Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:46 pm on 2nd June 1999.

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Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour 2:46 pm, 2nd June 1999

Before we move to the first item of business, I would like to make it clear that a revised version of today's business bulletin has been published. It includes motion S1M-30 in the name of Mr Tom McCabe, which is in the programme for this afternoon.

The first item of business this afternoon is consideration of a business motion from the Parliamentary Bureau setting out a business programme. Consideration of that motion will take place in a moment; I intend to put the question on the motion no later than 10 minutes after it is moved. If the motion is approved, the business programme for the remainder of the afternoon will be as set out in today's revised business bulletin.

I call on Tom McCabe to move the motion.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees the following business programme:

Wednesday 2 June that the following draft Orders-

The Scotland Act 1998 (Modifications of Schedules 4 and 5) Order 1999; The Scotland Act 1998 (Functions Exercisable in or as Regards Scotland) Order 1999; The Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 1999; The Scotland Act 1998 (Cross-Border Public Authorities) (Adaptation of Functions etc.) Order 1999; and The Scotland Act 1998 (Border Rivers) Order 1999 be considered by the Parliament.

followed by

Debate on the following motions-

S1M-25 Mr Henry McLeish: That the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Modifications of Schedules 4 and 5) Order 1999, which was laid before the Parliament on 26 May, be approved.

S1M-26 Mr Henry McLeish: That the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Functions Exercisable in or as Regards Scotland) Order 1999, which was laid before the Parliament on 26 May, be approved.

S1M-27 Mr Henry McLeish: That the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 1999, which was laid before the Parliament on 26 May, be approved.

5.00 pm Decision Time Thursday 3 June 1999

2.30 pm Debate on the following motions-

S1M-28 Mr Henry McLeish: That the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Cross-Border Public Authorities) (Adaptation of Functions etc.) Order 1999, which was laid before the Parliament on 26 May, be approved.

S1M-29 Mr Henry McLeish: That the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Border Rivers) Order 1999, which was laid before the Parliament on 26 May, be approved.

No later than 4.00 pm

Debate on the following motion-

S1M-19 Ross Finnie: That the Parliament notes that the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order (S.I.1999/1126) in no way alters or restricts the freedom of the Scottish fleet to fish consistent with the Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union; notes that from 1 July the Parliament will be charged with the responsibility of regulating fishing in the newly created Scottish zone of British Fishery Limits and fishing by all Scottish vessels no matter where they fish; and will require consultation with relevant bodies in the preparation of legislation relating to fishing in the Scottish zone.

5.00 pm Decision Time Tuesday 8 June 1999

2.30 pm Business Motion No later than 3.00 pm

Motion(s) on the establishment of Committees followed by

Motion on Members' Allowances

5.00 pm Decision Time Wednesday 9 June 1999

10.30 am Business Motion followed by

Debate(s) on the Consultative Steering Group report and draft Information Strategy.

followed by

Motion on the Parliamentary Recess (to be taken without debate).

12.30 pm Decision Time.- [Mr McCabe.]

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party 2:49 pm, 2nd June 1999

I oppose the business motion in Tom McCabe's name. It is with great reluctance that I take this step. According to the consultative steering group report, the business committee-the Parliamentary Bureau-was meant to operate in a "consensual way"; and I know that the business managers, the Presiding Officer, the Deputy Presiding Officers and others have taken that point very seriously. The Parliamentary Bureau is part of a package that should reflect a desire for new politics in Scotland.

I have given notice to the other business managers and to the Deputy Presiding Officers, through the Parliamentary Bureau, that I intend to oppose the business motion. I did that yesterday by minuting my dissent at a Parliamentary Bureau decision that was made by majority vote-the first vote that we have taken in four meetings.

The "Report of the Consultative Steering Group on the Scottish Parliament", which was drawn up a by a committee chaired by Henry McLeish, was greatly helped by his positive attitude-at that time-to the new politics. It expressed a belief that the "arrangements for the programming of business in the Scottish Parliament should be inclusive and transparent and should provide reasonable time for business initiated by non-Executive parties, by individual Members and by Committees."

Mindful of that, the Parliamentary Bureau intended to provide a small allocation of time this week for motions from members who are not ministers. I do not want to go into detail of the full discussions of the Parliamentary Bureau, but I must be able to say that, at last week's meeting, agreement was reached without dissent that time would be allocated this Thursday for a debate that would reflect motions lodged by members.

After discussion it was agreed that the debate should reflect on the order on the Scottish adjacent waters boundaries, because two motions, from two different groups of people, had been lodged on the matter. I stress that the Parliamentary Bureau wished to consider motions from members in order to reflect the desire of many members to debate current concerns. As there were two such motions, the Parliamentary Bureau asked the principal movers, Euan Robson and Richard Lochhead, to meet to arrange a single motion.

There would have been no difficulty in doing that; the motions were broadly similar and expressed opposition to the boundary order. However, negotiations on the motion were suspended yesterday morning after Euan Robson told Richard Lochhead that the Cabinet was discussing the matter. That was confirmed to me in a telephone conversation with the Liberal Democrat business manager.

Later yesterday morning, after the Cabinet meeting, I was approached and asked whether I would agree with an Executive motion in the name of Ross Finnie. I refused and asked for a special meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau. At that meeting, James Douglas-Hamilton proposed a compromise, which was to debate the matter on a motion from the SNP, with the Executive motion as an amendment. The original Cabinet decision was, however, rammed through on the votes of the Liberal Democrat and Labour business managers.

That is not the substantive issue. The substantive issue is what standing and status this Parliament and the Parliamentary Bureau have in ordering business. In Henry McLeish's introduction to the CSG report, he wrote that "the establishment of the Scottish Parliament offers the opportunity to put in place a new sort of democracy in Scotland . . . people . . . have high hopes for their Parliament . . . in particular our recommendations envisage an open, accessible Parliament; a Parliament where power is shared with the people".

In the last paragraph he adds:

"The work of this Group has set the tone for the future of Scottish politics."

It has not yet done that, but we can decide today to set the tone for the future of Scottish politics.

During the election, all parties and most candidates expressed their support for the new politics-a different way of doing things and a move away from the Westminster Government's dictatorial attitudes to the UK Parliament towards a consensual approach in which there would be debate and discussion on what took place. At the heart of that approach was the existence of the Parliamentary Bureau, which could discuss on behalf of the Parliament what motions would be taken and how they would be ordered.

I oppose this business motion because, within three weeks, we have departed from that practice. The pattern of departure has included the question of Short money, the problem of allowances and staff support and now the ordering of business. This Executive is saying that it will operate on the basis of Westminster business as usual, in which the views of the Government alone count.

I am informed that, regrettably, members of the Executive parties-even the Liberals, who have a proud record of defending democracy and parliamentary institutions-are being whipped to support the motion. They will allow a dark cloud to obscure the new light of Scottish democracy if this business motion goes through. If the motion is rejected, however, I understand that the bureau will meet immediately and a new business motion will be proposed.

The people of Scotland, who on 6 May demanded a new politics, deserve to be heard in this chamber. Most of all, they must be heard by the Executive. The people asked for a different way of doing things, the CSG produced a report which gave that life and the standing orders indicate that we should do things differently.

The obstacle to that lies with the Executive, which is determined to veto decisions of the Parliamentary Bureau as if it were a Cabinet sub-committee rather than a full committee of this Parliament. There is no doubt that the bureau is intended to be a full committee of this Parliament. To allow this motion to go through would be wrong in principle, wrong in practice, wrong for Scottish democracy and wrong for the future of this chamber. I ask members to oppose the motion.

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour 2:55 pm, 2nd June 1999

I will respond to some of Mr Russell's points in a few moments, although it may be helpful if I first summarise the exact content of the business motion.

I prefix my remarks by saying that it is a matter of some moment if members of the Parliamentary Bureau are prepared to oppose a business motion after a decision has been reached; that requires serious consideration. [Interruption.] Another matter that requires serious consideration is whether certain non-Executive members should learn to show some manners when other members are on their feet; that could take us some way towards establishing a Parliament that is different from Westminster, which is what so many non-Executive members have spent so much time telling us we should do.

The business motion sets out a programme of business for the Parliament up to and including 9 June. The Parliamentary Bureau intends this to be the first in a series of forward-looking motions, which in each case will normally span at least two weeks. It is proposed that the next business motion should be taken next week.

The main business proposed for today and tomorrow is the consideration to approve five orders under the Scotland Act 1998. Under rule 10.1.3, the Parliament requires that these orders be considered by a full meeting of the Parliament, in the absence of the appropriate committee to which they would normally be referred. It is further proposed that, tomorrow, the Parliament should also debate the Scottish adjacent waters boundaries.

In summary, the provisional business for the following week is that on 8 June the Parliament should debate motions on the establishment of committees and a motion on members' allowances. On 9 June, the Parliament should debate the consultative steering group report and the draft information strategy for the Parliament. In addition, there will be a motion to deal with the proposed summer recess. I should reiterate that the business motion is a decision of the Parliamentary Bureau and that that decision is taken by the business managers of all the parties.

Specific reference has been made to the adjacent waters debate. The bureau agreed that an Executive motion was an appropriate means to introduce the topic for debate. That will afford all members the opportunity to debate the topic; it will not prevent any member from speaking, and it does not preclude the opportunity to amend the motion. Indeed, in bringing forward the motion, the bureau shows willingness to make use of all available plenary time during what is, after all, a transition period between now and 1 July, when we take on our full powers.

The motion will be taken at a time that would usually be used for Executive business. If non-Executive parties wish to bring forward matters of concern, there are 15 half-day meetings in which they will have the opportunity to decide the topic for discussion. It is not the bureau's intention that this debate should in any way detract from the 15 half-day meetings each year for the non-Executive parties. The bureau will ensure that proper account is taken of the wishes of the non-Executive parties and that those 15 half-day meetings are available to them.

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour

The comment is unfortunate and the geography is wrong-it was South Lanarkshire.

I stress that no dark clouds will hang over this Parliament. The time today is Executive time. There is no attempt to inhibit debate. The subject that non-Executive members want to discuss is being debated. They will have the opportunity to contribute to that debate and to move any amendments. I move the business motion.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan Independent

On a point of order. The starting time for our meeting on Wednesday 9 June 1999 is omitted in my printed copy of the business bulletin; it states that decision time will be at 12:30 pm but does not state at what time we are due to start. Perhaps Mr McCabe could advise us if that means that the motion, as it stands, is incomplete?

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

That information will be included in the business list at a later date; it is not necessary for it to appear now.

It is time to put the question on the motion. The question is, that motion S1M-17, in the name of Mr Tom McCabe, be agreed to. Are we all agreed?



Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

In that case, there will be a division. There will be a 30-second period in which members may vote; members should not cast their votes until the red light appears on the console. If members wish to agree, they should press the yes button. If they wish to disagree, they should press the no button, and if they wish to abstain, they should record that by pressing the appropriate button. The red light is now on, so members may vote.

Division number 1

For: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Finnie, Ross, Galbraith, Mr Sam, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, 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, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Ms Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Ian, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce JP, Cunningham, Roseanna, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnston, Mr Nick, Johnstone, Alex, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeod, Fiona, McLetchie, David, Morgan, Alasdair, 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, Ullrich, Kay, Wallace, Ben, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

The result of the division is as follows: For 66, Against 46. There were no abstentions.

Motion agreed to.

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Presiding Officer. You may be aware that several bills that apply to Scotland and deal with matters that will be devolved to this Parliament on 1 July are going through Westminster. Those bills include the Access to Justice Bill, the Health Bill, the Pollution Prevention and Control Bill and the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill; there may be others that I have not found out about.

I suspect that it is unlikely that those bills will all receive royal assent by 1 July. Has this matter been raised in the Parliamentary Bureau? Even if the content of those bills is innocuous-although I doubt that that is the case-surely it is setting a bad precedent for Westminster to legislate on matters that will be devolved to this assembly after 1 July and for it to continue to do so after 1 July.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

That matter has not yet been raised in the Parliamentary Bureau. If parties have concerns about it, I am sure that it will be raised in future.