Point of Order

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 9th March 2006.

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Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I gave notice of my intention to raise a point of order on the Glasgow housing stock transfer.

On Tuesday, at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference, the Minister for Communities announced:

"The fact that there will not be 63 second stage transfers is widely recognised, including among Glasgow's local housing associations."

That was news to me. It was also news to the chair of the CIH, which is the body that represents housing professionals. Today, the chair of the CIH said:

"The minister's announcement on Tuesday came as a surprise. We knew there were challenges ... but I do not think that anyone was expecting to be told that the 63 second stage transfers will not be going ahead."

The minister's speech represents a departure from the position that ministers have repeated in the chamber. In November, the First Minister said:

"we did not encourage the establishment of the Glasgow Housing Association, support enthusiastically the transfer of ownership and put so much money into the venture simply to see one large organisation replaced by another ... We want local housing organisations to own and manage houses and have responsibility for them so that people have maximum control".—[Official Report, 3 November 2005; c 20338.]

Also in November, the Minister for Communities, who has responsibility for housing, said:

"Our commitment to second-stage transfer and to devolving power to local communities remain absolute."—[Official Report, 24 November 2005; c 21157.]

Presiding Officer, do you agree that the minister's speech represents a substantial change in policy by the Scottish Executive and that it breaches the Parliament's protocol on when statements should be made in this place? Do you also agree that any announcement should have been made first to the Parliament to allow members to question the minister on the issues that surround second-stage transfer in Glasgow? Do you agree that it was discourteous in the extreme for the minister not to come first to the chamber?

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

You have made your point in some detail and, in so doing, put it on the record. Neither the Minister for Communities nor the Deputy Minister for Communities is in the chamber. The point is essentially one for the Executive to consider. Ministers will no doubt read the Official Report and take note of what you have said at some length. If you are asking for a statement to be made, you can raise the matter through the normal channels at the Parliamentary Bureau.