Ministers

– in the Scottish Parliament at 10:04 am on 19th May 1999.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour 10:04 am, 19th May 1999

I hope that we do, in fact, have rational debate this morning and on all occasions. This is a motion of some interest. It is a motion to approve or give support to a ministerial list which, if that support is forthcoming, will be submitted to Her Majesty the Queen. That is a significant innovation to our constitutional practice and I welcome it. It is an opportunity to commend a team that will work hard for Scotland and deliver what Scots want.

On the whole-I am perhaps trying my luck in saying this-the ministerial list has been reasonably well received, although there has been the odd mixed notice. That is inevitable, and I would describe it as Opposition parties on automatic pilot, or, old habits die hard.

Mike Russell was quoted as describing me and my colleagues as "party hacks and apparatchiks". That is certainly a subject in which he is expert. He has practised the art with great distinction for a number of years, but I suggest to him that he is wrong on this occasion.

The ministerial list has also been condemned as a central belt clique, I think by David McLetchie or by some of his apparatchiks and party hacks. I suggest that if that is his best argument, he is getting very short of ammunition very early in the campaign. He may be interested that there is an east-west balance-which I believe is good-in the Administration as a whole. He will note that around 25 per cent of the ministerial team are women, and that a third of the team come from outwith the central belt. I am glad about the fact that there is a minister from every one of the eight list regions on which the electoral system was based. There is a genuine spread.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Is it not the case that the First Minister could hardly miss with respect to selecting members from every region, given that one in six MSPs will become a Government minister?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

Phil Gallie is a great expert in missing. His point gives me a terrible and horrible feeling of déjà vu-I suppose that I will overcome that in time. As far as I am concerned, the figures speak for themselves. It is a fair and good spread. The people in my team were picked on merit-I ought to make that very clear. It is not a pedantic matter of geographical balance, but the outcome is a happy one.

In this afternoon's debate, we will no doubt return to the size of the junior ministerial team. We have been accused of extravagance and of the constitutional equivalent of loose living. It is the first time in a long time that I have been accused of loose living and I am quite flattered. I have to disown the compliment.

I also like the fact that The Scotsman yesterday accused us of having put in place a series of faction captains. I do not know who I would put in that category. Rather quaintly, it went on to say that too much attention had been paid to the "dishonourable tradition of rewarding loyalty".

That is an interesting insight into how the editor of The Scotsman picks his team. I can think of a few people in that team whose presence is explained by that, but I should not pursue that line too far, or I will make enemies where, of course, I have friends.

The outstanding feature of the Administration is that it is a partnership Administration and a coalition Administration. That fact has produced heavy attacks from some predictable quarters. The huddle of amendments that we are discussing today is the end product of those attacks.

There has been an attack on the basis of the coalition and on the circumstances of the case, but-perhaps more surprisingly and more fundamentally-there has been root-and-branch opposition to the principle of coalition.

Inevitably, I have to take the arguments in a short space of time. I will deal with the basis of the coalition and with the circumstances of the case. A great deal of the fire has been directed at the question of tuition fees. The issue is surrounded by controversy, and I concede that there is considerable opposition to the current policy. My colleagues in the Liberal Democrat party have made it very clear that they stand where they did, but we have all agreed that there ought to be a proper inquiry before there is action, and that there ought to be a proper investigation of all aspects of higher and further education funding in Scotland. That seems to be a matter almost of common sense. It is known by the Parliament that we have had a massive range of representations from higher education, saying that we should not snatch at the matter and that we should not just rush to abolish tuition fees, but that we should try to get right something that is a very complicated issue.

That view has been put to us by the Association of University Teachers (Scotland), by the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals and by the National Union of Students. I ought to say that the NUS has made it clear that it wants the abolition of tuition fees, but it still argues that there should be a full inquiry first so that we get it right.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I will finish this passage before I give way.

All those organisations argue that case because they fear that if we snatch at the decision, if we rush to judgment, we may attack the wrong target and end up with the wrong result. We must define our objectives. John Swinney-to whom I will give way in a minute-will surely agree that we must consider access, the number of places and the most effective way of broadening the student base of higher education and that we must deal with the future financial consequences of any changes that we introduce. Given that, it is perfectly honourable, good practice and good sense for the Parliament to say that we will consider these things properly and that we will get impartial advice before we take that decision. I will be interested to hear the attack that I presume is about to come because I would have thought that a cautious man such as Mr Swinney would take the view that that was proper preparation for decision making.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

It has certainly taken a long time to get to the end of that passage-it seemed to be the longest on earth. I accept the points the First Minister is making in relation to the commentary by the AUT and the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals and other organisations, but there was one important group of people that he missed out of his explanation of the body of opinion, and that is the electorate. By voting for the Conservative party, the Scottish National party, the Liberal Democrats and the three independent members, the electorate said quite clearly that it did not want tuition fees. Where is the electorate in this cosy coalition between the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I think that the electorate takes the view that good decision making should be the mark of a mature Parliament. I am interested to hear that it was a single-issue election. Most of the nationalists I talked to made claims about certain other issues being the determining factor, and said that those issues were what took people into the SNP and that lobby, if I can put it that way, and made them put crosses against SNP candidates.

Information is constantly shifting on tuition fees. I had some figures just the other day that may be of interest-I use them only as a symbol of the need for full information. The assessments by the Students Awards Agency for Scotland this year show that 54 per cent of students will pay no tuition fees, 23 per cent will be on the taper and 23 per cent will pay full fees. That is a very significant shift on the figures that I was using only a few months ago. I very, very clearly take the position that we want to get this right. This Parliament is supposed to be about talking-certainly-but also about listening and about learning. There has been a great deal of talk about proper scrutiny before we reach decisions and, if we take that seriously, it seems to me fair that we should start now as we intend to continue.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I am genuinely conscious of the time. One of the problems-

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

All right, I will let him in-very quickly.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

Does the First Minister acknowledge that the majority of the Scottish electorate voted against tuition fees? Do Liberal members of the Parliament, as far as he is aware, have a free vote after the commission of inquiry has reported?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I recognise that a majority of votes were cast for parties that had that as one issue in their manifesto. That is very different from saying that it was a one-issue election or that such a simple connection can be made. I know that Mr Salmond is good at making oversimple connections, but I think that that is a dangerous one for him to make. What we must do is see the outcome of the inquiry, assuming the Parliament agrees to set it up, and make proper judgments on that basis.

The second point I want to address about the coalition is whether coalition is in itself in some way inherently unfair and wicked-

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I have just said that we will have to wait and see the results. We will then try to reach-Mr Salmond laughs, but it would be the height of ridiculousness even in his strange political world to appoint a committee of inquiry and then say that we will pay no attention to what it says. That would be a total illogicality.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I am not going to let Mr Salmond in again. What we intend is that the Executive will consider the results of the inquiry, as will everyone else. My intention, my expectation and my hope is that a collective decision will emerge from doing that, but we will all have to wait and see. Let me move on.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I have just answered. We expect to reach a collective decision and we will move forward from that point.

The other point is that there is an attack on coalitions as such. I find that very odd, because the Scottish National party has a record of coalitions, as every member will know. One such coalition existed between 1994 and 1996 in an important unit of government, the Grampian Region. The SNP was in coalition-I almost hesitate to mention-with the Liberal Democrats, heaven forfend. I presume that that coalition was established because the SNP wanted an administration that could deliver a policy that would give a sense of direction and which would work in a constructive and proper way. At the time, those were very good reasons for entering into that coalition, and those same arguments apply now. I hope that people will accept and understand that.

I am always surprised by the attitudes of the SNP. Sometimes I am astonished by them, Sir David, but let us leave that for another occasion. I remind SNP members that they have advocated proportional representation for as many years as I can remember, yet they are totally unwilling to live with the consequences of the policy that they advocated. That was pointed out to them, repeatedly and tirelessly, by the press and others during the election campaign. It is absolutely right that we should try to give a sense of purpose to this Parliament and to working in partnership.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Is it not the case that policies should be based on principles other than the speaker's-

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I am not giving way. I trust that people will not rise in their place and shout at members-not even nationalists.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

If a member wants to make an intervention, he must rise in his place and call on the minister to give way. He must not then continue to speak unless the minister has given way.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I apologise to Mr Gibson, but I am conscious of the time. I am not going to give way to him, because I must sit down in two or three minutes if I am to hold to my side of the bargain with those who are trying to take part in this debate.

I finish by stating that this is a partnership coalition, and that we want to make that partnership work. We are determined to make it work, and to give it every chance, because we genuinely believe that it is right for the country and not simply for sectional interests. I agree that those who are not in the coalition may be disappointed by the fact that they are not included. [Laughter.] The derisive laugher of SNP members suggests that we have been very wise in the arrangements that we have made. It points also to the fact that, if we cannot command a reasonable working arrangement in this chamber, the Parliament will get into great difficulties in deciding anything and will end up in some degree of confusion and chaos. The interesting-and, I suspect, instinctive-response to my remark underlines that point.

Our aim is a partnership that is determined to raise educational standards, to give patient-centred health care, to create employment opportunities in Scotland, and to look to the social justice agenda. We aim to redress the balance, by placing the emphasis on helping those in almost all of our communities whose prospects are damaged by cruel circumstances over which they have no control. I would like to think that members from all parts of the chamber would be prepared to help with that agenda. I also believe that the Administration must be committed to it, and that that Administration is the one that I commend to the chamber now. It is a ministerial team that is ready for action, that is committed to delivery, and which has considerable talent and energy. I very much hope that it will get what it needs: the support of those who sit in our Parliament.

I am honoured and delighted to move the motion. I move,

That this Parliament agrees that

James Wallace,

Sam Galbraith,

Henry McLeish,

Jack McConnell,

Susan Deacon,

Tom McCabe,

Ross Finnie,

Wendy Alexander,

Sarah Boyack

be appointed as Ministers.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

It might help members if I make it clear that the time limits that I am suggesting for speeches will not mean, as in the House of Commons, cutting people off mid-sentence at the end of the allotted time. I will be flexible, and will take account of interventions that a member has taken during a speech. Flexibility is limited, but it is there.

I would like members formally to move amendment S1M-4.1 in Mr McLetchie's name, and amendment S1M-4.3 in Mr Swinney's name, so that we can have a wide debate.

Amendments moved: S1M-4.1, to leave out "James Wallace" and "Ross Finnie".- [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

S1M-4.3, to leave out "Henry McLeish".- [Michael Russell.]

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

Both amendments are open to debate. I shall call Mr McLetchie first, with a time limit of six minutes, followed by Mr Swinney, with a time limit of six minutes. I shall then open the debate with time limits of four minutes for each member. At the end, I shall invite someone who supported each of the amendments to respond for two minutes. The debate will be wound up by Mr Jim Wallace, speaking in favour of the motion, with a limit of six minutes.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative 10:20 am, 19th May 1999

The Scottish Conservatives oppose the appointment of Mr Jim Wallace and Mr Ross Finnie as Scottish ministers because they are here under false pretences.

They were elected on a manifesto that committed them to abolish tuition fees, end charges for eye and dental checks, lift the beef-on-the-bone ban, scrap tolls on the Skye bridge and stop the use of the private finance initiative in funding public projects.

None of those commitments appears in the coalition agreement, which is surprising when one considers that Mr Wallace has said of himself:

"In negotiating with anyone, I have a pretty strong resolve to get what I want."

Oh, really? Well, he could have fooled me. As we all know, promises made by Mr Wallace are just election rhetoric. It is a great pity that he did not tell that to the electorate, or to some of his hoodwinked back benchers, before 6 May.

Some Liberal Democrat back benchers seem to think that if one puts a policy before the electorate in one's party manifesto, and claims on national television two days before voting that it is non-negotiable, one should not ditch that policy after the election for the sake of a vestige of power. Those back benchers are right. They are the honourable members in the Liberal Democrat party. It is a pity that they belong to a dishonourable party.

The Liberal Democrats have been exposed for what they are: totally unprincipled and happy to whelp as Labour's lapdogs. Jim Wallace may have claimed during the election campaign that he would not trade principles for a ministerial Mondeo, but an Omega and a deputy's badge have obviously done the trick.

The Liberal Democrats seem to think that they will get a free vote on tuition fees after the independent commission has reported. The fact of the matter is, as we all know, that they will be bound and whipped by the final decision of the Cabinet, which has a majority of Labour members who are wholly opposed to abolition.

The Liberal Democrats have been taken for a ride by Labour. Either one accepts the principle of free higher education for students and young people or one does not. There is no need for an independent commission to adjudicate on that, so it is a pointless exercise.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour

I am interested in the absolutism of Mr McLetchie's argument, the implication of which seems to be that he is in favour of free higher education. Why then did the Conservatives introduce loans, and why does he not advocate their abolition?

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

There is a distinction between tuition fees and maintenance for students while they are studying. There is free school education-nursery, primary and secondary-but nobody is suggesting that the Government should pay maintenance awards to parents for looking after their children.

It is not as though this Government could not afford to lose a couple of ministers. Losing Jim Wallace and Ross Finnie would help to shrink a top-heavy Administration.

Let us consider the numbers. There is the new Secretary of State for Scotland-and it would be churlish not to congratulate Dr Reid on his appointment to that distinguished office-and his two junior ministers. There is the new post of Advocate General, and we congratulate Lynda Clark on her appointment to that post. Then there is the First Minister and his team. Altogether, some 24 ministers are carrying out the work that, before the general election, was done by just five ministers. There are now nearly five times as many ministers as there were.

Frankly, that is an outrage. It is an explosion of bureaucracy and red tape, all of which must be paid for by the taxpayer. Does anybody seriously think that the money to pay for all those ministers and their entourage of special advisers, spin doctors, secretaries, chauffeurs and so on, could not have been better spent on the education of our young people? Some of that money could have been put towards funding the abolition of tuition fees for higher education.

I propose that we strike a blow for smaller, smarter government in Scotland by putting this bloated Administration on a diet. That means cutting out Jim Wallace and Ross Finnie. They are too rich, indigestible and unpalatable. They deserve no less, for they are guilty of perpetrating a massive fraud on the people of Scotland at the election. Their masters will no doubt save them today, but the people will judge them later.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party 10:25 am, 19th May 1999

Yesterday, I raised a point with you, Sir David, about the "Partnership for Scotland" document that has been put before Parliament by the coalition Administration. That is where I want to start, because it is at the root of the discussion that we are having today.

The Parliament has got off to a very good start.

It began its business with the dignified elections of the Presiding Officer and the First Minister, and the meetings were convened in a dignified way. However, I do not think that the Executive can be said to have got off to a particularly good start. It is important to remember the contents of "Partnership for Scotland: An Agreement for the First Scottish Parliament", which state what this Administration will put to the Parliament. The document covers a number of areas where the hopes that we had for this Parliament to be the start of a new politics in Scotland have been thwarted by the actions of the coalition Administration.

Mr McLeish is a key minister in that Administration and is responsible for one of the most sensitive policy areas. His foreword to the consultative steering group report on the Scottish Parliament raised a great deal of hope in Scotland. He wrote:

"In all our deliberations we have been struck by the degree of consensus that exists. In particular, that the establishment of the Scottish Parliament offers the opportunity to put in place a new sort of democracy in Scotland, closer to the Scottish people and more in tune with Scottish needs. People in Scotland have high hopes for their Parliament, and in developing our proposals we have been keen to ensure that these hopes will be met. In particular, our recommendations envisage an open, accessible Parliament; a Parliament where power is shared with the people".

Where, in this "Partnership for Scotland" agreement, are the people who voted decisively for the abolition of tuition fees in the election on 6 May? They have been forgotten in the negotiations for the coalition Administration.

We have before us a proposal on tuition fees that nobody had heard about and that nobody was offered on 6 May. It has been cobbled together so that this Administration could be formed and it excludes the clear and express opinion of people in Scotland that tuition fees should be abolished. The overwhelming majority of the members of this Parliament were elected to deliver on that opinion.

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

Mr Swinney says that the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly for the abolition of tuition fees and that that was what they were voting for when they voted for the SNP. Will he now accept that, in voting for the SNP, people were voting only for the abolition of tuition fees and not for independence?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I think that the SNP's performance and achievement is clear from the outcome of the election. This Parliament, which remains within the United Kingdom constitution, is an acknowledgement of the support given to the political parties. Equally, this Parliament was elected to deliver to the people of Scotland the abolition of tuition fees, but the actions of some members since 6 May have not contributed to the delivery of that policy commitment. That is the key point that emerges from this debate.

Mr McLeish is to be supported in his work by Nicol Stephen, who is the Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. Over the past 24 hours, a number of remarks have been made that show the difficulties that this coalition Administration will have to overcome if they are to deliver on the partnership document, irrespective of whether that document reflects any of the aspirations of the people of Scotland.

The coalition agreement has failed to recognise what the Liberal Democrat manifesto said about beef on the bone. It has failed to deliver any real change to the privatisation of public services and it has failed to abolish tolls on the Skye bridge. The coalition Administration has cast aside all those things.

We must focus the debate on tuition fees-that is the fundamental point about the way in which this coalition has been constructed. On Sunday, Mr Ross Finnie said that we would be able to vote freely according to our views on the report. The next day, it was reported that Mr McLeish had said that, from the point at which the report was presented, "collective cabinet responsibility holds and we would anticipate that both parliamentary groups would support the set of recommendations that we would put to the parliament."

Unless I am mistaken, there is a contradiction between those two arguments. My colleague Mr Salmond asked the First Minister whether there would be a free vote when the report was produced. I do not want to be uncharitable to the First Minister-I am never uncharitable to him-but it was quite clear from his answer that he had dodged Mr Salmond's question. There is no free vote. Mr McLeish makes the position absolutely clear: when the independent commission reports on tuition fees, the Executive will come to a conclusion about that report and the two coalition partners will adhere to that conclusion.

Somewhere along the line there is a fundamental division of opinion at the heart of the coalition agreement. Will Liberal Democrat members be able to apply independent discretion when the report is produced? It sounds as though they will not.

On Radio Scotland this morning, we heard that, in the foreword to the partnership document, the First Minister and Mr Wallace had talked about the ability to deliver stable government. At the heart of this coalition agreement is an issue on which the Scottish election turned and a fundamental disagreement about the rights of the coalition partners in the Administration.

The Administration is not stable. It cannot deliver what the Scottish people voted for on 6 May. On 17 May, The Scotsman reported that Mr McLeish had said:

"At this stage there are no cracks in the coalition."

Today's debate might turn on this question: when is a crack not a crack? A crack is not a crack when it is a yawning chasm between the positions of the two ministers who are to be appointed.

We need to know today what this coalition Administration will actually deliver in relation to tuition fees, because clarity on that issue was sadly lacking in what was said over the weekend. The "Partnership for Scotland" document leads the Scottish people to a conclusion for which they did not vote on 6 May. The appointment of Mr McLeish should not be approved.

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat 10:33 am, 19th May 1999

During the election campaign, we heard much about the new style of politics that would pervade our new Parliament. We heard mention of greater consensus or even compromise-that dirty word of politics. We heard that there would be more consultation with the people before decisions were taken. Above all, the pledge that was given to the people of Scotland was that this Parliament would be different from Westminster.

The perception so far may be that this Parliament is no different from Westminster, but the reality is that it is quite different. We have proportional representation, which delivered 129 of us into this chamber. PR has made a difference. It has meant that, instead of another humiliating defeat for our friends in Mr McLetchie's party, that party has 18 MSPs. The reality of PR means that, instead of seven first-past-the-post members for Mr Salmond's party, the SNP has the moderate success of some 35 members.

The biggest difference has been that PR has meant that, unlike Westminster, there is no winner takes all-no party was given a mandate to deliver the whole of its manifesto. That means that every party in this chamber is a minority. To deliver stable government for Scotland, compromises had to be made between two parties. I am not ashamed of the word compromise; it means that two parties have come together to deliver the partnership document for the Scottish people.

We have heard much about the important issue of tuition fees. Liberal Democrats believe that the right way in which to proceed is for us to go out to consultation and for the committee of inquiry to take the views of everyone involved. All the lobbying that I have had on the issue shows that that is what most of the major institutions involved want. When the time comes and the inquiry reports, our position-that tuition fees should be abandoned-will have been made clear.

Photo of Duncan Hamilton Duncan Hamilton Scottish National Party

Did not Mr Lyon give an unalterable commitment-during the campaign in Argyll and Bute, which he and I shared so comfortably-to the abolition of tuition fees? That commitment now seems to be on the back burner, with the result that we must wait and see what happens. If he gave such a commitment, would not his election to that constituency be a mandate to stay true to his principles rather than to sell out in this way?

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

There is no sell-out. During the campaign, I stated that we were opposed to tuition fees; we will testify to the inquiry on that basis. I take it that the SNP and the Tory party will do the same. We hope that the inquiry will return a verdict that will support our position. I will listen to that verdict before we vote on the subject. That is what is stated in the partnership document and we agree with it.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

Once he has done all that, and once he has considered the matter, will he have a free vote on the outcome of the inquiry?

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

As I stated clearly, I will make up my mind and take into consideration what is said in the inquiry before we vote on the subject. Our position is very clear; we are still opposed to tuition fees and we will be able to make up our own minds when the day comes. [Interruption.]

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

Order. Mr Lyon, as you are near the end of your four minutes, please come to a conclusion.

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

To sum up, the "Partnership for Scotland" document delivers. It delivers £51 million extra on education and £29 million extra to help the poorest students. It delivers by creating a new Minister for Rural Affairs, who will deliver for rural Scotland. It delivers for much of the agricultural community by setting up an independent arbitration system to ensure that farmers are treated fairly in EU decisions. It delivers by setting up a new body to promote Scottish food; we supported that very clearly. It delivers on beef on the bone- [Laughter.] The commitment is in black and white; what Government would override scientific advice? Science has to be taken into account; if science says no, we have to wait, but the commitment on beef on the bone exists.

I support the partnership document. I believe that it will give Scotland a stable Government and that the situation with tuition fees will be resolved through the committee of inquiry. It is only right that we consult all interested parties on the subject.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party 10:39 am, 19th May 1999

I object specifically to the inclusion of Jim Wallace's name in the list of ministers as Minister for Justice, but I cannot help but comment on the farrago of nonsense that we have just heard from one of the Liberal Democrat members. Mr Lyon showed in his speech that the Liberal Democrat manifesto contained virtually nothing that we can take as a promise.

Being the first Minister for Justice in our nation is a hugely responsible task. I must ask whether Jim Wallace has shown any real responsibility in recent weeks. I, too, have read the consultative steering group report; it makes somewhat nostalgic reading already. Jim Wallace was an assiduous member of that group. Its report talked in terms of open, accessible and participative government, yet he has connived at creating a situation where this debate is the only forum in which we can raise issues about the so-called partnership agreement between the Liberal Democrats and new Labour-so much for the new politics.

Members have, in effect, been presented with a fait accompli. On a number of matters-tuition fees is perhaps the most contentious, but it is not the only one, as we have heard-the majority in Parliament will be overridden or side-stepped. That is not democracy and it is not what the people expected. It is neither open nor just. We are in danger of engendering disappointment and alienation among voters.

We are being asked to approve someone who claimed that a key manifesto promise was nothing more than election rhetoric. I wonder just what the word promise means in these circumstances. Perhaps Jim Wallace will take the opportunity later today to outline how much of the Liberal Democrat manifesto was nothing more than election rhetoric.

Many Liberal Democrat members-including some who are in the chamber today-and a vast number of their voters must be considering the nature of trust. Liberal Democrats made promises that were not going to be kept. Mr Wallace has shown that he and his party are not to be trusted. Either he conducted the campaign in bad faith or he is now open to the accusation that he is a naive dupe. Either way, it does not look good on his CV.

Jim Wallace claims to be a Liberal Democrat. I see little liberalism or democracy in his behaviour, and precious little justice, so I support the amendment to have his name struck from the list of ministers.

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour 10:43 am, 19th May 1999

Three criticisms have been made of the selection of ministers. They concern the number of ministers, their quality and matters relating to the coalition.

Mr McLetchie objected to the number of ministers. He would admit that the way in which for 100 years the Scottish Office has been run by five ministers has hardly been a model of good government. I have a limited personal experience of that; I assure members that covering the number of portfolios that Scottish Office ministers used to cover in the bad old days is not a recipe for good government. I commend the First Minister for addressing that problem and ensuring that government in Scotland can be conducted much more efficiently than it has been in the past.

The problem of quality on the Government benches has been the embarrassment of riches among the new members. I have found this Parliament a more competitive environment than Westminster when it comes to appointments, but that is a good sign. It indicates the very high quality of Labour members, who are the only ones for whom I will speak.

Another noted achievement, which should be celebrated today and on many other days, is that 50 per cent of our members are women. As far as I know, we are the only substantial group in any parliament in the world of which that is so. We should continually receive praise from the people of Scotland for that achievement, which I hope all the other parties will emulate.

That achievement has resulted in the appointment to the Cabinet of three remarkable women. As two of them are my neighbouring MSPs, members will forgive me for mentioning them. Sarah Boyack was born to be Minister for Transport and the Environment. Combining those two portfolios for the first time represents an imaginative realignment in the Scottish Office.

Susan Deacon has a key appointment as Minister for Health and Community Care. Since the Government was elected in 1997, it has taken a broad view of health policy, which will lead to an attack on health inequality in particular. Susan is clearly the ideal person to drive health policy forward.

Lest I forget, the third woman is Wendy Alexander, who worked with me on the matters that she covers in the Scottish Office. I can vouch for her great expertise in those areas.

I perhaps gave those three women the political kiss of death when I said in the Edinburgh Evening News that one of them would be the next First Minister, but no doubt we will see in time.

The third criticism of the selection of ministers relates to the coalition. What we are trying to achieve in this Parliament is a different way of doing things-those of us who have come from Westminster will be aware of that. We should ask ourselves at all times whether we are doing things differently.

The fact that parties will have different relationships to one another is a key plank of the new politics. Given that we had a voting system that was unlikely to deliver an overall majority, I fail to see how anyone can complain about the fact that two parties are working together in a new way.

That does not mean that the Labour party will not work differently with other parties as well. I hope that Labour will have a new working relationship with the Tories and with the SNP, although, because of past enmities, that will be difficult to achieve. There will always be a fundamental divide between Labour and the SNP on the constitutional question, but I hope that, in substantive policy areas such as health and housing, we can work in a way that is unlike the Westminster style.

Parties working differently together is not the only point of the new politics. I have two other points to make.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

Would you draw your comments to a close? You have had your time.

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

I am sorry; I was not aware of the time factor.

Committees will be fundamental to the Parliament, as will be the involvement of the wider public. Not having time to go into those points in more detail, I will just say that the way in which we are approaching tuition fees seems to be a good example of the new politics working. We will involve people from outside and we will have a comprehensive debate in the chamber. That is a more sophisticated view of politics than the simplistic approach of individual party manifestos.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

I would like to explain to members that the bureau has ordered digital clocks to be installed around the hall so that I do not have to interrupt people when their time is up. In the meantime, there is no alternative.

Photo of Brian Monteith Brian Monteith Conservative 10:47 am, 19th May 1999

I would like to explain why we are proposing that the names of James Wallace and Ross Finnie be deleted and not those of, for instance, Henry McLeish or Susan Deacon. It is simple. Our amendment is about the conduct of the election campaign, before and after the vote.

When we launched our policy on tuition fees, proposing to introduce a scheme that would, effectively, abolish them, it was clear that other parties had similar policies. The nationalists and the Liberal Democrats launched their policies; it was clear to those who now sit here and the electorate that those parties were committed to the effective abolition of tuition fees. That was until Mr Wallace's wobbly weekend, when, during an interview, the fact that negotiations on tuition fees might be a part of coalition discussions became a possibility. It was then incumbent on those taking part in the campaign to pin Mr Wallace down. There followed a week of campaigning in which parties sought to ascertain what he meant. I attended a number of meetings and participated in programmes, and I well remember the Liberal Democrat spokesman intervening while Nicola Sturgeon was speaking, to assure us that there was no way that tuition fees would be negotiated on.

I remind Mr Wallace of his words:

"I'm not going to trade principles for a ministerial Mondeo. I'm not to be bought at any price."

It could not be clearer than that. He also said:

"Tuition fees are dead as of next Friday. The people of Scotland have made it non-negotiable."

He was talking about the Friday after the election. Those were the words that Mr Wallace used to clarify the situation, just in case there was a scintilla of doubt about what he had said in that interview.

Nicol Stephen came to Mr Wallace's rescue. He had said previously that tuition fees would go, and he is on record as saying:

"If Scotland gets the opportunity to blaze a trail for the rest of the UK by abolishing tuition fees, we should grab it."

We waited in expectation, knowing that on that Friday tuition fees would go if the Liberal Democrats joined the nationalists and the Tories, but the Liberal Democrats decided that they could have an inquiry, buy time and possibly ensure that they could take part in a coalition deal, even though in previous election material they said:

"We now have clear and indisputable evidence of the damage that Labour's tuition fees have done to Scottish education . . . Abolishing tuition fees would instantly transform the situation."

They had no doubts; they had already made up their mind. Nevertheless, when it came to the aftermath of the election it was time to negotiate, to put tuition fees on the table and to talk about having a committee of inquiry that could give them the opportunity to ditch their promises later.

Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat

Mr Monteith has obviously not read the document. I want to make one point quite clear and, for his education, I will read it for him:

"The Liberal Democrats stood on a manifesto commitment to abolish tuition fees. The Liberal Democrats have maintained their position on it. The partnership agreement does not mean abandonment of that position."

Photo of Brian Monteith Brian Monteith Conservative

Can the gentleman tell me how he will vote when the inquiry is published and it recommends that tuition fees should stay in place? Can the gentleman tell me how all the other members of the Liberal Democrat party will vote? No? There we are. The point that is clear is that the Liberal Democrats went into the election with a clear commitment. They have brought shame not just to themselves, but to the whole idea of what the Parliament could do. The people who will be most hurt by that are those who voted for the Liberal Democrats, many of whom left the Labour party in order to do so. Those people put their trust in the Liberal Democrats and they will feel let down.

Some people may think that we need to abolish tuition fees and that I should be happy to see the Liberal Democrat party in difficulty over the issue. That is not the point. It is clear to me that the Liberal Democrat party has brought a greater cynicism towards all politicians, not just to itself. It has brought shame to all members of the Parliament and that is why it is important that we vote for the removal of James Wallace and Ross Finnie from the list of ministers. They do not stand for the things that they said that they would stand for, but are working against them. The Scottish people need to see that the Scottish Parliament takes notice of that and will remove them from the list of ministers. We should support the amendment.

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour 10:53 am, 19th May 1999

I am staggered by those remarks and by the fact that David McLetchie has lodged the amendment. Such comments come ill from Conservatives. Let us be absolutely clear on the matter. The Conservatives absolutely refuse to recognise the new political climate in Scotland. However, if it were not for that new political climate, those seats would all be empty-that is not strictly true; the seats would be filled, but not by Conservatives. There has to be a new understanding of the position that we are in.

I also address my remarks to Roseanna Cunningham, although I see that she has not stayed for the rest of the debate. None the less, the question is-as Malcolm Chisholm has already mentioned-what the realistic expectation was when the election took place on 6 May. Was the expectation that one party would have a majority? I do not think so. The negotiations that were undertaken in the immediate post-election period were utterly understandable and reasonable. Those negotiations have produced what we hope will be a stable Government. What was the alternative to that? It was a political coconut-shy, based on a party that had 39 per cent of the vote.

Photo of Brian Adam Brian Adam Scottish National Party

In light of the new coalition arrangement, will Mr Watson tell us precisely what the Labour party has given up from its manifesto in order to accommodate the Liberal Democrat party? We are well aware of what the Liberal Democrat party has given up to accommodate the Labour party, but what has the Labour party given up?

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

It is not the purpose of the debate that I should answer such questions. The purpose of the debate is to put forward and ratify the Cabinet that has emerged from the discussions. As far as I am concerned, both political parties are satisfied with the outcome, and that is what this form of Parliament was always going to be about. It was absolutely predictable.

One of the basic mistakes made by those who fail to grasp the new political situation is that they suggest that the Labour party should have gone into government on its own, and should have walked that perpetual tightrope on every political issue. I suppose that we should be flattered by that. However, such a Government would always have been in danger of being knocked off at any point, perhaps without notice, and I do not think that that is what the people of Scotland voted for on 6 May. They voted for a system which meant that, if a party did not get an overall majority, it had to enter into some form of agreement. Nor do I think that the manifesto commitments of all the parties were held to be indivisible, as there is no way that political parties, having stood against one another during an election, could enter into any form of coalition without each side giving something away in negotiations, and that is clearly the case for this coalition.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Mr Watson talks about the new political climate. I put it to him that perhaps the electorate of Scotland made their judgment on the basis that there would be no overall majority party, and that the Parliament would take each issue on its merits. That is what the people of Scotland wanted and, by entering into a shady deal, the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats have cheated the people of Scotland.

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

That is nonsense-it might not come as a surprise that I have said that to Mr Gallie before.

The people of Scotland, who are watching both this debate and the way in which the Parliament develops, want stable government for Scotland. They do not want the political knockabout of a student debating society, which, day on day, week on week, would be balanced on a knife edge. That might make good television and good reporting for our colleagues in the press gallery, but it is not what the people of Scotland voted for.

The negotiations that have produced the Cabinet whose members are here today is liable to produce stable government for Scotland. That does not mean that it will last for four years. I hope personally that it will, but it might not. The issue of tuition fees has been raised to a ridiculous level of importance and, although I accept that it is an important issue, it is not the most important issue to Scotland as a whole. Tuition fees do not mean much to young, unemployed people, or to a single parent living in a damp house. If agreement is reached today to endorse this Cabinet, as I am sure it will, those issues can be dealt with and resolved. We can bring a Government to Scotland that is much more responsive than has been the case in the past.

That is what the Labour-Liberal Democrat agreement is about, and this is the Cabinet that it has produced. I invite members to endorse the Cabinet.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

I am sorry, but your microphone is not working. Did you fail to press the button?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

No, the button is pressed.

In opposing the appointment of Ross Finnie, I wish to refer to recent developments in the fishing industry that have implications for the rural affairs portfolio.

After 18 long years of Tory sell-outs in Westminster, Scotland's fishing industry has been keenly looking forward to the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, so that it has a forum where its voice is heard, and where the industry is not used merely as a bargaining chip. However, I fear that the appointment of Ross Finnie will do little to improve the fortunes of the fishing industry.

The industry continues to suffer from backroom deals, whether those deals are made 500 miles away in London or around the corner from this chamber. New Labour has picked up where the Tories left off. A few days ago, it was revealed that Westminster had moved the English boundary 60 miles into Scottish waters, and, by the passing of an order in London, 6,000 square miles of Scottish waters had been stolen. The fishing industry now faces the prospect of the English-Scottish boundary being just east of Carnoustie. Even Ross Finnie, with his skills in accountancy, will be unable to make sense of that ridiculous situation.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

Mr Robson, press your button only once. If you press it twice, you have had it.

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat

I hope that Mr Lochhead will concede that the English-Scottish boundary is not the responsibility of the partnership agreement.

It is clear that we need an early debate on that subject. It is also clear that the fishermen's associations were not consulted in any way, shape or form. Indeed, delegations are coming today to Parliament to talk about the subject. However, I hope that Mr Lochhead will accept that it is false and unacceptable to infer that that was some deal cooked up in the partnership programme for government. To illustrate the point, fishery protection officers in Eyemouth in my constituency-

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

That was a speech, not an intervention. If Mr Robson listens to the rest of my speech, he will find out exactly why the fishing industry is concerned about the agreement between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party. That industry is up in arms. It was not consulted by any of the authorities. The Parliament in Scotland was not consulted. Indeed, no courtesy was shown to the industry-it found out about this theft only from someone who was at an oil industry liaison meeting, when it crept up in conversation.

Another backroom deal was struck around the corner, and we find yet again that the fishing industry is the victim of a backroom deal. Thanks to this coalition, the importance of the fishing industry has been reduced to 16 words out of a 24-page manifesto. That is why the fishing industry is concerned about the coalition deal and why it wants more attention to be shown.

Fishing industry leaders are visiting Parliament today, and I ask all members of all parties to support the fishermen's cause without being distracted by or tied to any backroom deal. That is why I oppose Ross Finnie's appointment.

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour 11:02 am, 19th May 1999

I shall speak against the amendment moved by David McLetchie.

The people of Scotland elected this Parliament less than two weeks ago. On Thursday, we voted with an overall majority to appoint Donald Dewar as the First Minister. Now the parties that lost the election and which lost the vote for First Minister are showing that they are not prepared to accept the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland and of this Parliament. That gives the lie once and for all to the parties' protestations that they would make the Parliament work.

As a team, the first Scottish Executive will lead the new Scotland into a new century, and we should be determined to make the new Scotland a showpiece of social justice and economic success. When Keir Hardie founded the Labour party 100 years ago and stated the case for a Scottish Parliament, he set in train the events that led to this Parliament. The Liberal Democrats also have a long and proud commitment to home rule.

Because of that shared history, both parties co-operated to win the Parliament through the constitutional convention, the referendum campaign, the Scotland Act 1998 and the consultative steering group. This week, we delivered on our long-standing and principled commitments to make this Parliament work. Those principles towered above our party political differences. However, those differences should not be underestimated. The two parties have separate identities and different cultures and constituencies and fought tooth and nail for votes in the election, but they have been able to put those differences aside in service to the people of Scotland.

The partnership into which we have entered ensures that the Parliament has the stability necessary to work for all the people of Scotland.

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

I have no desire to give way. The wrecking tactics that we have seen today reinforce the need for stability. Mr McLetchie's amendment seeks to isolate one part of the partnership, but that will not work. The partnership agreement was signed in service to the people of Scotland, and it should not be broken in the name of narrow political advantage.

Jim Wallace will bring forward freedom of information legislation to entrench the new Scottish Parliament as being open and democratic. Those who complain of so-called deals done behind closed doors-when in fact "Partnership for Scotland" has been published and is the subject of debate today-should perhaps reflect that as a result of such work, Jim Wallace will lead the introduction of freedom of information legislation in this new Parliament.

The people of Scotland want a Parliament that can deliver on the issues that each and every one of us took around the doors for the four or five weeks of the election campaign: better schools, colleges and universities, a national health service that delivers for patients, safer communities and warm and decent homes.

This week's "Partnership for Scotland" agreement provides the stability necessary to achieve those aims. We should not let political opportunists damage the new politics before they take root. Our aim through the partnership is to improve the quality of life for Scottish people and to achieve nothing less than equality and justice for every man, woman and child in Scotland.

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative 11:05 am, 19th May 1999

I question Ross Finnie's commitment to, and empathy for, rural affairs, given his support for increasing the fuel escalator above the level imposed by his new party leader. Higher fuel costs are having a serious effect on the transportation of goods, which affects businesses, tourists and people who live and work in the Highlands and Islands. If the Administration's view is that rural affairs should be viewed solely as an accounting exercise, it is sadly out of touch with the needs and concerns of Scotland's rural communities.

Why was the well-respected highlander, John Farquhar Munro, who has many years' experience on Highland Council and as chairman of its roads and transport committee, not considered for the post of Minister for Rural Affairs?

Having been a lecturer in further and higher education for the past 25 years, I am well aware of the demands that are made on our students and of the highly damaging effect of the imposition of tuition fees. I say to Mike Watson that the students of Scotland need no lessons on who is affected by tuition fees; single parents and the young unemployed are the ones who would benefit most from their abolition.

Photo of Richard Simpson Richard Simpson Labour

Mary Scanlon cannot have been listening to the First Minister's speech. He mentioned a most interesting statistic that may help to raise the debate from its juvenile level, at which I am appalled. Given that 53 per cent of the population had no tuition fees to pay, can Mary Scanlon mention a single parent or any unemployed person who has had to pay tuition fees?

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative

I will respond to the First Minister's comment about the percentage of people not paying tuition fees. Those who are eligible to pay tuition fees are exactly the people who are choosing not to enter further and higher education. As a student adviser at the University of the Highlands and Islands until one month ago, I had personal experience not only of students deciding not to enter further and higher education but of many who had to drop out.

When Jim Wallace works out how to spend his additional £33,000 salary and Mr Finnie his additional £17,500, will they spare a thought for the thousands of students in Scotland who will pay a heavy price for Lib-Lab collective Cabinet responsibility? Students who are planning to start a course this autumn do not know whether they will have to pay fees this year, next year or in the future. Will Jim Wallace and Ross Finnie consider the hardship of students in the Highlands and other rural areas-where wages and salaries are below the national average-who require a longer pay-back period? Will they give some thought to the high proportion of students who work long hours to pay tuition fees and to pay for their keep and the effect that that has on their health, studies, future qualifications and life choices?

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative

No, I have almost finished. Will the Liberal Democrats apologise to the voters in Scotland for promises made before 6 May being promises betrayed on 14 May?

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat 11:10 am, 19th May 1999

I support the motion. I have been especially interested in the debate on tuition fees and in Mary Scanlon's assumption about the outcome of the report into tuition fees and the debate that will follow it.

My belief is that the partnership Government will offer stability, coherence and a sense of direction for the first four years of the Parliament. Such a climate is especially important for commerce and industry-I have had some comments from my constituency to that effect. The programme for the Government is sound, but it is clearly a starting point for the future. The programme will develop. It is too early to make a judgment on it-it should be judged at the end of four years. Despite that, there is a presumption among Opposition members that they know the outcome of the debate and the vote on tuition fees.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

I am very interested in what Mr Robson has to say. He is now a Borders MSP, as is Mr Jenkins. Does Mr Robson think that the Liberal Democrats have a mandate to go into a coalition with the Labour party when in Roxburghshire the Labour party came fourth, and in Tweeddale it came third? I do not think that the Liberal Democrats have the authority of the people in the Borders for such a coalition.

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat

As we have won the seats, I think we have a mandate.

Earlier, I tried to make a point about the fishing dispute. That matter arose before the formation of the partnership Government. It is of considerable importance, and I hope that we can have an early debate on it. What happened impinges on the rights of this Parliament-it should not have been dealt with as it was. The consultation on the issue was lamentable.

Photo of Duncan Hamilton Duncan Hamilton Scottish National Party 11:12 am, 19th May 1999

I support the amendment that opposes the appointment of Mr Jim Wallace. I do so with some regret: such opposition was not my understanding of the new style of politics, but neither was it my understanding of the new politics that coalition meant takeover. Sadly, that is where we are at.

The First Minister started this debate by talking about how the Scottish National party was against the whole concept and principle of coalition government. Nothing could be further from the truth. What we are against is the misuse of coalition by the Labour party, which simply assumes that its manifesto can be imposed on the Parliament, on the country, and certainly on the minority party in the arrangement. Let us separate the principle of coalition government from the rather tawdry practice of it that we are seeing here today.

I cannot be the only member who spent the election campaign listening to a Liberal Democrat opponent-in my case the aptly named Mr Lyon-who told everyone about his party's immutable and unalterable commitment to the principle of free education. That principle was important for people in rural areas, where we had to give people access to education to give them a chance to improve their lives. It was a principle that would garner support across the Parliament. Then, all of a sudden, the principle changed. It did not change for any rational reason, and it did not change after an inquiry; it changed purely because a few members of the Liberal party fancied getting themselves into the Cabinet. George now says that, after an inquiry, he will give us an answer as to whether he will have a free vote or opinion. George did not need an inquiry before 6 May. I am not sure what has changed. Perhaps he can tell me.

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

Does that mean that if the inquiry does not recommend the abolition of tuition fees Duncan will vote against its findings?

Photo of Duncan Hamilton Duncan Hamilton Scottish National Party

The Scottish National party is absolutely full square against tuition fees, and I would certainly vote against such a finding. What this discussion highlights is the difference between a party of principle and a party of opportunism, which is what it seems George represents.

It was also fascinating to listen to George's arguments about beef on the bone. He is the recently retired president of the National Farmers Union. I wonder what the farmers have to say about his prevarication over lifting the beef-on-the-bone ban and about how the commitment to lifting the ban immediately seems, as a result of another of his opportunistic guises, to have mutated. I wonder what his previous employers will have to say.

This is not just about policy; it is also about integrity. Many of the points that have been raised with me in reaction to the coalition are about the death of a Liberal party in Scotland. No one can deny that there is a long and proud tradition of liberal democracy in Scotland, but we are seeing a massive sell-out. We are seeing the death of a distinct political party, and its amalgamation into a larger Labour party. That is a very bad thing for Scottish democracy.

The point of proportional representation is to encourage minority parties and the fractionising of the political process to ensure that there is wider, more mature and more adult debate. Rather than more parties and more opinions, what seems to be coming through in the guise of coalition government is fewer parties and one opinion. I suggest that that is a regressive step. As the leader in the negotiations, Mr Wallace should take the responsibility for that. In opposing his appointment, we must ask ourselves how a man who clearly cannot command the support of his own party can seriously expect to command the support of this Parliament.

Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour 11:15 am, 19th May 1999

I support the election of the Executive that has been proposed by the First Minister because I want stability in the Government. That is a view that I think is shared by the Scottish people. At the start of this new Parliament, the best way to ensure stability and consistency in government is to look at what unites the parties in this chamber, not at what divides them.

Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats have many common aims. Both want more investment in schools and hospitals. We want to see that political power is exercised as closely as possible to the Scottish people and we want to ensure that Scotland remains a full and equal partner in a stable United Kingdom.

We should not, therefore, be surprised that the new politics in Scotland has led to partnership. Governing Scotland as a partnership from the start reflects the will of the electorate. This is the fulfilment of the Labour party's desire for a new, inclusive and consensual politics. Inclusion and consensus are key words in Scottish politics at the moment. They are the heart and soul of partnership. This is all about finding a way to accommodate our differences, working hard to realise our common aims and forging policies that will contribute to the common good.

The proposed Executive is part of a partnership that comprises a majority of the Parliament. When the public watches this debate it will be disappointed that certain members tried to break the consensus so soon by attempting to stop the Executive carrying out its vital work for Scotland.

As well as stability in government, the Scottish people-and Scottish business in particular-want stability in national finances and prudence in their use. We already-as part of the wider British partnership-benefit from a stable foundation. The Minister for Finance in this Parliament must ensure that we build on that stability to give us a dynamic and enterprising economy.

We must have a minister who understands that prudence in the use of our finances means recognising that there is a public desire for increased investment in schools and hospitals. That increased investment should be delivered because it is right to do so, but it must be delivered without our blindly running into increased income tax. Increased investment must be accompanied by a determination to ensure dynamism and enterprise without the damaging effect of unnecessary tax rises.

The Labour party has already shown that it is possible to win the trust of the Scottish people by promising and delivering no rise in income tax. The Executive of this new Parliament will be able to do likewise. I want an Executive that the Scottish people can trust to deliver their priorities. A Minister for Finance whom the people can trust always to have their priorities at heart must be central to that.

I, for one, recognise the talent and determination that Jack McConnell would bring to the post. He would think of nothing but Scotland's best interests. Those who seek to oppose this Executive should start to do likewise.

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP 11:18 am, 19th May 1999

I suppose that time will show that none of us has a monopoly on wisdom and, therefore, that those of us who believe that what has been cobbled together between Labour and the Liberals is a very shabby deal must wait to see the result in the future opinions of ordinary people in Scotland.

It is obvious that members in the Labour and Liberal coalition believe that they have put together a stable Government that will deliver what they promised. The difficulty for the Liberal Democrats is that what they promised to deliver has been deleted within a week of discussion of the deal.

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

I will not give way yet. My remarks are in many respects directed towards Mr McLetchie's amendment.

In many ways, Labour has what it wanted-it has subsumed the Liberals in this pact. I do not often refer to editorials in the Sunday Mail, but I think that that paper got it just about right last Sunday: "Liberal Democrats RIP." They have let down their electorate and the people of Scotland.

Many members, including Mr Dewar, said that this was not a one-issue election. There were, however, some issues that dominated the campaign, one of which was student funding and, in particular, tuition fees. During the hustings, I took part in many a debate with new Labour members-I will not embarrass any of them by referring to them by name-and I found it very difficult to get them to defend tuition fees. Many of them said that the situation would have to be reviewed after the election, which I think managed to hold off some of the revolt among the students at the debates.

The difficulty is that more than 60 per cent of the people of Scotland voted for political parties that said quite clearly that they wanted tuition fees to be abolished. I agree with Mr Watson's point that tuition fees should not become a bête noire. Frankly, for the lone parents and unemployed people he mentioned, tuition fees are not the main issue; the main issue is student maintenance.

The other problem for new Labour is that it has gone even further than the Tories. It is rather sad that we can listen to representatives of the Tory party talking today about student maintenance and support when that party's record of underfunding of education and, in particular, attacks on students is nothing short of a disgrace. The difficulty is that new Labour's performance is allowing the Tories to behave like the students' friends, because new Labour has gone further than the Tory party.

Many new Labour members, many of whom I recognise in the chamber-I see Mr McConnell here, although I would not want to embarrass anyone-benefited from the same educational opportunity as I did. In 1981, under a Tory Government, I was able to attend Stirling university, to receive a full maintenance grant and to claim housing benefit between terms, free of the idea of tuition fees-although my parents' income at the time would have meant that fees would not have been a factor. New Labour has removed access to education for working-class children from the housing schemes of Scotland because it has removed access to student maintenance. That is why the deal that has been entered into with the Liberals is so shabby.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

You will not be able to give way later, as you have had nearly four minutes.

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

I have nearly finished. That is why I am not letting him in.

If the Liberals had stuck to their guns on the tuition fee argument, the issue of student funding would have been raised very early on in the session. That is what we wanted, what the National Union of Students wanted and, frankly, in the opinion of my party, what the electorate of Scotland wanted. It is from that point of view that I support Mr McLetchie's amendment. If people want new politics, there it is; on this occasion the Scottish Socialist party is willing to support his amendment.

I know that many members of new Labour are sitting uncomfortably on the idea that new Labour is a party that has gone further than the Tories in underfunding student support. Perhaps Mr Dewar, if he were here, would confess that his concern about having a free vote after an inquiry is not about the Liberals, but about members of his party voting against fees.

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour 11:24 am, 19th May 1999

During the past two weeks, I have been struck, as I am sure have many other members, by the extent to which people of all shades of political opinion in Scotland are enthused about the prospect of the new Parliament and the opportunities it creates for better government of Scotland. Almost everybody to whom one speaks wants this Parliament to succeed. It is for that reason most of all, that I support the partnership agreement-it provides a framework for meeting the aspirations of the Scottish people.

Whichever aspect of policy people are concerned with, the agreement delivers a secure and stable Government. I believe that the Government will operate in a new, different and more integrated way. It will seek solutions through extensive consultation and discussion-processes we are all committed to-that will transcend departmental and organisational boundaries. It will deliver, I hope, better co-ordinated and more effective action. Goodness knows, people have elected a Parliament for a purpose, not because it is a beautiful idea in principle. They want to change things and see effective action taken. That is what we are here for. This is about delivering for people.

Effective action is vital across a range of policies, but I want to address the issue of public health and social work. The health inequalities in Scotland are an affront to our society and we must do something about them. I believe that all parties in the Parliament have an obligation to deal with the severe health inequalities that currently exist.

On a number of occasions, as Minister for Health and the Arts, Sam Galbraith has highlighted the gulf in health between different parts of Scotland. The example commonly used is that of Bearsden and, just over the constituency boundary, Drumchapel. My constituency is a microcosm of the health inequalities in Scotland: in Clydebank there is poor health equivalent to that found in many parts of north and east Glasgow; at the other end of my constituency there are leafy suburbs, including not just Milngavie but a substantial part of Bearsden, where the health status of the population is much better. We have to deal with those health inequalities, which are to be found in areas that are so close to each other, in an integrated way. Under this Government, I am confident that one of the key priorities will be a general improvement in health and the tackling of health inequalities.

A great deal has been done since 1997. I do not want to embarrass Sam Galbraith. He has ended the flawed internal market, poured substantial resources into front-line services in health and effectively promulgated the ethos of putting patients first. His biggest achievement was to reject decisively the blame culture established under the Conservative Government which, in effect, held poor people responsible for having worse health because of their poverty. That was unacceptable.

We have to address the fact that poverty induces ill health. Social disadvantage, whether it is caused by poverty or by personal circumstances-which may affect individuals in any part of society-generates ill health. Ill health reduces people's opportunities and disfigures their lives.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

I am sorry to interrupt, but time is running out.

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour

I will just wind up. This affliction needs to be tackled in three ways: first, by taking specific measures-and I am confident that the new team will pursue such measures; secondly, by establishing clear targets that show how we are going to change things and allow people to measure our achievements; thirdly, by having a health impact assessment of all our policies so that they are properly integrated. If we can take that step and deliver measurable achievements in health, it will be a sign of what can be achieved through the Government's partnership agreement.

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party 11:29 am, 19th May 1999

The people of Scotland elected the Scottish Parliament to reflect their needs and aspirations. As the elected members of this Parliament, we have the responsibility of ensuring that we have a Parliament that is open, accountable and, above all, democratic in its decision making.

During the early days of this Parliament, and from the publication of the partnership document by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, it was clear that a sell-out was taking place for the sake of ministerial office rather than of reflecting the needs of the people of Scotland. A majority of members were elected on the basis of manifestos that committed them to abolishing student tuition fees and lifting the beef-on-the-bone ban.

In February 1998, Charles Kennedy-that well-known Liberal Democrat face and the man who is now one of the front runners for the leadership of that party-led the Opposition debate in the House of Commons. He led the debate against the Government and its ban on beef on the bone. Now what do we see? We see Mr Finnie and his leadership colleagues doing a U-turn on the issue. They now tell us that they will wait until they receive the right medical evidence before making such a decision. Why did they not take the same medical evidence before they made it their party's policy to lift the ban? The words "envelope" and "the back of it" with regard to policy making come to mind. The Liberal Democrats have clearly failed to think through this process and have concerned themselves more with ministerial office.

It is all very well for people such as Mr Finnie to sell out on their party policy, but selling out on the farmers who voted for the Liberal Democrats and on the people who live in rural communities that depend on farming is not just selling out on their party policy, it is a betrayal of the supporters who elected them to this chamber.

Photo of Richard Simpson Richard Simpson Labour

What astonishes me about the points being made by Michael Matheson and the parties who wish to lift the beef-on-the-bone ban is that they are determined to go against the medical advice that is being offered. Does he think that any member does not want the ban on beef on the bone lifted as quickly as possible? The ban cannot be lifted until the appropriate medical advice has been received.

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

I must point out to Dr Simpson that the majority of members were elected on a commitment to get the ban lifted. Mr Lyon-who has disappeared and has not remained for the debate-was one of the leading members of the National Farmers Union who campaigned against the Government's imposition of the ban.

Let us consider how Mr Finnie, the new Minister for Rural Affairs, will operate and the areas that he will be responsible for. Issues relating to rural transport and the environment will be the responsibility of the Minister for Transport and the Environment, not Mr Finnie. The issues of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Gaelic will be the responsibility of the Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, not Mr Finnie. Mr Finnie will be left with agriculture, and we have already seen that he sold out on the farmers in regard to the beef-on-the-bone ban.

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

I am winding up.

We have also seen recently how Westminster has ignored this chamber.

Mr Finnie will be left with forestry. I am sure that that is high on the agenda of the people of Inverclyde, but it is hardly justification for the creation of such a senior ministerial portfolio-it smacks more of creating a portfolio to keep the Liberal Democrats on side. I have two key reasons for opposing Mr Finnie's appointment-

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour 11:34 am, 19th May 1999

We were told when this new Parliament was created that it would be an opportunity to do things differently, and that it would be a forum for positive debate to represent civic Scotland in a change for the better. However, in a sense, at the first test we have failed, because the first major debate of this Parliament is not about policies that will improve the lot of ordinary people in Scotland; it is an attack on a number of individuals in this Parliament and on the roles which they are hoping to play. We should be debating social inclusion and the damage that has been done in Scotland during 18 years of Tory neglect. Those are the things that matter to the people of Scotland. We have an opportunity in this Parliament to rebuild our civic society.

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

If Mr Henry wants us to do things differently, perhaps the parties should fulfil their manifesto commitments for once.

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

When I look at the agreement, I see an opportunity for the Labour party not only to fulfil its manifesto commitments, but to take account of some of the positive things that people from other parties in this Parliament bring to the debate. Yes, we have been elected on a strong manifesto, but we have also been elected on a commitment to listen to other people in this Parliament and to listen to people throughout Scotland. That is how we should proceed.

We should be examining ways in which to involve those who have been socially excluded-those who have been neglected and do not have the opportunity to play their full part in our society. We were told by our opponents that they would make this Parliament work, but all we get is a mean-spirited attack on, for example, Henry McLeish, a man who spent countless hours helping to drive through the legislation that created this Parliament, which is attempting to represent civic Scotland. We do not get a debate on the positive virtues of this Parliament, but an attack on Henry McLeish and other individuals. Clearly, there are those who would rather be negative, destructive and spiteful.

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

We should be looking to debate a more positive way forward in a new Parliament. [Interruption.]

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

If the gentleman does not want to give way, members must resume their seats.

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

For too long we have neglected many in our society who have not had the opportunity to fulfil their true potential. This debate should be about giving those people that opportunity, creating a new Scotland, creating new debate and creating new policies.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan Independent 11:37 am, 19th May 1999

I lodged an amendment similar to that of Mr Swinney to exclude Henry McLeish from the list of ministerial appointments. I want to make it clear at the outset that I bear no personal animosity towards Henry; in fact, I hold him in high personal regard. However, I feel very strongly that the minister responsible for higher education ought to be more in line with Scottish public opinion on that important subject.

It is a fact that the majority of members of this Parliament were elected on commitments to abolish tuition fees. It is another fact that the Labour party was the only party that contested that election without a commitment to abolish tuition fees. I find it rather ironic that the party of free education has become the party of fee-paying education. That may be part of the reason for the Labour party's failure to win a majority of seats in this Parliament. Nevertheless, Labour has an obligation to respect the views of the Scottish people, including their views on the important matter of higher education.

I want to say something about this Lib-Lab pact, or partnership, or whatever it is called. I am not opposed in principle to a coalition, but this seems to be a rather shabby deal to cheat the people by depriving them of what they voted for. All that we have on tuition fees is the promise of some kind of inquiry or review. Anybody with any experience of politics in another place knows that the term review is just Westminster-speak for a fudge. Besides, we have just had a national review of tuition fees-it was called an election. During the election the subject was aired very adequately, not just in my constituency but in virtually every constituency in the country.

The people of Scotland want us to introduce early legislation to abolish tuition fees. The abolition of tuition fees, although necessary, is not sufficient, because it must be accompanied by the restoration of student grants, particularly for students from low-income families. Virtually all the designated members of the new Scottish Executive had the same advantage that I had: going to university with the assistance of a student grant. Many of us would never have had that opportunity if we had not had student grants.

I remember visiting the campus of the University of Stirling, which was then in my constituency, as a young Labour MP, many years ago. A young revolutionary, complete with long hair and leather jacket, started haranguing Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister at that time, who was perceived by that student revolutionary, who was then a member of the Communist party, as the great bogeyman. The student revolutionary complained that Harold Wilson was not doing enough to help students because he was not meeting the full demands of the National Union of Students for an increase in grants.

Times change. Earlier this week, that erstwhile student revolutionary became the new Secretary of State for Scotland, and therefore a member of a Cabinet which, frankly, has kicked away the ladder of opportunity from many students, including future generations of students.

We should not repeat the same mistake in this place. We, collectively, as members of this Parliament-not just the members of the Scottish Executive-have a great responsibility to try to ensure that young people in particular have maximum educational opportunity, including those from low-income families.

In a sense, education is the key to the future of our country, and we should not sell our young people short.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour 11:43 am, 19th May 1999

I welcome the nomination of an Executive to represent the whole of Scotland and to highlight the priorities for Government.

In my constituency of Aberdeen Central, there are areas of severe urban deprivation. There will be a warm welcome there for the creation of a ministry for social inclusion.

Aberdeen is also at the heart of a wide rural hinterland; there will also be a warm welcome for the creation of a specific ministry for rural affairs. Important city-based industries such as paper and food look to the country areas as a source of supply; people from country areas come into town for their health services, higher education and much else. So central is Aberdeen to the rural north-east that Aberdeenshire Council, as well as the city council, is headquartered in my constituency.

Beside all those things and beside all the economic links, there are family ties; today, most relevantly, there are shared values. I am confident that in both town and country in the north-east, there will be broad support for the principles which underlie the partnership agreement that has been presented today: principles of working together on a co-operative basis and of seeking to make this Parliament work not as a Westminster in miniature and not as a stepping-stone to independence, but as an open, accessible and new Parliament in its own right.

Photo of Brian Adam Brian Adam Scottish National Party

Mr Macdonald referred to the partnership agreement and to its principles. It is fairly obvious which particular principles the Liberal Democrats have given up to reach that partnership. For the benefit of the rest of us, would Lewis Macdonald care to elucidate which principles the Labour party is giving up to enter the agreement?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I appreciate Mr Adam's persistence in asking that question a second time. He misses the point of the partnership, which is to bring together the positive aspects of the two manifestos. That is what the partnership agreement-very notably-achieves.

There will be a particular welcome in the north-east for the strategic approach that the Minister for Rural Affairs permits on rural issues. The new ministry will have a straightforward but very wide remit, although it was criticised by a member of the SNP. In fact the ministry will be responsible for co-ordinating the delivery of services across a wide range. It will work with the transport ministry on integrated rural transport policy and it will work with the justice department on promoting and implementing land reform. These are positive and welcome developments.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

The ministry for rural affairs will also develop policy and by its very existence send out the right signals about the priority that this Parliament gives to rural areas. I am disappointed that some of the parties here choose, as their first reaction to the proposal to create a ministry for rural affairs, to seek to delay the appointment of a minister. On the contrary, we should endorse the appointment of Ross Finnie and give rural issues the priority that they deserve.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

Ten members still wish to speak. If they notify the chamber office during the lunch break that they wish to be added to the list for the afternoon, we will try to include them then.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party 11:46 am, 19th May 1999

Mr Macdonald was just as embarrassed as Mr Watson was by the question from my colleague Mr Adam about what the Labour party had given up to ensure the partnership agreement. With a number of others who are here I was in London on Monday evening for the incapacity benefit vote. There was no embarrassment displayed then by Labour MPs who were, frankly, doing cartwheels along the lobbies of the House of Commons because of what had been achieved by the Labour party at the expense of the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Adam's question was a key moment in the debate. The other key moment in the debate was Mr Lyon's contribution, and I am glad to see that he has come back into the chamber. He told us that the Liberal Democrats will be making up their own minds about tuition fees in due course. I am sorry, but I still cannot reconcile that statement with remarks on the record by Mr McLeish that quite clearly say that the two parties will come to an agreement within the coalition Executive on what the line is on tuition fees and that both parliamentary parties will be bound by it. Those two points of view are not compatible.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Please excuse me-I would normally give way, but I have only two minutes. I worked in the business world before I became a full-time parliamentarian and when two companies came together there was always a debate on whether it was a merger or a takeover. I think all of us in the Parliament know that the coalition agreement was not a merger but a takeover: the Liberal Democrats were the wee party and the Labour party was the big party.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative 11:48 am, 19th May 1999

It has been a fascinating discussion so far. I was intrigued by the contribution from Mr Sheridan, whose support I welcome. [Laughter.] I was also intrigued by the contribution from Patricia Godman, who referred to Keir Hardie. I have to tell her that she will never get off the back benches by invoking the name of a socialist in the chamber. I was very intrigued by the lack of answers to the question posed by the persistent Mr Adam and I congratulate him on his persistence. The truth that his unanswered question elucidates is that the coalition is a result of a partnership of give and take-the Liberal Democrats giving and the Labour party taking. That is the foundation on which it is based.

I am intrigued by the faith that is being placed in the proposed committee of inquiry. Mr Canavan said that we have already had a national review in the general election. He is right, but preceding that there was a review in the Dearing and Garrick reports of the whole issue of funding of higher education, which came to a particular conclusion on fees. All the political parties had an opportunity to consider those reports and to come to their own conclusions on tuition fees. My party did so, as did the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats.

We have had all the inquiries, reports and reviews that we need to take a decision. We took a decision in our parties and the people took a decision on 6 May. The committee of inquiry, as Dennis Canavan rightly said, is a complete and utter fudge-it is a fig leaf and a delaying tactic to allow time for arm-twisting, or perhaps for gentle persuasion by Mr McLeish, in order to get a particular outcome.

We have been bombarded with letters from people in higher education requesting a wider review, because those people rightly feel that the Government will not make up the difference by providing the additional funding that those institutions need. That would be the real solution. Our solution is for Mr McConnell, as the new Minister for Finance, to sharpen his pencil, reduce the bloated administration, and redeploy some of the funds into the people's priorities-the abolition of tuition fees.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat 11:50 am, 19th May 1999

Those who are here-or people who watched the earlier meetings of the new Parliament-who thought that this was a completely new style of politics, and that the politics of the bitter battles of Westminster were dead and gone, will now have to revise their views. Today's debate has been typical of Westminster, down to the incisive interventions of Phil Gallie and the ever-charming speeches of Roseanna Cunningham. However, this is an era of new politics, and by progressing in a partnership agreement we have shown that such politics are possible. When I hear criticisms, it is with a sense of déjà vu. I remember criticisms from the same coalition of the SNP and Tories when the Liberal Democrats went into the constitutional convention with a broad range of Scottish civic opinion. We were told that, as Liberal Democrats, we would be eaten up, and that by selling out our principles we would not get anywhere. Yet the blueprint that was forged by that constitutional convention-including proportional representation-led to the very Parliament in which we are sitting today.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat

Our commitment to making this Parliament work can never have been in any doubt.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat

As a reputed minister for justice, I feel that when someone is in the dock they should be given the chance to answer the charges against them.

In the new politics, in which the voting system was always likely to make all parties minorities, we said all along that we would be willing to talk to the party with the largest number of seats, to consider whether a partnership agreement for a stable and effective Government could be achieved. By their votes, it was the people of Scotland who shaped the composition of this Parliament. It is up to us, the elected members of the Scottish Parliament, to make the effort to secure fair, stable and effective government, recognising that no single party has been given unlimited power by the people of Scotland. We talked for four days to achieve our negotiated partnership. It is a partnership that will last for four years. As Trish Godman said, our partnership agreement is open and it is on the record. We will be accountable according to that partnership agreement. The alternative would be four years of a hamstrung minority Government, with deals being cobbled together on the back stairs night after night. There would be no accountability and no notion of what was being traded for what.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

We are not disputing the Liberal Democrats going into those partnership talks; it is what they came out with that we are disputing. When we were on election programmes together, Mr Wallace said that the issue of tuition fees was non-negotiable. Did he then mean to negotiate after the election?

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat

I shall come to the issue of tuition fees. Mr Salmond also mentioned what resulted from the talks. I believe that we have achieved an agreement that addresses the needs of the people of Scotland as well as meeting our opportunities and challenges.

I appreciate that the culture of coalition government is not one with which we are very familiar in this country. Through either naivety or mischief, people think that the smaller party in a coalition can still achieve its whole manifesto. It is worth remembering what we have achieved: the investment of new real resources in our schools; additional teachers; more investment in books and equipment; immediate measures to tackle student hardship and to improve access to education; building on the health opportunities fund to promote public health; a healthy homes initiative to tackle dampness; a freedom of information regime; progress towards reform of the electoral system for local government; and a ministry for rural affairs, with specific measures to help farmers who are dogged by form filling and to promote quality Scottish meat produce. Our manifesto is committed to providing opportunities for new types of public and private partnerships. I do not think that Mr McLetchie ever read our manifesto. That commitment will allow assets-where appropriate-to revert to public ownership. We are also committed to freezing the tolls on the Skye bridge for the rest of the contract period. All those commitments are more than was ever on offer before and we have managed to negotiate them.

Liberal Democrats remain committed to the abolition of tuition fees, as my colleague Mike Rumbles indicated. A crucial element that is spelt out in the agreement is that we remain free to support that view and argue the case for it. We are the only party in this Parliament that has so far taken an initiative on tuition fees, with the exception of an amendment lodged by Mr Canavan. In spite of all the rhetoric, neither Mr Salmond's party nor Mr McLetchie's party has spelt out how they would fulfil and finance their commitment to Scotland's students.

We have secured, as a matter of urgency, the establishment of a committee of inquiry, whose membership, time scale and terms of reference will be approved by this Parliament. That committee will address not only tuition fees, but financial support for those participating part time and full time in further and higher education. I share Mr Canavan's concern about hardship among students. That was also mentioned by Mary Scanlon, although I do not think that the Tory party is in any position to lecture on student hardship.

The increase in access funds, in line with our manifesto commitment, to £14 million a year is a measure that will address student hardship. The pilot scheme to help young kids, who in the past felt that they had to leave school rather than take the opportunities that higher education could offer them, is a real step forward. Additional help for part-time and mature students is also a worthwhile effort that will encourage students who are trying to improve their qualifications.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat

The committee of inquiry is supported not only by the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals and by the Association of University Teachers, but by the National Union of Students (Scotland) which, like us, oppose tuition fees. I wonder whether the Conservative party and the SNP will present evidence to the committee, as the Liberal Democrats will.

Much has been said about principles. A belief in the basic worth, merit and integrity of every individual is what drives me as a liberal and as a Liberal Democrat. I believe in freedom from ignorance, and our policies are to improve access to and to invest in education. I believe in freedom from disease, and our policies will bring about a patient-centred health service, tackling bad health and promoting good health. I believe in freedom for each individual to fulfil his or her potential, and that is why we want to tap the reservoir of enterprise and to tackle the vicious circle of deprivation and underachievement. Those are fundamental principles to me and to my party. They are such important principles that I do not want just to talk about them; I want to do something about them. That is why we are prepared to go into government and put those principles into practice.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

I remind members of the voting procedure. When I put the question and ask, "Are we all agreed?", anyone who wishes to vote against or to register an abstention must shout no at that point. That triggers an electronic vote.

We come first to the amendment in the name of Mr David McLetchie:

S1M-4.1, to leave out "James Wallace" and "Ross Finnie".

The question is, that the amendment be agreed to. Are we all agreed?

Members:

No.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

In that case, there will be a division.

Members should vote yes to agree to the amendment, no to disagree with the amendment, or abstain to record an abstention. Members have 30 seconds in which to vote.

Division number 1

For: Aitken, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harding, Mr Keith, Harper, Robin, 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, Sheridan, Tommy, 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, Macdonald, Lewis, 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, 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, Scott, Tavish, 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

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is as follows: For 51, Against 70, Abstentions 0.

Amendment disagreed to.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

We come next to the amendment in the name of Mr Swinney:

S1M-4.3, to leave out "Henry McLeish".

The question is, that the amendment be agreed to. Are we all agreed?

Members:

No.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

In that case, we move to a division.

Those who support the amendment should vote yes, those who oppose it should vote no, and those who want to abstain should press their abstain button now.

Division number 2

For: Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Salmond, Mr Alex, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Ullrich, Kay, 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, Macdonald, Lewis, 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, 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, Scott, Tavish, 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: Aitken, Bill, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Harding, Mr Keith, Johnston, Mr Nick, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary, Sheridan, Tommy, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is as follows: For 33, Against 70, Abstentions 18.

Amendment disagreed to.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

We come now to the motion in the name of the First Minister:

That this Parliament agrees that

James Wallace,

Sam Galbraith,

Henry McLeish,

Jack McConnell,

Susan Deacon,

Tom McCabe,

Ross Finnie,

Wendy Alexander,

Sarah Boyack

be appointed as Ministers.

The question is, that the motion be agreed to. Are we all agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 3

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, Macdonald, Lewis, 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, 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, Scott, Tavish, 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: Aitken, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnston, Mr Nick, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeod, Fiona, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Salmond, Mr Alex, Sheridan, Tommy, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Abstentions: Davidson, Mr David, Fergusson, Alex, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Harding, Mr Keith, Harper, Robin, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is as follows: For 70, Against 38, Abstentions 11.

Motion agreed to.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the vote is valid, and I therefore declare that the Parliament has agreed to the First Minister's recommendations and that he may now recommend to Her Majesty that she appoint James Wallace, Sam Galbraith, Henry McLeish, Jack McConnell, Susan Deacon, Tom McCabe, Ross Finnie, Wendy Alexander and Sarah Boyack as ministers.

Question, That the meeting be now adjourned until 2.30 pm today, put and agreed to.- [Mr Reid.]

Meeting adjourned at 12:03.

On resuming-