Parliamentary Bureau Motions

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:35 pm on 11th June 2003.

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Photo of George Reid George Reid None 2:35 pm, 11th June 2003

The next item of business is consideration of motion S2M-126 in the name of Patricia Ferguson, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a revised business programme, and an amendment to the motion.

As we do not usually have amendments to business motions, I will explain the procedure. Standing orders state that there can be only one speaker for and one against a business motion, and any amendment to that motion. Today, therefore, there will be three speakers. No one else may contribute to the debate. In accordance with rule 8.11.3 of standing orders, each of those three speakers will be permitted to speak for a maximum of five minutes.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees

(a) as a revision to the programme of business agreed on 5 June 2003— Wednesday 11 June 2003 after—

"followed by Stage 3 of the Education (School Meals) (Scotland) Bill" delete—

"followed by Final Stage of the Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Farm (Navigation and Fishing) (Scotland) Bill" and (b) the following programme of business— Wednesday 18 June 2003 2:30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Executive Debate on Patient Focus and Public Involvement in the NHS

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 19 June 2003 9:30 am Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Business followed by Business Motion 2:30 pm Question Time 3:10 pm First Minister's Question Time 3:30 pm Executive Debate on the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2003 followed by Motion on Health and Community Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill—UK Legislation followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Wednesday 25 June 2003 2:30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Landfill (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2003 followed by Urban Waste Water Treatment (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2003 followed by Motion on Fireworks Bill—UK Legislation followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 26 June 2003 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 Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Final Stage of Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Farm (Navigation and Fishing) (Scotland) Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business.—[Patricia Ferguson.]

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative 2:36 pm, 11th June 2003

Quite simply, this is an attempt to allow the Presiding Officer and the First Minister an opportunity to allay the considerable public disquiet that has arisen as a result of the most recent increase in the projected final costs of the Holyrood Parliament building.

Yesterday's events and the actions of the Presiding Officer and the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body have given some reassurance. At long last, someone appears to have some sort of grip on the issue, which is now seen by many as not only a national scandal, but an international embarrassment. However, a fuller statement would be useful.

It is generally accepted that it is not always possible to deal fully with such matters in any written statement, no matter how comprehensive it might be. Of greater concern, perhaps, is the fact that the First Minister has shown an uncharacteristic diffidence in letting us know his intentions.

During the election, in correspondence with Margo MacDonald, Mr McConnell said that there would be an inquiry. He quite properly described the issue as being the biggest failure of devolution so far. Since then, the First Minister's silence has been deafening and it is imperative that, as soon as is practicably possible, he comes before the Parliament and makes a full statement of his intentions.

In particular, he requires to answer the following questions. Who will carry out the inquiry? Will the inquiry be fully independent and public, presided over by a judge or other detached senior figure—as it should be—or will it be carried out by MSPs, who do not have the expertise and who, depending on their political stance, might be accused either of a cover up or of grandstanding?

To whom will the inquiry report? Will it report to the Parliament or to the Executive? Will a sanitised version of the report be published, or will it be published in full?

Will the inquiry have the powers to compel witnesses to give evidence? In particular, it is vital that if the inquiry seeks to cite Scotland Office civil servants and former and present Westminster Government ministers, it should have powers to demand their attendance.

Will the inquiry have powers to demand sight of all relevant documents or is there a danger that, under the blanket of commercial confidentiality, the whole facts of this debacle might not emerge? Will freedom of information—a matter so publicly punted by the Deputy First Minister—apply in this case?

When will the inquiry begin and what is the estimate of its duration? Will it concentrate on the events and decisions that were taken prior to the establishment of the Scottish Parliament? Although hard and serious question must be asked of those charged with running the project, and especially of the progress group, there are indications that the initial decisions that were taken between 1997 and 1999 doomed the project to catastrophe.

Will the First Minister tell us which school or hospital capital project now cannot proceed as a result of this massive overspend?

There is sometimes a change in the public mood that politicians fail to recognise at their peril. Such a change has now taken place, after the events of last week. The final straw to break the camel's back was the most recent increase. There is real anger now about this entire farce, and it is incumbent upon the First Minister in particular to do his best to resolve matters speedily. The public are no longer saying—as I have heard said in this place—that the cost is immaterial as long as we have a building to be proud of. The fact is that the public mood of the people of Scotland today is such that they would not care if the building were a latter-day Taj Mahal surrounded by the gardens of Babylon. They want the project to be completed at minimal additional cost, and they want to know who is responsible for its disastrous handling.

The First Minister must act. He must make a statement to the Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity, in order that we can at last begin to move on. The purpose of the amendment to the motion is to enable the First Minister to do so.

Accordingly, I move amendment S2M-126.1, after—

"followed by Final Stage of the Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Farm (Navigation and Fishing) (Scotland) Bill" insert—

"Thursday 12 June 2003" delete—

"3:30 pm Executive Debate on Investing in Public Transport" and insert—

"3:30 pm Statement by the Presiding Officer on Increased Costs of the Holyrood Building Project 4:00 pm Statement by the First Minister on Inquiry into the Holyrood Building Project."

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party 2:41 pm, 11th June 2003

I rise to oppose the business motion on behalf of the SNP. At yesterday's Parliamentary Bureau meeting, I made our position quite clear: we want Parliament to have the opportunity to hear the First Minister make a statement on the proposed inquiry into the Holyrood project, and for questions to be put.

But why is it vital to secure a statement on the inquiry? On 16 April, John Swinney was quoted in The Herald as saying that we need "a no-holds-barred" public inquiry. Just four days later, Jack McConnell said in Scotland on Sunday:

"There must be a full public investigation into the process from beginning to end".

Yet here we are, a full 42 days later, and still we do not know the nature or form that the inquiry will take. Bill Aitken alluded to the many questions that require to be answered. Who will lead the inquiry? What will the investigation team look like, if there is going to be one? What will its remit be? Will it be a UK-wide investigation? What access to information will there be? When will it start? What is the target date for completion? Vitally, will it be a full, open, public inquiry? How independent will it be? Will it be judiciary-led? Will issues of the design and architecture from the past form part of the inquiry?

To date, instead of the First Minister making the Executive's position clear, we get spin doctors' statements. For instance, The Scotsman stated on 27 May that sources close to Jack McConnell said that he

"was keen to launch the inquiry 'sooner rather than later'".

Only today, we see spokespersons from the Scottish Executive suggesting that MSPs should take part in the process, led by some sort of eminent person. I tell the chamber that it would be wholly inadequate if MSPs were to be involved in that process.

In place of clarity we get rumour and misinformation. It is time for the confusion to be ended. It is time for the First Minister to make a statement to the Parliament. It is time to put an end to spin and smoke and mirrors. Forty-two days after the First Minister called for a full public investigation, the Parliament deserves to know what he intends; more important, the people of Scotland deserve to know what he intends.

It is time for the Parliament to exert its influence over the nature, extent and timing of the inquiry. The matter needs to be resolved. We need to find out a number of things. Why have we been landed with the type of contract that we have? What has been the role of the civil service and ministers in London and Edinburgh with regard to the contract? Why is it that costs have been able to rise with such apparent ease? What more could have been done to keep costs down? Has the contractor acted fairly and have the advisers given proper information and done their job properly? Many, many questions need answered before Scotland can move on and begin to put all this behind it. Parliament can help to begin that healing process today by rejecting the business motion and asking the Parliamentary Bureau to reschedule business to enable a statement from the First Minister on the public inquiry. The people of Scotland expect the matter to be resolved. If the First Minister is not prepared to volunteer a statement, the Parliament should demand it.

I support the amendment to the motion.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour 2:45 pm, 11th June 2003

In the first instance, it is worth pointing out that neither the Scottish National Party nor the Conservative Party share a monopoly of concern about the news that we all received last week on the Holyrood project. Given that the Conservatives have until now refused to be involved in the Holyrood progress group, it is a little rich of them to say what they did. Since day 1 however, along with the other major parties in the chamber, the Conservatives have been part of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. It is worth drawing to the attention of Conservative members that it is the corporate body that is responsible for the building project.

I must also point out that it is a matter for the Presiding Officer whether he wishes to make a statement on behalf of the corporate body to the chamber. The Executive would be happy to facilitate such a statement, should a request be made.

Tomorrow's business includes Scottish Executive and First Minister's question time. The Presiding Officer has selected a question from my colleague Janis Hughes on the inquiry that is proposed by the First Minister. I am sure that my colleague Mr McConnell will take the opportunity to outline in as much detail as he can what is proposed. I suggest that First Minister's question time is the correct vehicle for that.

Transport is an issue of great public concern and we do not wish to delete it from the business programme, particularly as the item of business that the Opposition wishes to delete from the business programme comes after the First Minister's answer to Ms Hughes's question. For those reasons, it seems entirely inappropriate to change the business motion.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The question is, that amendment S2M-126.1, in the name of Bill Aitken, which seeks to amend motion S2M-126, in the name of Patricia Ferguson, on Parliamentary business, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 1

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Frances, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Fox, Colin, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Mr Rob, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Kane, Rosie, Leckie, Carolyn, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Martin, Campbell, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Mr Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, McFee, Mr Bruce, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Robison, Shona, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Welsh, Mr Andrew
Against: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Mr Richard, Ballance, Chris, Ballard, Mark, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Harper, Robin, 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, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McMahon, 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, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Mr Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Swinburne, John, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Tosh, Murray

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The result of the division is: For 44, Against 70, Abstentions 1.

Amendment disagreed to.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

I call Margo MacDonald to raise the point of order that I think she wanted to raise during the division.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The member has made her point. It will be noted in the Official Report .

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

But I wanted to abstain—I do not agree with any of them.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

In that case, I am sure that the chamber will agree that the number of abstentions can go up from one to two.

The second question is, that motion S2M-126, in the name of Patricia Ferguson, on Parliamentary business, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 2

For: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Mr Richard, Ballard, Mark, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Harper, Robin, 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, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McMahon, 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, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Mr Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Swinburne, John, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Frances, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Fox, Colin, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Rob, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Kane, Rosie, Leckie, Carolyn, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Martin, Campbell, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Mr Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, McFee, Mr Bruce, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Robison, Shona, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Tosh, Murray, Welsh, Mr Andrew
Abstentions: Ballance, Chris, MacDonald, Margo

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The result of the division is: For 69, Against 46, Abstentions 2.

Motion agreed to.

That the Parliament agrees

(a) as a revision to the programme of business agreed on 5 June 2003— Wednesday 11 June 2003 after—

"followed by Stage 3 of the Education (School Meals) (Scotland) Bill" delete—

"followed by Final Stage of the Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Farm (Navigation and Fishing) (Scotland) Bill" and (b) the following programme of business— Wednesday 18 June 2003 2:30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Executive Debate on Patient Focus and Public Involvement in the NHS

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 19 June 2003 9:30 am Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Business followed by Business Motion 2:30 pm Question Time 3:10 pm First Minister's Question Time 3:30 pm Executive Debate on the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2003 followed by Motion on Health and Community Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill—UK Legislation followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Wednesday 25 June 2003 2:30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Landfill (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2003 followed by Urban Waste Water Treatment (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2003 followed by Motion on Fireworks Bill—UK Legislation followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 26 June 2003 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 Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Final Stage of Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Farm (Navigation and Fishing) (Scotland) Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions 5:00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The next item of business is consideration of motion S2M-129, in the name of Patricia Ferguson, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a timetable for today's stage 2 and stage 3 consideration of the Education (School Meals) (Scotland) Bill.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees that, during Stages 2 and 3 of the Education (School Meals) (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 Stage 2 begins)— Stage 2 Group 1—no later than 45 minutes

Group 2—no later than 1 hour 20 minutes

Groups 3 and 4—no later than 1 hour 55 minutes Stage 3 Motion to pass the Bill—no later than 2 hours 25 minutes.—[Patricia Ferguson.]

Motion agreed to.

[Meeting closed at 14:50.]