Good morning. The first item of business is consideration of business motion S2M-5285, in the name of Margaret Curran, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a timetable for stage 3 consideration of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill.
That the Parliament agrees that, during Stage 3 of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill, debate on groups of amendments shall, subject to Rule 9.8.4A, be brought to a conclusion by the time limit indicated, that time limit being calculated from when the Stage begins and excluding any periods when other business is under consideration or when the meeting of the Parliament is suspended, other than a suspension following the first division in the Stage in the morning and afternoon being called, or otherwise not in progress:
Groups 1 to 5: 1 hour 5 minutes Group 6: 1 hour 50 minutes Groups 7 to 10: 2 hours 20 minutes Groups 11 to 17: 3 hours 5 minutes Groups 18 to 20: 3 hours 25 minutes.—[Ms Margaret Curran.]
On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I do not wish to oppose the business motion, but I wish to make a point of order. There has been insufficient time between the grouping of amendments and stage 3 consideration. The timescale was little more than one full day. Given the many issues of complexity arising from the bill, there is a substantial risk that, with such a short timescale, parliamentarians could miss points of real importance.
I do not wish to make too much of the issue today, as we seek to improve the bill as much as possible before its likely enactment, but I understand that the Procedures Committee is likely to review the matter. If the timescales remain as tight as this, there is a danger that mistakes will be made and that the Parliament will have to revisit the subject with further legislation as soon as the eventual act is reviewed. With more time to consider amendments before a bill's final stage, it is more likely that we can get it dead right.
I thank Lord James for indicating to me that he was going to raise his point of order, with which I have some sympathy. He will know that we consulted all the business managers on the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill. We do our very best to allow the maximum time. The Executive is giving attention to the principle that Lord James has raised. Obviously, we want to maximise the opportunities for members to scrutinise proposed legislation over the appropriate time. We will be examining that in both the short term and the longer term.