Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament at 4:43 pm on 5th September 2001.

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Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament 4:43 pm, 5th September 2001

The next item of business is consideration of Parliamentary Bureau motions, the first of which is the business motion set out in the business bulletin. I call Tom McCabe to move motion S1M-2172, which details the proposed business for the next two weeks.

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour 4:54 pm, 5th September 2001

The business motion proposes that we alter the business that was scheduled for tomorrow to allow us to consider emergency legislation concerning tolling on the Erskine bridge. If the Parliament agrees to the motion, we will be able to complete the passage of the bill in one day, on Thursday of this week.

The proposed business programme still allows a minimum of one and a half hours for a debate on the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Committee's report on the new economy. The convener of that committee was consulted and is content with the proposal.

Further to that, the motion sets out the business for the next two weeks. There are two key changes. First, the debate on education that was set for tomorrow will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 20 September. The second change is fairly substantial. The debate on stage 1 of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill will now take place on Wednesday 19 September.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees—

(a) as a revision to the Business Programme agreed on 28 June 2001— Thursday 6 September 2001 delete all for that day, and insert—

9.30 am Debate on an Executive Motion to treat the Erskine Bridge Tolls Bill as an Emergency Bill followed by, no

later than 10.30 am Stage 1 Debate on the Erskine Bridge Tolls Bill followed by, no

later than 11.30 am Enterprise and Lifelong

Learning Committee Debate on its report on the New Economy followed by Financial Resolution in respect of the Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Bill

2.30 pm Question Time

3.10 pm First Minister's Question Time

3.30 pm Committee of the Whole Parliament: Stage 2 Debate on the Erskine Bridge Tolls Bill followed by, no

later than 4.30 pm Stage 3 Debate on the Erskine Bridge Tolls Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business - debate on the subject of S1M-1964 Helen Eadie: Centenary of Donibristle Pit Disaster

(b) the following programme of business— Wednesday 12 September 2001

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 3 Debate on the International Criminal Court (Scotland) Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business - debate on the subject of S1M-2066 Mary Scanlon: Men's Health Week, Scotland: 7-14 September 2001 Thursday 13 September 2001

9.30 am Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Business followed by Ministerial Statement followed by Business Motion

2.30 pm Question Time

3.10 pm First Minister's Question Time

3.30 pm Executive Debate on Physical Chastisement of Children followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business - debate on the subject of S1M-2119 Paul Martin: Asylum Seekers Wednesday 19 September 2001

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 1 Debate on the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 20 September 2001

9.30 am Executive Business followed by Business Motion

2.30 pm Question Time

3.10 pm First Minister's Question Time

3.30 pm Executive Debate on Investment in Education followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business

(c) that Stage 1 of the Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill be completed by 16 November 2001; and

(d) that the Rural Development Committee reports to the Health and Community Care Committee by 21 September 2001 on the Specified Risk Material Amendment (No. 3) (Scotland) Regulations 2001 (SSI 2001/288) and the Justice 2 Committee reports to the Justice 1 Committee by 21 September 2001 on the draft Criminal Legal Aid (Scotland) (Prescribed Proceedings) Amendment Regulations 2001 and the draft Advice and Assistance (Assistance by Way of Representation) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 3) Regulations 2001.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party 4:55 pm, 5th September 2001

I oppose motion S1M-2172 for two reasons. The first is simple. In managing business, the demands of party conferences should be reflected. Democratic policy making may currently be the preserve of the SNP, but such demands should be reflected and we are disappointed that they could not be accommodated.

The second reason is more important. Parliament's job is to champion the democratic integrity of our new constitutional framework. The Executive has let itself and the Parliament down with the Erskine bridge affair and the shambles with which the Parliament has been presented, but more important, it has let the people down. We have just seen the bill today. Rule 9.21 of standing orders makes it clear that there is no definition of emergency bills—it is for the Executive to present its definition of an emergency bill.

I have serious concerns. We must ensure that the message gets across that we cannot allow a Government that is caught out acting illegally simply to rush through legislation that retrospectively conveys legitimacy on the initial illegality—that is neither responsible nor democratic and it is a bad precedent to set in the Parliament. We should not endorse a rewriting of history.

Collecting money from travellers illegally is highway robbery—at one time, it resulted in capital punishment. Whether heads will roll in this instance is a matter for later, but we cannot afford to allow Parliament's democracy to be hijacked to rewrite history. The Government has come up with a procedure, cap in hand before the Parliament, and asked us to adopt it. The procedure would hijack democracy and we oppose the motion on that basis.

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour 4:57 pm, 5th September 2001

A number of points have been made. On party conferences, Fiona Hyslop and other SNP members are aware that we made fairly substantial efforts to try to accommodate the beginning of the SNP conference on the afternoon in question. However, there are other substantial reasons behind the proposals.

The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill has spent a considerable amount of time in committee—the longest time, I think, that any proposed legislation has spent in committee before the stage 1 principles have been debated in Parliament. We are acutely aware of that. We have tried our best to secure the stage 1 debate in the chamber as soon as possible after the committee report. If 19 September is missed, there will be other party conferences and an October recess, so it would be likely that the stage 1 debate could not take place until late October or early November. That is not in the chamber's best interests nor would it lead to proper consideration of the bill. We are attempting to bring a long-considered bill to the chamber as soon as possible.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I acknowledge that agreement was sought and we thought that it had been achieved. We were clear about the need to move forward and we managed to get some agreement on that. We appreciate the work of all the business managers; however, agreement was not finally achieved and we are against the motion on that basis.

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour

I acknowledge Fiona Hyslop's remarks, but I want to record something in the Official Report . Anyone listening to the debate could have construed that the Executive was somehow steamrollering the bill on to the floor of the chamber—although that was not perhaps the member's intention. We engaged in discussions and tried to proceed in a different way.

The Erskine bridge situation was far from being a shambles. Administrative errors crop up in every Parliament and have to be dealt with. The minister in charge of the bill has fully acknowledged that the situation is deeply unfortunate, but the bill is a reflection of Parliament's ability to deal with such situations speedily and hastily. That is a compliment to Parliament and its processes and should not be criticised.

Rule 9.21 of the standing orders does not indicate a deficit in the democratic procedures of the Parliament. It is for the Executive to promote emergency legislation, but it is for the Parliament to agree the motion that is before it today. If the Parliament does not do that the Executive will have to think again. I am confident that the chamber will see the logic of what we propose.

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

I have to put the question to the chamber right away.

The question is, that motion S1M-2172—the business motion—in the name of Mr McCabe, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 1

For: Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Young, John
Against: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Hyslop, Fiona, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra

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

The result of the division is: For 78, Against 30, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to.