We might not have secured the 500 extra teachers without the agreement or the extra £21 million for books, which the SNP called for during the election campaign. There is a lot that the whole Parliament-not just the Liberal
I am saddened by the tone of this morning's debate, particularly by the personal attacks, which demean this place and those who make them; they make little impact on their victims. Mr McLetchie's remarks were unfortunate. There is a good old phrase used in the House of Commons about members misjudging the mood of the House. I think that Mr McLetchie seriously misjudged the mood of the Parliament today when he went completely over the top in his remarks.
At the beginning of this afternoon's proceedings, Sir David said that, if members used all their time, not all those who wanted to speak would be able to. If people exceed their time, the difficulty becomes even worse.
There has been a lot of talk today of settled wills. There were continuous references to tuition fees this morning, but I thought that the settled will of the Scottish people was this: 71 per cent of them voted against independence. The SNP tried to hide independence at number 10 on its list of pledges, which was interesting.
As to the new politics, are we supposed to take Phil Gallie's word before that of the chief scientific officers? I would err on the side of caution and certainly not take Phil Gallie's word about beef on the bone.
We should be discussing some of the issues
When the two parties sat down and discussed the "Partnership for Scotland" agreement, things were taken from both manifestos. The agreement was brought to the Parliament; people have had a chance to look at it and it has been agreed by the majority of members.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have come together and agreed to create a ministry for enterprise and lifelong learning to deliver a sustainable economy for Scotland. That gives focus to the delivery in Scotland of Labour's pledge to young people-the new deal-and to the 20,000 modern apprenticeships that were promised and will be delivered by the Labour party.
As someone who represents East Kilbride, which is well known for innovation, economic development and employment in a new town, I believe that that ministry has a great role to play. I ask the minister, after he has taken office on 1 July, to visit East Kilbride to see some of the good examples that we have set.
We want to increase the number of business start-ups. The role of one of the ministries is to develop 100,000 new businesses in Scotland in order to increase and stabilise employment. We must ensure a balance of responsibilities between home and working life to enable people to educate themselves-that is part of lifelong learning and also a role for one of the ministries.
Yes, a debate over tuition fees will occur, but not as people have said. This is the Scottish Parliament, not Westminster, where things are put to committee and then disappear. The committee of inquiry will be run in the interests of members and it will report back with recommendations.
Putting tuition fees aside, because we have an agreed position on them, we can perhaps discuss maturely the real business for today. We should agree the appointment of ministers, not endlessly discuss tuition fees. The reality is that 54 per cent of students do not pay tuition fees, 23 per cent pay partial fees and 23 per cent pay the full fees. Members should also remember the 42,000 extra places for students in Scotland-equivalent to the number of students at Edinburgh and Glasgow universities put together. Those are the real issues for today, which I hope the Opposition parties will debate.
I am sure that Mr Kerr would love to put tuition fees to one
What we seem to have in the proposed appointment of Nicol Stephen as the Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning-perhaps that should be lifelong debt for Scotland's students-is an attempt to find some glue to hold the whole thing together. At least, that is the charitable view. The less charitable but I suspect more accurate view is that Nicol Stephen is being stitched up by his so-called new friends on the Labour benches, tied in to supporting a policy that he campaigned against in the election, and when the time comes, to supporting his boss over his own party colleagues. In supporting this amendment I urge to give serious consideration to voting for it because I suspect that in the months and years ahead he will look back and realise that it is in his own political interests to do so.
I took part in a couple of debates with Nicol in Aberdeen during the election campaign. I heard him promise his constituents that he would abolish tuition fees. I believed him. I think his constituents believed him as well. So I urge him today to follow his conscience and not to follow the Labour party in imposing tuition fees on students in Scotland.
It is not the interests of that are important in this Parliament, however; it is the interests of the Scottish people. In the foreword to the CSG report Henry McLeish said that the people in Scotland have high hopes for their Parliament. That is something we are all acutely aware of in the early days of the Parliament. We know that the decision that we take now will shape the Parliament for many years.
That is why we, as members of the first Scottish Parliament, must be guided by the principles that guided the consultative steering group. That group envisaged an open, accessible Parliament in which power would be shared between the Parliament, the Executive and the Scottish people, with an Executive that would be accountable to the Parliament and a Parliament that would be accountable to the Scottish people. However, the first act of the present Executive was to go behind closed doors and cut a secret deal-a deal that seems to have been motivated more by the pursuit of power than by the priorities of the Scottish people.
Many members this morning lamented the fact that we were challenging individual ministers rather than debating real issues. To those members I say that if this Parliament had been
A two-thirds majority of this Parliament was elected on a promise to abolish tuition fees. The fact that Jim Wallace, who before the election declared the abolition of tuition fees to be non-negotiable, is now prepared to barter that majority for a position of power-although if we are to believe Labour sources he has been duped as far as power is concerned-and the fact that Nicol Stephen is lining up behind Mr McLeish as deputy minister for tuition fees, should be unacceptable to this Parliament. I think that it will be unacceptable to the people of Scotland.
If we are to build a Parliament that can fulfil the hopes of the Scottish people, we cannot have in the Executive people who have shown themselves so willing to play fast and loose with the democratically expressed wishes of the Scottish people. That is why I support the amendment.
This afternoon, several people have asked what the real issue of this debate is. The real issue is that a major Scottish political party has reneged clearly and categorically on promises that it made to the electorate. That is a disgraceful and shameful situation. Let us consider what has been cobbled together. The Liberals say that they have achieved 48 of their aims-of course they have. The only reason that they have achieved those aims is that they were in the Labour manifesto as well. Many of those issues were also dealt with by the SNP and the Conservatives-so that is what the Liberal Democrats have got: absolutely nothing. And what have they lost? They have lost political credibility and respect. As I listened to the sanctimonious diatribe from Keith Raffan, it occurred to me that this may indeed be the end of the Scottish Liberal Democrat party. How long will it be before it is totally subsumed by the Labour party?
The one person for whom I feel sorry this afternoon is Iain Smith, whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting. He is going to be the deputy whip to Tom McCabe. Tom McCabe lives in the real world; he is from the west of Scotland. He knows how the Labour party is run. As someone from the west of Scotland myself, I can tell Mr Smith that he is going to learn a very hard lesson. It will be interesting indeed to discover how
The other issue to emerge from today's debate is, as David McLetchie said, the size of the Administration. That will no doubt be costed in due course. It will be interesting when the cost of ministerial salaries is weighed against what that Administration can produce. "Education, education, education" may have been the mantra of 1997, but how much of the Parliament's money that is about to be spent on a bloated and oversized Administration could be used for the benefit of education? How much of it could be used to provide additional school books and additional classroom assistants?
The issue of tuition fees, however, is one that cannot be sidetracked, because its effect on the Scottish people is manifest. The system has caused a dramatic fall in applications, it has affected middle-income families, and is generally unfair. It is a chicken that will, in due course, come very firmly home to roost. Although I do not want to anticipate the result of the inquiries that will be carried out, it will be very interesting indeed to see how our Liberal Democrat friends cope if the result goes the wrong way.
In the spirit of good will that has existed since this Parliament began, I ought to express my best wishes to those who are to attain ministerial office this afternoon. However, in view of the reek of hypocrisy that is coming across from the Liberal Democrat benches, I hope that members will understand if I cannot extend that good will to Mr Stephen and to Mr Smith.
Taing dhuibh airson cothrom a bhi bruidhinn. Tha mi ga chunntais mar urram a bhi an seo an diugh a seasamh airson muinntir Phollok.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I am proud to be here to represent the people of Pollok and, in supporting the nominations for junior ministers, I am proud to speak my first words in this new Parliament in the language of my parents and forebears. [Applause.]
If I may speak about rhetoric, SNP members should remember that, although they claim, as they did last night, that the SNP is Scotland's party, no one has a monopoly on being Scottish. We are all Scotland's parties and our job is to ensure that all Scotland's voices are heard.
I am sure that members who are native Gaelic speakers will have winced at my halting Gaelic. At one time, Gaelic marked people out as being different and, in many cases, Gaels did not use their own language. Now, fortunately, things are different. However, there are still many people in our communities who are marked out as different, who are visible, and who feel under threat. I am proud to be part of a Labour team that seeks to celebrate and embrace difference, but which will challenge the underlying and damaging inequalities than can emerge from those differences.
I am pleased to support the nominations of Frank McAveety and Jackie Baillie, who, with Wendy Alexander, will be responsible for leading the fight for social inclusion and justice. There are many causes of exclusion, whether of the carer looking after a dementia sufferer, the woman victim of male violence, the young black person suffering a racist attack, or the child whose life chances are already significantly determined by the time he or she goes to school. It is fitting that Scotland's first Administration in Scotland's first democratic Parliament should have social inclusion as a central aim.
A crucial area of inequality that must be addressed is the experience of women. I am proud of Labour's record on equal representation. It was done not by proportional representation nor by accident, but as the result of the determination of women in the Labour movement, and outside it, to ensure that, from the beginning, this Parliament would be different.
I welcome the fact that Labour's team for tackling social exclusion contains two strong women, giving practical meaning to all our aspirations for the women of Scotland. Our challenge will be not only to work for the women of Scotland, but to work with them, to bring about real change.
Perhaps people are wondering what the difference might be. I am the first woman ever to represent the people of Pollok-records go back to 1761-and that is a responsibility that I take seriously. I hope that we will now have the opportunity to create a politics that seeks practical outcomes, empowers those who need changes, and ends the world of gesture politics that is, regrettably, so beloved of many people in this chamber, who, soundly beaten in the election, want to use this Parliament to go on performing.
Wendy Alexander and her team seek not gesture but action. We should welcome a strategy for social inclusion that emphasises the crucial and critical role of communities in determining priorities for themselves. We welcome action on housing and action to tackle child poverty.
I have just stopped after twenty years spent working with young people and their families who faced more challenges in their everyday lives than we shall ever know. Our children's voices must be heard and their stories must inform and drive our priorities in power. They can tell us the cost of poverty. They can tell us what happens to their educational opportunities. Given what the Tories have done to create social disaffection during the past 20 years, I for one would have pause for thought to wonder whether my priorities are the same as those of the Tories on the question of tuition fees.
Those young people know the impact of poverty on their health and emotional well-being. We should be outraged at the affront that the statistics of poverty give to our idea of a new Scotland. I commend Labour's team to members, and I urge support for a team and a strategy that must address inequality and that will embrace the power of co-operation. I am supported by the Co-operative party and by the Co-operative movement. We have nothing to fear from co-operation. We must celebrate community and give power to communities in order that the Scottish Parliament can take on the responsibility of tackling the deep-rooted injustice that is faced by too many young Scots.
I got the impression from this morning's debate that some members of the Labour party were questioning the right to challenge the list, and that this debate should somehow be a formality. The demand for Nicol Stephen's removal from the list presented to us today is certainly not made in a mean-spirited manner. In this new democracy we have a duty and a responsibility to challenge anything that calls into question the democratic will of the Scottish people who, quite clearly, are against tuition fees.
This debate is about the content of the "Partnership for Scotland" document. Rather than being for Scotland, it is a partnership for two political parties that are hungry for power. It is a partnership against students and free education and for Labour's privatisation agenda, and which has cost implications that must be challenged in debate. We need more resources for education, but since the Liberal Democrats abandoned the notion of tax-varying powers in their deal, they had better ensure that education spending is not paid for by health and housing cuts and the things that the previous speaker mentioned.
Yesterday, there was a request for proportional
The issue of tuition fees was a touchstone in the Scottish elections because education matters to the people of Scotland. Anyone who has studied the evolution of education in Scotland will know that it is the principle of free education that we uphold. That is why, although the Tories have seen sense on this issue, their attack is blunted. They started the cuts in grants and maintenance that are continued under new Labour. It is important that we remember that free education is not just about tuition fees; it is also about grants and about maintenance. Up to 12 per cent fewer mature students are applying for university places-that is not a very good advert for lifelong learning, Mr Stephen.
This Parliament should be about building trust, so that our young people believe that the democratic process can work for them. Mr Stephen's appointment is an action that would destroy that trust. How can we persuade young people to engage in the political process and to come out and vote when, the Scottish people having given the Parliament a clear mandate to scrap tuition fees, as soon as it sits, it turns its back on them? If we want young people to engage in political and democratic processes, they must be treated with respect.
I warn Jim Wallace not to hide behind the coat tails of the National Union of Students. Its president may not be completely impartial, having campaigned less than a fortnight ago for a minister who was approved today-Sarah Boyack. As a student leader she led me and many others at the University of Glasgow in campaigns against cuts in student grants. The Labour front bench is awash with former student leaders, who should know about student poverty, including Jack McConnell and Susan Deacon. I understand that Susan used to campaign for fair grants and against any loan schemes. It is interesting how times change.
If a week is a long time in politics, we have seen a century and a chasm in thinking from Labour since it became new and high office prevailed.
A final criticism is that the architecture of these appointments is more reflective of selfish party power dealings than the interests of democracy. The Scottish people had hoped for the creative use of Government departments and that joined-up thinking would be reflected in department structures. The split of higher education from the education brief is not to serve innovative Government, it is to serve and accommodate
Yesterday we saw a portent of things to come when Labour tried to bury the prayers debate in a review by a sub-committee. How much more will Labour try to bury away? Labour wants to bury debate and decision making in this Parliament and the Liberal Democrats have given them the shovel.
Johann Lamont hit the nail squarely on the head when she talked about the ministerial team as being Labour's team, not a Labour-Liberal Democrat team. Over the next weeks and months we will hear more and more about Labour's team and Labour's policies, and less and less about the Liberal Democrats in that partnership.
The saddest comment this morning came from Lord Watson, who told this chamber that the issue of tuition fees has now assumed a ridiculous level of importance. I have no doubt that those insensitive remarks will reverberate around the campuses of Scotland. This chamber must oppose any policy that prohibits the participation of individuals in higher education for purely financial reasons. Among the implications of such a policy that we have already seen are that applications to institutions of higher education are down 6 per cent this year, while one fifth of Scottish students now go without a meal every day because of financial hardship. Students forced to pay tuition fees without grants often have to take two or three part-time jobs, thereby displacing the less academically qualified from the job market and entrenching social exclusion.
As we know, the Liberal Democrats are committed to abolishing tuition fees; unfortunately, not this millennium. I oppose the appointment of Mr Smith to the ministerial team. His constituency includes the University of St Andrews. I am sure that students of that worthy institution and others would like to know the answer to the following question: if the committee of inquiry opposes abolition, as we expect it will do, will Mr Smith, as deputy whip, act as enforcer and compel Liberal Democrat members to vote against their consciences, their manifestos, their activists and electors, in order to ensure the retention of tuition fees? I am willing to stand aside for Mr Smith to give a yes or no answer to that question.
I had a fixed speech with which to address this chamber. However, as a new member of this parliament-as we all are-I find it difficult that we are repeating a debate on all the issues with which we dealt this morning, on which there was a vote and on which the SNP and the Conservatives were roundly defeated. What we are going through is a complete waste of time. I do not deny the right of members to speak on the matter, but if this chamber is going to constantly reiterate the same arguments, we will be faced with a situation similar to that of the Houses of Parliament, where the seats are empty. I for one am not going to sit here and listen to repeated arguments the whole time.
No, I will not give way. I welcome this morning's appointment of Susan Deacon as the first ever woman health minister in Scotland, and now speak to the nomination of Iain Gray, who has specific responsibility for community care. Health is an important issue, and the appointment of this team should be welcomed by the whole chamber.
As a doctor, I welcome the commitment to a patient-centred health service contained within "Partnership for Scotland". There has been a protracted period of structural change in the national health service in Scotland. Although those changes are designed specifically and uniquely to meet the needs of the Scottish community, in partnership with all health workers we must turn our attention to making those improved structures work for the people who matter most: patients.
Our patient-centred health programme will include one-stop clinics to provide same-day tests and diagnosis, and a new NHS helpline, NHS Direct, which will ensure that health advice is immediately available around the clock, every day of the year, to everyone in Scotland.
The programme will also include the use of the best technology to link every doctor's surgery in Scotland to the NHS, thus providing an immediate connection among surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals. Under the previous leadership of Sam
We will establish walk-in walk-out centres that will offer same-day treatment by specialist staff.
No. Our patients need a seamless care service and everything that the new department does will be focused on patients. The partnership's renewed and binding commitment to patient-centred care will allow the Government to commit to the biggest ever hospital building programme in Scotland's history. It is a commitment not only to shorten waiting lists but to speed up treatment and shorten waiting times, to increase the number of doctors and to increase NHS spending in real terms over the coming years.
I am particularly pleased that "Partnership for Scotland" commits the Government to seek the guidance of the parliamentary health committee. The real debates, as opposed to today's sterile debate, will take place in the committees. We need to debate the complex issue of tuition fees, but the soundbite approach that has been adopted by certain members today is utterly appalling.
It gives me great pleasure to speak to the nomination of Iain Gray. The Parliament should support his nomination.
Labour members' rhetoric about social inclusion would sound a lot less hollow if their colleagues in the House of Commons were not planning, simultaneously, to impose a savage cut in incapacity benefit.
I will address most of my remarks to the Scottish Liberal party. I remember when that party had a proud tradition; I remember the legacy of people such as John Bannerman and Jo Grimond. It was a radical party and a party of principle. With this new partnership agreement, we are witnessing the strange death of the Liberal tradition in Scotland. I
What did the Liberal Democrats get, apart from their ministerial positions? They got a committee of inquiry, but we do not know whether it will have the power, the remit or the composition to deal effectively with tuition fees. Who will nominate the committee members-the eight Labour members of the Scottish Cabinet or the two Liberal members? If the eight Labour members nominate Labour cronies who they know will come up with the answer they are looking for, will the two Liberal members have the right of veto over the nominations?
What will the committee's remit be? Will it look at the issue of student poverty? [MEMBERS: "Yes."] Will it be able to address the reintroduction of student grants and the issue of student loans? [MEMBERS: "Yes."] Will it meet, and take evidence, in public? [MEMBERS: "Yes."] If the committee recommends the abolition of tuition fees, do we have a commitment from the benches opposite that the recommendation will be accepted?
Amid the tremendously new-politics behaviour of Labour members, did Mr Neil notice that, when he asked whether Labour members could give a cast-iron guarantee to support the abolition of tuition fees if the report recommended it, there was silence?
I did notice the silence, but I thank Mr Swinney for the intervention.
The actions of the Liberal Democrats reminds me that Winston Churchill used to say-it is not often that a nationalist quotes Winston Churchill-that the Liberals sat on the fence so much that they could be called mugwumps; they sat on the fence with their mugs on one side and their wumps on the other.
Last week the wumps wanted the abolition of tuition fees; this week the mugs have sold out on that issue. Last week they were going to demand radical changes in the private finance initiative; this week they have sold out on the private finance initiative. Last week they were going to start to use the tax-raising power for investment in education; this week they have ruled that out for four years.
I would have liked to put this question to the First Minister, but he is not now here, so perhaps one of his colleagues can answer: has anybody done any costing on this exercise? Has anybody considered the cost of the additional member and all the trappings that go with ministerial positions? If so, could they put a price on it?
I would hazard a guess that the cost would be about the same as the take from 1p on income tax, but I stand to be corrected on that. [Laughter.] Before Dr Simpson laughs, he, or a Labour minister, should come up with the figures. Dr Simpson suggested that members were wrong to question the honesty of other members. This debate is all about honesty. It is about pledges that were given to the electorate. If Dr Simpson thinks that it is right to tell the electorate one thing but do another he is in the wrong place.
I would like to pick out one or two members, such as Bill Aitken, who did make useful comments. Bill, who has long experience in the west of Scotland, made a very useful contribution. He pointed out that the Liberals had, once again, got nothing for their manifesto commitments.
Keith Raffan asked whether the Tories will support the partnership. Our line is as we stated before the election: we will support policies in the partnership document that will benefit Scotland, but we will stand against any bad policies.
It is fair to say that this debate has generated more heat than light. It has also revealed a strange tendency among SNP and Conservative members to believe everything they read in the press. They do not allow for the fact that most articles are written without letting truth interfere with a good story.
There have also been few examples of willingness to listen or understand. Mr Gallie got
My leader, James Wallace, made it clear this morning that we have not changed our position on tuition fees. That will be perfectly clear to anyone who reads the partnership document.
It is a pity that Mr Neil has not read the document, which makes clear that the terms of reference, the time scale and the membership of the committee of inquiry should be submitted for the approval of Parliament.
Can Ross Finnie tell me why three of his party's members voted against the document because of the policy on tuition fees? I walked past Mr Raffan as he was addressing a camera in a somewhat animated manner; he was saying that he would not vote for the document for that reason. Do those members misunderstand the policy?
I regret to say that Andrew Wilson is wrong. Those three members did not all vote against the document because of tuition fees. There were other matters on which they expressed- [Interruption.] The point, as Mr Raffan made clear, is that they now accept the opinion of the majority of members and they retain-
No, I have very little time left and I want to make two points.
I would not have recommended the agreement to my colleagues if it had involved a matter of principle. I want to make that absolutely clear. Anyone who reads the document will understand that there is substantial give and take on both sides. Labour did not get a majority and neither did the Liberal Democrats; that is why the document reflects substantial changes in both form and substance to the parties' positions.
On the appointments of junior ministers, let us be clear that what is being formed is a Government, not an extension of a department of the Scottish Office. The numbers that were suggested by Mr McLetchie are absurd and would have made it almost impossible for ministers to attend committees. The committees will be powerful and ministers will have to attend them to ensure proper scrutiny.
The ministers form the basis of a perfectly stable Government and I commend the document to the chamber.
Division number 4
For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harding, Mr Keith, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnston, Mr Nick, Johnstone, Alex, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McGugan, Irene, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeod, Fiona, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Salmond, Mr Alex, Scanlon, Mary, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Tosh, Mr Murray, Ullrich, Kay, Wallace, Ben, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Dewar, Donald, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Ms Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Galbraith, Mr Sam, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Mackay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McLeish, Henry, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, Mr John, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Ms Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Ian, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Harper, Robin
A motion in the name of the First Minister has been moved:
That this Parliament agrees that
be appointed as junior Scottish Ministers.
The question is, that the motion be agreed to. Are we all agreed?
Division number 5
For: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Dewar, Donald, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Ms Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Galbraith, Mr Sam, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Mackay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McLeish, Henry, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, Mr John, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Ms Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Ian, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harding, Mr Keith, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnston, Mr Nick, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeod, Fiona, Mundell, David, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Salmond, Mr Alex, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Tosh, Mr Murray, Ullrich, Kay, Wallace, Ben, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Abstentions: Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Harper, Robin, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian
In accordance with section 49 of the Scotland Act 1998, the First Minister may, with the approval of Her Majesty, appoint junior Scottish ministers. Before doing so, he must have the agreement of Parliament. The Parliament has agreed with the First Minister's recommendations to appoint the following members as junior Scottish ministers: Angus Mackay, Peter Peacock, Rhona Brankin, Nicol Stephen, Alasdair Morrison, Iain Gray, Iain
I apologise, Mr McAveety.
On a point of order. Now that the ministerial team has been appointed, it would be churlish of us not to congratulate the ministers on their appointments and hope for the best in the future. I want to draw to the attention of the minister who has responsibility for fisheries, the welcome presence of-
No, I am sorry. I have already made it clear that I will be very severe on bogus points of order. That is not a point of order for the chair, nor is it in order to refer to other people who may be attending the meeting in the galleries.
Now that the Government team, including Mr Macavity, is in place, can I
You can put the point to the Business Manager in the next item of business. We will discuss that matter in a moment, once we have finished dealing with the election to the corporate body. The business motion is before us and your point will be very relevant then.