Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament at 4:49 pm on 15th June 2005.

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Photo of George Reid George Reid None 4:49 pm, 15th June 2005

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S2M-2962, in the name of Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees—

(a) the following programme of business— Wednesday 22 June 2005

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Member's Oath/Affirmation followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 1 Debate: Licensing (Scotland) Bill followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 23 June 2005

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Executive Debate: Review of Scottish Executive Financial Management 2004-05

11.40 am General Question Time 12 noon First Minister's Question Time

2.15 pm Themed Question Time— Finance and Public Services and Communities; Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport

2.55 pm Executive Debate: Legal Aid Reform followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Wednesday 29 June 2005

9.30 am Time for Reflection followed by Stage 1 Debate: Housing (Scotland) Bill followed by Financial Resolution: Housing (Scotland) Bill

2.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 3 Proceedings: Transport (Scotland) Bill followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 30 June 2005

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Finance Committee Debate: 2nd Report 2005, Cross-cutting Expenditure Review of Economic Development

11.40 am General Question Time 12 noon First Minister's Question Time

2.15 pm Themed Question Time— Health and Community Care; Environment and Rural Development

2.55 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 3 Proceedings: Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business and (b) that the period for members to submit their names for selection for General Question Time and Themed Question Time on 8 September 2005 should end at 12 noon on Wednesday 29 June 2005.—[Ms Margaret Curran.]

Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat 5:01 pm, 15th June 2005

I oppose the business motion because I believe that the Parliament should establish a policy that stage 3 debates on major bills get a full day—either a morning and an afternoon, or two afternoons, whichever is convenient. We repeatedly rush the stage 3 debates. Members get angry, but then they forget about it, so we should establish a proper policy.

The most recent example—the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Bill—was rushed through in a way that brought disgrace on the Parliament. That was the fault not of the minister, the Presiding Officer or anyone else, but of the system, which we must sort out. In that debate, only the minister spoke on many important amendments or, if another member had moved the lead amendment, only the minister and the mover spoke—virtually no other members got to speak. In the whole debate, only nine non-ministerial or non-mover speeches were made, which totalled less than 18 minutes. On the last 12 groups of amendments, nobody other than the minister and the mover of the lead amendment got to speak. That meant that there was no proper debate.

It is also useful to ministers to have amendments properly debated. At stage 2, ministers often give assurances that they will examine issues again if members withdraw or do not move certain amendments. Therefore, it is important to get on the record exactly what a minister's new amendment means, so that its good sense can be demonstrated, if it has good sense.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Will Donald Gorrie also note that cancelling the committee meetings on the last Wednesday before the recess has implications for the Government's business and the ability of committees to deliver it? Will he join me in hoping that the minister will be able to show us a way in which we can progress and do a proper job without affecting the work that the Parliament should do?

Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat

That is a fair point but, on the compression of stage 3, I say that there must be proper debates. We must encourage members who are not members of a lead committee to take part. At the moment, they do not try to participate, because they know that they will not be called; only one such member—Dennis Canavan—spoke in the stage 3 debate on the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Bill.

The people who decide on the timetabling for debates must take better advice on the length of time that a debate will take. They should take advice from the protagonists in the debate, who would be able to tell them that a certain issue would take half an hour to debate, that another would take 40 minutes and what issues are not so important.

The Parliament should seriously examine its policy on the length of stage 3 debates. The world being what it is, I might well lose the vote today, but I strongly urge those who decide such matters to get a grip on the issue, because the way in which we deal with stage 3 of bills brings us into serious disrepute.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

No, he is out of time.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour 5:04 pm, 15th June 2005

I thank Donald Gorrie for intimating to members that he was going to raise the issue today. As he might know, the matter was discussed by the Parliamentary Bureau this week and members on all sides and from all parties have expressed similar concerns to his. I pay considerable attention to the matter and I have been giving some thought to it. I assure Donald Gorrie and every other member that no minister wishes to have shortened debates. It is in ministers' best interests as well as in the interests of the Parliament and of the governance of Scotland that we have proper debates. I give the chamber a strong assurance that I will go to the utmost lengths to ensure that we adopt procedures to enable that to happen. I am sure that members will appreciate that a balance must be struck if we are to fulfil all the different commitments that face us. We should get the proper advice—as Donald Gorrie suggested—so that we properly timetable our business.

With your permission, Presiding Officer, I suggest that, in the short term, members do not join Donald Gorrie in opposing the business motion, although I understand what lies behind his opposition. We do not have time to address the issue in the short period that remains before the summer recess. In the longer term, I give Donald Gorrie and the Parliament the assurance that, in partnership with the other business managers, we will examine the processes that have brought about the frustration that members clearly feel. I have to take advice from bill teams and consider the legislative processes. I want to do so in some depth to ensure that, if we come to the Parliament with recommendations, we do so on a proper and, I hope, consensual footing.

I assure the Parliament that it is not in my interests—and I am not comfortable with doing it—to have to deal with members who are frustrated that they have not properly had their voice heard. I will need to keep various things balanced, but I certainly wish to proceed in a consensual way. I hope that I will have the opportunity to discuss the issue with key interests from across the Parliament and the Executive.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The question is, that motion S2M-2962, in the name of Margaret Curran, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 1

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Arbuckle, Mr Andrew, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, John, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McFee, Mr Bruce, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Peattie, Cathy, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robison, Shona, Robson, Euan, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Baird, Shiona, Ballard, Mark, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Curran, Frances, Gorrie, Donald, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, Kane, Rosie, Leckie, Carolyn, Munro, John Farquhar, Pringle, Mike, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scott, Eleanor, Swinburne, John, Turner, Dr Jean
Abstentions: MacDonald, Margo, Rumbles, Mike, Smith, Margaret

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The result of the division is: For 92, Against 16, Abstentions 3.

Motion agreed to.

That the Parliament agrees—

(a) the following programme of business— Wednesday 22 June 2005

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Member's Oath/Affirmation followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 1 Debate: Licensing (Scotland) Bill followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 23 June 2005

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Executive Debate: Review of Scottish Executive Financial Management 2004-05

11.40 am General Question Time 12 noon First Minister's Question Time

2.15 pm Themed Question Time— Finance and Public Services and Communities; Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport

2.55 pm Executive Debate: Legal Aid Reform followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Wednesday 29 June 2005

9.30 am Time for Reflection followed by Stage 1 Debate: Housing (Scotland) Bill followed by Financial Resolution: Housing (Scotland) Bill

2.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 3 Proceedings: Transport (Scotland) Bill followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 30 June 2005

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Finance Committee Debate: 2nd Report 2005, Cross-cutting Expenditure Review of Economic Development

11.40 am General Question Time 12 noon First Minister's Question Time

2.15 pm Themed Question Time— Health and Community Care; Environment and Rural Development

2.55 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 3 Proceedings: Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business and (b) that the period for members to submit their names for selection for General Question Time and Themed Question Time on 8 September 2005 should end at 12 noon on Wednesday 29 June 2005.