Public Appointments and Public Bodies etc (Scotland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:33 pm on 5th February 2003.

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Photo of Peter Peacock Peter Peacock Labour 4:33 pm, 5th February 2003

As is usual at this point in the stage 3 debate, I will thank the clerks to the Local Government Committee, who have worked extremely hard to help the bill through the process, as they have with many bills during the session. I thank the committee convener and the members of the committee, with whom I generally have a very constructive relationship. I hope that we have made real progress with the legislation. I also thank the many people who have responded over many months to consultations on the bill.

In particular, I thank my officials in the Executive bill team, who have worked extremely hard, too. They have helped me through a great many of the complications of the various provisions. I place on record my thanks to them—if they are still around later tonight, I will be happy to buy them a drink. That invitation extends to the officials and members of the committee, not to the whole Parliament. Opposition members are welcome to come along. Genuinely, I want to thank those people for what they have done.

As always, the processes of the Parliament have, as a consequence of the committee system and the scrutiny that takes place, led to the bill being better than when it was introduced. We have genuinely moved the bill forward.

I welcome the constructive comments that members of all parties have made about where the bill takes us. As I have tried to make clear throughout the passage of the bill—I have done so again today—the bill is part of a range of measures that the Executive has initiated to improve the operation of public life in Scotland.

I am sorry to be a bit dispiriting at this point, but, contrary to what the SNP says, the bill was not introduced in response to anything that it said or did in relation to our comprehensive approach. I am glad to tell Alex Neil that the Executive consultation on the prospect of a commissioner started in February 2000, whereas his bill, which was a spoiling bill, was introduced in September 2001—a full 20 months behind the pace.