Section 16 — Authorisations

Part of Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:45 am on 17th June 2004.

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Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour 11:45 am, 17th June 2004

No. Bill Aitken had his time.

Michael Howard was not heard to excuse antisocial behaviour as a rite of passage, so Mr McLetchie might be in bother with the higher ranks of the Tories, given what he has said. The Tory members have to explain why their party thinks that it is okay to give the powers to communities in England and Wales, but not to communities in Scotland; 2007 is a date that lingers for the Tories too.

Mike Rumbles talked about evidence. He should remember that USDAW gave evidence that it strongly supported the power of dispersal. As Colin Fox said, of course we have to listen to the evidence that is presented to committees, but we reserve the right to disagree with it. As we try to modernise and change Scotland, somewhere along the line we will have to disagree with professionals. We have to represent communities and get professionals to respond to changing circumstances. The fundamental question for today is whose side we are on. The power of dispersal is proportionate and means that we will take action in communities that have to date been abandoned.

It is not just about the dispersal power; it is about the actions that are consequent on that power. Why have certain agencies left those communities with no place to go to complain except their MSPs? Why have the police not answered the calls to deal with the plight of those communities? On that point, I say to Patrick Harvie that I have never met a police officer who would not obey the will of an elected Parliament. If we pass this dispersal power today, I have a categorical assurance that the police will implement it.

I ask the Parliament to say fundamentally whose side it is on. Members should be on the side of the victims of antisocial behaviour and should line up to ensure that we have the courage of our convictions and start solving the problems arising from antisocial behaviour in Scotland instead of displaying the complacency and defeatism that has marked the arguments of the Opposition in this debate.