Business Motion

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:56 pm on 4th September 2003.

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Photo of Elaine Smith Elaine Smith Labour 4:56 pm, 4th September 2003

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I am sorry that I did not give advance notice of this point of order. However, at question time, I was rather confused about a comment that the Presiding Officer made when he seemed to indicate that the First Minister should be careful of straying into reserved areas.

As a Parliamentarian who speaks and writes on a range of issues, I would like that to be clarified. I understand that the Scotland Act 1998 and the Parliament's standing orders allow individual MSPs, the Scottish Parliament and the Executive to discuss, debate and take a position on reserved issues. We have had such debates in members' business and have taken positions in debates such as those on the act of settlement and the Iraq war.

It is clearly the prerogative of the Executive to choose whether it takes a position on such issues, unless the Parliament votes and instruct the Executive to do so. We cannot change the law on reserved issues, but I understand that we can seek to influence it. It is important that we should know our rights as Parliamentarians in the interests of democracy in the Parliament.

Will the Presiding Officer clarify standing orders with regard to reserved issues? I do not believe that they call for our silence on reserved issues.