Section 23 — Code of practice and directions

Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:45 pm on 1st April 2004.

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Amendment 71 moved—[Ms Rosemary Byrne].

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The question is, that amendment 71 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 31

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Baird, Shiona, Ballance, Chris, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Fox, Colin, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Rob, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Johnstone, Alex, Kane, Rosie, Leckie, Carolyn, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Martin, Campbell, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, McFee, Mr Bruce, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Neil, Alex, Robison, Shona, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, John, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinburne, John, Swinney, Mr John, Tosh, Murray, Welsh, Mr Andrew
Against: Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, 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, Gorrie, Donald, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Margaret, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, 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, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The result of the division is: For 51, Against 60, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 71 disagreed to.

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

Group 15 is on the code of conduct. Amendment 52, in the name of Rosemary Byrne, is in a group on its own. I ask the member to be brief.

Photo of Ms Rosemary Byrne Ms Rosemary Byrne SSP

Amendment 52 seeks to ensure that the code of practice has a legal foundation through the affirmative procedure. During today's proceedings, there have been many references to the fact that aspects of the bill will go into the code of practice. The code started out as a set of guidelines but, during the committee stages, we saw the importance of the document and it became a code of practice. Many witnesses have been told that that their concerns will be dealt with through the code. Indeed, there has been so much reference to the code that I feel that it is essential that it is embedded in law through the affirmative procedure.

I was disappointed that the minister's amendment at stage 2 did not go as far as my amendment goes. I believe that I am not the only member who was under the impression that Peter Peacock was going to do what amendment 52 seeks to do. In committee, Dr Murray stated:

"The code of practice will be important for interpreting the bill."—[Official Report, Education Committee, 17 December 2003; c 576.]

She asked for more information about the consultation mechanism—which the committee welcomed—and went on to ask what the code's status would be. I could read out many more quotes from committee proceedings, but I have been asked to be quick.

Unless we can embed the code of practice in law through the affirmative procedure, it will not be worth the paper on which it is written. The code will be the guiding influence on the bill's implementation. All the areas of concern that witnesses raised have been dumped into the code instead of being included in the bill. That was a trick that was cleverly done, but we have now to catch up with it. I ask members to support my amendment.

I move amendment 52.

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

Amendment 52 makes it clear that the code of practice should be approved by the Parliament by affirmative resolution. The matters concerned are of great complexity and concern to children, parents, carers and teachers. Surely it is right that the Parliament should be fully involved and informed in a proactive way about matters of such sensitivity.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I, too, support amendment 52, which is an essential amendment. The evidence that the committee received and the representations that were made were that so much will be reliant on the code of practice that it would be wrong to leave it as a negative instrument; it must go forward by the affirmative resolution procedure. Indeed, at one point, the minister acknowledged the possibility that, in effect, the Parliament's consideration of the bill will have drawn up the content of the code of practice, so the Parliament would be well placed to consider the code if it came before the Parliament as an affirmative instrument. It is essential for that to happen, particularly when we bear in mind the fact that the bill is so dependent on the code of practice.

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat

Amendment 52 is too inflexible and it is unnecessary. At stage 2, we introduced amendments to section 23, which provided specifically for consultation on the draft code of practice with education authorities, appropriate agencies and others. The Parliament will have 40 days in which to consider and offer comments on the draft code. Before they proceed to publish the code, ministers must take account of the views that were expressed by the Parliament.

The intention behind the amendments to section 23 is to provide a wide range of people who have an interest in the system with the opportunity to contribute. We want to ensure an effective document. Our intention is for the code to be shaped by the views of as wide a range of interests as possible, particularly by the views of those who work with the code—parents, young people and front-line practitioners.

I believe that we have got the right balance in enabling the Parliament to scrutinise and comment on the code without adopting the more rigid approach that a formal resolution of the Parliament would entail. I ask members to oppose amendment 52.

Photo of Ms Rosemary Byrne Ms Rosemary Byrne SSP

Again, I do not feel that the minister is getting the point that members are making. I welcome the consultation that has been provided on the code of practice. I welcome everything else that was included in the Executive's stage 2 amendment, but that does not take away from the fact that we need to have the affirmative procedure. It is important that members support my amendment. I will press amendment 52.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The question is, that amendment 52 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 32

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Baird, Shiona, Ballance, Chris, Ballard, Mark, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Fox, Colin, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Rob, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Kane, Rosie, Leckie, Carolyn, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Martin, Campbell, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, McFee, Mr Bruce, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Neil, Alex, Robison, Shona, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, John, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinburne, John, Swinney, Mr John, Tosh, Murray, Welsh, Mr Andrew
Against: Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, 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, Gorrie, Donald, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Margaret, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, 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, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The result of the division is: For 53, Against 60, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 52 disagreed to.