– in the Scottish Parliament at 5:08 pm on 27th June 2007.
On a point of order, Presiding Officer. The point is in light of the decision that was taken on motion S3M-243. As you are aware, the former First Minister Donald Dewar wrote to my colleague Bruce Crawford on 4 October 1999 in the following terms:
"As part of" the
"perfectly normal constitutional arrangements, except in certain circumstances, the Scottish Executive is not necessarily bound by resolutions or motions passed by the Scottish Parliament."
There has been an extensive debate on the Edinburgh trams and Edinburgh airport rail link projects, to which the Government has listened carefully. Mindful of the extent to which those projects are committed and of the level of public expenditure that has already been committed to the trams project, I confirm to Parliament that the Government will accept and implement the provisions in the resolution that has been agreed by Parliament in relation to the Edinburgh trams project. We welcome the fact that Parliament has agreed to a commitment that the project must be delivered
"within the budget limit set by the previous administration, noting that it is the responsibility of Transport Initiatives Edinburgh and the City of Edinburgh Council to meet the balance of the funding costs".
I also put on record that the Government will pursue the terms of the resolution in relation to the Edinburgh airport rail link. I will return to Parliament with further work on that in the autumn.
I make it clear on behalf of the Government that not in all circumstances will we be able to take the—[Interruption.]
I make it clear to the Parliament, on behalf of the whole Government, that it will not be on every occasion that we are in a position to accept the views of Parliament, for a variety of particular reasons. However, on this occasion, we believe that it is appropriate to accede to the will of Parliament. The Government will respect the terms of the motion that has just been passed.
On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Although I welcome that assurance from the cabinet secretary, I seek your guidance on whether what has happened will be normal
An important precedent has been set here. In reporting properly to Parliament, the Executive ought at least to offer an opportunity for people to know in advance what is going to happen, and an opportunity for further debate. Therefore—[ Interruption. ]
Thank you, Presiding Officer. I hope that you will reflect on this matter and will seek to avoid such situations in future.
Members will be aware that I am obliged to take a point of order, no matter what its content is. I will reflect on what Cathy Jamieson has said.
Further to that point of order, Presiding Officer. During the ministerial statement, Labour members took exception to the fact that the Government has arranged a media briefing for 5.15 on this issue. I put on record that I felt that it was courteous to tell Parliament before I told the media.
I note that point and again I say to members that if a member stands up to make a point of order, I am obliged to take that point of order before determining whether it is a valid point of order.
On a point of order. Presiding Officer. I would be grateful if you could come back to the chamber at some stage to say what you understand the purpose of the summing-up at the end of a debate to be. Would it not be sensible for a member to say, when summing up, what they intend to do if they lose the vote?
The content of members' contributions is nothing to do with the person sitting in this chair.
On a point of order, Presiding Officer. If Mr Swinney and his colleagues are going to have a media briefing, perhaps they will take with them a full copy of the letter from the late Donald Dewar to Bruce Crawford. Further on in the letter, it says:
"If the Scottish Parliament wishes to impose a duty or function upon the Scottish Ministers, then the way to do that is by enacting legislation to that effect."
I thought that we had done that with the Edinburgh rail and tram bills in the previous session of Parliament. The Scottish National Party should consider that. We have just had a debate that has been a waste of time. Parliament had already decided what action should be taken.
I take your point, and I am sure that the cabinet secretary will be grateful for a full copy of that letter.