Parliamentary Bureau Motion

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:58 pm on 7 June 2007.

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Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat 2:58, 7 June 2007

I will raise what the Liberal Democrat group and, I think, other members regard as a vital issue in the context of setting up the committees, which, obviously, will not meet until the second last week of the parliamentary term. The Scottish National Party Government has announced no legislative programme to the Parliament, there has been no clarity on the budgetary implications of some of its highly populist decisions, and there have been no parliamentary debates on ministerial statements, other than a debate on which the SNP was assured of Opposition support. Furthermore, no committee has had the opportunity to examine ministers' plans or subject ministers to scrutiny. It is right that we should speedily establish committees, but it is also right that committees should have the opportunity to engage with cabinet secretaries and ministers on their policies and plans. Apart from anything else, if the committees do not have information or such engagement, it is difficult to see how they can work out their forward work programme. Therefore, their work might be wasted or irrelevant.

I seek an assurance from the Government's business manager that, if the committees decide at their first meetings that they require it, cabinet secretaries or ministers will be made available to appear before them in the week preceding recess. It is for the individual committees to request that if they want it, but Parliament is entitled to a categorical assurance from the Government. I am sure that the SNP's business manager will feel that it is his duty to Parliament to give such an assurance on a matter on which I have given him prior notice.