Section 67 — Fees

Part of Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:15 am on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour 10:15 am, 8th March 2007

I begin my remarks with a general caveat: I hope that the minister will continue to monitor the impacts and the costs of this bill and other measures on organisations in the voluntary sector, which are undoubtedly in a vulnerable financial situation.

I do not doubt Adam Ingram's concern—which is shared by all members of the Education Committee—for the voluntary sector, but I was rather amused to hear an SNP front-bench spokesman, who cannot seem to add up to £11 billion, talking about the Executive having problems with its sums. However, I will get back to the subject of this debate.

As Donald Gorrie reminded us, volunteers all have their disclosure costs paid for them, as is right. However, the voluntary sector ranges widely from what might be described as professional organisations through to the most ad hoc groups. The people about whom we are talking are paid staff; they are in the voluntary sector but they are paid employees. I am not sure that there is any logic in treating paid staff in the voluntary sector any differently from paid staff in the statutory sector—I do not see why a social worker who works for a voluntary organisation that provides a statutory service should be treated any differently from a social worker who works for a statutory organisation such as a local authority.

It is important that organisations in the voluntary sector recover their costs, and they should do so through the usual mechanisms—through their contract with the local authorities, the health authorities or whatever.