Business Motions

– in the Scottish Parliament at 9:34 am on 19th March 2003.

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Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament 9:34 am, 19th March 2003

We come to consideration of business motion S1M-4039, in the name of Patricia Ferguson, which sets out a revised business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees—

(a) as a revision to the programme of business agreed on 13 March 2003— Wednesday 19 March 2003 delete—

"followed by Ministerial Statement" delete—

"5:00 pm Decision Time" and insert—

"6:00 pm Decision Time"

(b) the following programme of business— Wednesday 26 March 2003 9:30 am Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Executive Debate on the Scottish Economy followed by Members' Business - debate on the subject of S1M-3999 Dennis Canavan: Promotion for First Division Champions 2:30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 3 of Council of Law Society of Scotland Bill followed by Stage 3 of Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Bill followed by Final Stage of National Galleries of Scotland Bill followed by Stage 3 of Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill followed by Executive's Nominations to the European Economic and Social Committee followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 27 March 2003 9:30 am Executive Debate on Closing the Opportunity Gap for Older People followed by Members' Business 2:30 pm Question Time 3:10 pm First Minister's Question Time 3:30 pm Motion of Thanks to the Presiding Officer 4:00 pm Decision Time and (c) that the Justice 2 Committee reports to the Justice 1 Committee by 21 March 2003 on the Act of Sederunt (Fees of Solicitors in the Sheriff Court) (Amendment) 2003 (SSI 2003/162), the Advice and Assistance (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2003 (SSI 2003/163), the Police Grant (Scotland) Order 2003 (SSI 2003/172), the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2003 (SSI 2003/174), and the Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2003 (SSI 2003/178).—[Patricia Ferguson.]

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I oppose business motion S1M-4039 and, as the Scottish National Party did yesterday in the Parliamentary Bureau, I ask the Executive to make time available for a further debate on the international situation that we face.

Last Thursday, we had a good and thoughtful debate about the international situation, which focused on the dangers that we all fear in the days and weeks to come. A fair assessment of the debate would be that it hinged on the question of whether there would be United Nations endorsement for any form of military intervention at the end of the process of inspection by the UN weapons inspectors.

Many members made the point that their support for the Government's position, which was the position that prevailed, was predicated, and depended, on the existence of a second resolution that contained the authorisation for military action in Iraq. In his speech to the Parliament last Thursday, the First Minister said:

"Labour's amendment recognises the efforts of the UK Government to secure another resolution in the UN Security Council in advance of any military action that might be required."—[Official Report, 13 March; c 19433.]

His deputy, Cathy Jamieson, said:

"The Labour amendment reflects the view that a peaceful solution is still possible. It also reflects the fact that ... there must be scope for continuing negotiations."—[Official Report, 13 March; c 19491.]

Last Thursday, there was a very close vote on John McAllion's amendment on the question of whether the case for war was proven or unproven. The circumstances that the Scottish Parliament and other Parliaments across the world face today are dramatically different from the circumstances that we faced last Thursday. Since then, diplomacy has been abandoned and an ultimatum for military action has been given, but there has been no United Nations sanction for the military action that is proposed. The House of Commons has voted on the issue. Last night, although it voted in favour of military action, it did so with the largest rebellion on the Government benches in living memory.

Events have moved on. Given that we now know that the diplomatic route has been abandoned, that the United Nations has been shunned and that the British Government is determined to take the country to war, it is incumbent on the Scottish Parliament to ensure that it holds a debate on that situation.

In the past few days, we have heard about the deep regret that a Government minister feels for the way in which he exercised his vote last Thursday. Ministers and individuals are perfectly entitled to express their views. As Father McFadden has just explained to us, the threat of war causes fear among us all and puts the onus on us all to argue for peace as purposefully as we can. When it matters—on the eve of military action—it is incumbent on the Parliament to revisit the issue and to change today's business programme. We must guarantee that, before a shot is fired, the Parliament speaks clearly about whether it supports war or whether it argues for peace.

The case has been made for a fresh debate in the Parliament that allows the people of Scotland to hear the positions of the elected representatives in the Scottish Parliament and that gives members a chance, at this very late hour, to argue not for war, but for peace. I oppose the business motion.

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

Before I called Mr Swinney, I should have informed the chamber that I have accepted a request from the First Minister to make a statement on contingency planning for the current international situation. That statement will be made at half past 2, after lunch.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour 9:39 am, 19th March 2003

As members know, the Parliament has debated the Iraq situation on three occasions in recent times. The United Kingdom Parliament, which has responsibility for international matters, debated that important and grave issue as recently as last night. Our Scottish representatives at Westminster played their part in that debate and in exercising their votes. That is the right thing for them to have done.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

No.

There has been ample time for the democratically elected representatives in the Scottish Parliament to make known their views. As we saw last night, time has also been given in the Westminster Parliament

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

Why has further time not—

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

Order. Mr Sheridan, the member is not giving way, so you must sit down.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

The Executive recognises the importance of the matter and the gravity with which the matter is taken by the whole country and by the political parties and their members. Let me be clear that no one in this Parliament or elsewhere wants or supports war. We all want a peaceful solution. That peaceful solution is still possible, but it is up to Saddam Hussein to embrace that solution.

Because of the gravity of the situation, the First Minister has approached the Presiding Officer with a view to making a statement this afternoon on the contingency planning that the Executive is putting in place to cover those matters that lie within our responsibility. That step, which the First Minister will take on behalf of the Scottish Executive, is the correct way to proceed at this time.

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Before we vote, will you clarify whether debate will be allowed on the statement that the First Minister has requested to make? It is important that the Parliament should be aware that, of the three debates on the international situation that we have had, two were led by the SNP, one was led by the SSP, but none was led by the Executive. Will debate be allowed on the statement?

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

The procedure at 2.30 will be that a statement will be made, which will be followed by questions in the normal way.

I must put the question immediately to the chamber. The question is, that motion S1M-4039, on the business programme, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

My voting card is not working.

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

But I have tried again. Oh, it is working now. That is magic.

Division number 1

For: Aitken, Bill, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, 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, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeish, Henry, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Peacock, Peter, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McAllion, Mr John, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Sheridan, Tommy, Smith, Elaine, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Abstentions: Gorrie, Donald

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

The result of the division is: For 70, Against 34, Abstentions 1.

Motion agreed to.

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

The next business motion is the timetabling motion for stage 3 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Bill, which we will debate today and tomorrow.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I have given you notice of my point of order, which is to ask you to reflect on the number of amendments that have been submitted to the bill. We have had over 2,000 amendments in total, with over 500 amendments being submitted on the very last day for amendments at stage 3. I ask you to reflect on whether that is the way for the Parliament to make good legislation.

All the parties, especially those that are represented on the Health and Community Care Committee, have been hugely co-operative in trying to get the bill through, but I feel that it is my responsibility to say that we may not be doing our best with the bill because of the volume of amendments and the lack of time. I ask the Presiding Officer to reflect on whether the Procedures Committee might not have a role in ensuring that we are never again placed in the position of having to deal with so many amendments in so little time.

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

I thank the member for giving me notice of the point of order to allow me to consider it.

As members will know, in addition to some 1,200 amendments that were dealt with at stage 2, a total of 755 amendments have been lodged for stage 3. Of those, 480 are Executive amendments that were lodged on Friday, which was the final day for lodging amendments for today. Three other Executive amendments have since been accepted as manuscript amendments—one as late as this morning.

I am grateful to the Minister for Health and Community Care for his letter explaining the circumstances behind the lodging of those amendments. I understand that that letter has been copied to all the members of the Health and Community Care Committee. I accept, for example, that one amendment has resulted in 40 consequential amendments, but I remain concerned that members are being expected to consider a large number of technically complex amendments at such short notice. I have expressed those concerns to the minister.

However, as I said last week about the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Bill, there are lessons to be learned from the experience of our first parliamentary session. In the next session, it will be for the new Executive, the new Parliamentary Bureau, the new Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and the new Conveners Group to consider how to space legislation through the four years so that we do not have this logjam right at the end. That is the point that Shona Robison seeks to make, and I have some sympathy with it.

While I have the floor, the other point that I would make is that I expect there to be fewer votes on amendments to the bill that we are dealing with today than there were to the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Bill. The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Bill that we are dealing with today is highly technical and complex.

The Presiding Officers will operate in shifts throughout the next two days—the two Deputy Presiding Officers will be on this morning—so I appeal to members to give them the best of order. It is difficult for the Presiding Officers and members to ensure that we do not make any mistakes while the bill is going through, so conversations should take place in the coffee lounge, not in the chamber. Otherwise, we shall get a bit tetchy.

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

Further to that point of order, Presiding Officer. Let me say briefly that I understand people's concerns about the number of amendments and I accept that, in certain respects, we need to learn lessons and do better. However, to put the matter into context, people ought to realise that many of the amendments are the result of what I would regard as our superior legislative process—I say that as someone who has been at Westminster. Most of the substantive amendments have been lodged in response to points that the committee made, on which we undertook to lodge amendments. Many consequential amendments have had to be lodged because of changes made by the committee at stage 2.

The Presiding Officer has already referred to the fact that the committee changed the name of the bill, which involved 40 consequential amendments. I certainly apologise for the three amendments that were over time. However, one of those amendments was in response to an amendment that was supported by the Scottish Association for Mental Health. By lodging a further late amendment, I have tried to meet the association's concerns, which were reflected in an amendment that had been lodged by a member of the Health and Community Care Committee. I apologise for that, but in each case we tried to be responsive to the committee and the external lobbyists who had concerns about the bill.

I accept that we can do better, but people should also accept that part of the explanation is due to our more responsive and—I would argue, perhaps contentiously—superior legislative process.

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

I am grateful to the minister, who makes a perfectly fair point. The point that I have made is that, if we were not up against the end of the four-year parliamentary session, we would not need to deal with the bill in quite such the rush that we have today.

I now call on Euan Robson to move the timetabling motion.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees that, during Stage 3 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Bill, debate on each part of the proceedings shall be brought to a conclusion by the time-limits indicated (each time-limit being calculated from when the Stage begins and excluding any periods when other business is under consideration or when a meeting of the Parliament is suspended or otherwise not in progress)— Groups 1 to 4 - no later than 1 hour

Groups 5 to 11 - no later than 2 hours

Groups 12 to 18 - no later than 3 hours

Groups 19 to 24 - no later than 4 hours

Groups 25 to 33 - no later than 5 hours

Groups 34 to 45 - no later than 6 hours

Groups 46 to 57 - no later than 7 hours

Groups 58 to 67 - no later than 8 hours

Groups 68 and 69 - no later than 9 hours

Groups 70 to 81 - no later than 10 hours

Motion to pass the Bill - 10 hours and 30 minutes—[Euan Robson.]

Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat 9:48 am, 19th March 2003

I share the concerns that have been expressed about the rushed timetable and the speed at which the bill is being dealt with. Many people have worked hard on the bill. In an ideal society, we would halt our consideration of the bill now and resume that consideration in better circumstances after the election. However, that is probably not practicable. I propose that we should not accept the timetabling motion, but let the debate run on so that every issue can be properly debated. If necessary, we could find more time next week to cover the issues. To debate 750 amendments in two days is ridiculous. I urge members to vote against the timetabling motion.

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat

It is difficult to add to what has already been said by both the Presiding Officer and the minister. The bill is long awaited and widely supported. As members will know, the bill implements the Millan report, which received widespread praise in Scotland and abroad. Bodies such as the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, the Law Society of Scotland, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the National Schizophrenia Fellowship have campaigned long and hard for the legislation. It is important for us to make progress on the bill. The timetable, which gives five hours for consideration, is adequate.

I hope that members will accept the motion.

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

The question is, that motion S1M-4043, which is the timetabling motion for stage 3 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Bill, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 2

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Butler, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Grant, Rhoda, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGugan, Irene, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeish, Henry, McLeod, Fiona, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Neil, Alex, Peacock, Peter, Radcliffe, Nora, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Ullrich, Kay, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Canavan, Dennis, Fraser, Murdo, Gorrie, Donald, Mundell, David, Sheridan, Tommy

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

The result of the division is: For 94, Against 5, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to.