Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 5th September 2007.

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Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None 2:30 pm, 5th September 2007

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S3M-412, in the name of Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees the following programme of business— Wednesday 5 September 2007

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Business Motion followed by Member's Affirmation: Shirley-Anne Somerville followed by First Minister's Statement: The Scottish Government's Programme followed by Scottish Government Debate: The Scottish Government's Programme followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 6 September 2007

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Ministerial Statement: Foot and Mouth Outbreak followed by Scottish Government Debate: Tackling Drugs Misuse

11.40 am General Question Time 12 noon First Minister's Question Time

2.15 pm Themed Question Time— Justice and Law Officers; Finance and Sustainable Growth

2.55 pm Scottish Government Debate: A Sustainable Future for Crichton University Campus followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Wednesday 12 September 2007

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Scottish Government Debate: The Government's Skills Strategy followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 13 September 2007

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Scottish Labour Party Business

11.40 am General Question Time 12 noon First Minister's Question Time

2.15 pm Themed Question Time— Europe, External Affairs and Culture; Education and Lifelong Learning

2.55 pm Ministerial Statement: Broadcasting

3.50 pm Ministerial Statement: National Developments in Planning followed by Debate on the draft Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (Variation of Age Limit for Sale of Tobacco etc. and Consequential Modifications) Order 2007 followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Wednesday 19 September 2007

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Scottish Government Business followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 20 September 2007

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Scottish Government Business

11.40 am General Question Time 12 noon First Minister's Question Time

2.15 pm Themed Question Time— Health and Wellbeing; Rural Affairs and the Environment

2.55 pm Scottish Government Business followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business—[Bruce Crawford.]

Photo of Iain Smith Iain Smith Liberal Democrat 2:34 pm, 5th September 2007

It is with regret that I speak against the business motion. In particular, I regret the contempt that the new Scottish National Party Administration is showing toward Parliament by allowing only one hour 25 minutes to debate its entire programme for Government. The SNP either has no confidence that its programme will stand up to scrutiny, or there is so little in it that it does not need much time—or, indeed, both.

Members should contrast that with the record of the previous Administrations, which allowed extensive debates on their programmes for government and legislative programmes. The debate on the programme for government in 1999 was more than four and a half hours long and, after the 2003 election, the debate extended over two days. Separate annual statements and debates on the legislative programme were held each year, all of which exceeded the time that the present Administration has allocated for both the legislative programme and the programme for government.

This week, we are being offered two hours and five minutes tomorrow to allow the Administration to pat itself on the back over the Crichton campus funding that has already been announced, but we are allowed only one hour 25 minutes to debate everything else that the Government is going to do.

Next week, 55 minutes are allocated for a statement on the Scottish broadcasting commission which can, to be frank, be fairly described as having been extensively leaked in advance, yet only 85 minutes are allocated today to debate the legislative programme that nobody has yet had a chance to see. There is virtually no time for back benchers from any party to participate in the debate.

It is clear that this Administration intends to govern by press release rather than by bringing its proposals before the democratically elected Scottish Parliament. That is unacceptable and I urge Parliament to reject the business motion. Instead, there should be a full and extended debate on the First Minister's statement to allow a proper opportunity for all members of this Parliament properly to scrutinise the legislative programme and hold the Administration to account.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The minister has indicated that he would like to respond. I am happy to let him do so.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party 2:36 pm, 5th September 2007

I am happy to respond.

It might have been helpful if the member had spoken to me about the issue beforehand. He may not be aware that the length of the debate that we will have this afternoon, and the length of the statement by the First Minister, were discussed at the Parliamentary Bureau on Tuesday and were unanimously agreed by the business managers. To be fair, the issue of additional time was raised. I said to the business managers at the Parliamentary Bureau that I was happy for the time that was being allocated to be extended and I pointed out that that would mean that members would have additional speaking time: back benchers would move from four-minute speeches to six-minute speeches but, in respect of members who would get to speak, the only gainers would be an additional Labour member and an additional Conservative member. The rest of the business managers accepted that advice and accepted the business motion that is before us. I guess that Iain Smith's fight is therefore not with the Government but with the internal mechanisms of his own party.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The question is, that motion S3M-412, in the name of Bruce Crawford, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

We cannot have a point of order during a vote.

If you are having a problem with your console, you have time to find another seat, Mr Don.

I gather that a number of members are having problems. I ask that the system be cleared. We will vote again shortly. I point out to members that the system is thoroughly checked before the start of business.

We will run the vote again.

Division number 1

For: Adam, Brian, Ahmad, Bashir, Aitken, Bill, Allan, Alasdair, Brocklebank, Ted, Brown, Gavin, Brown, Keith, Brownlee, Derek, Campbell, Aileen, Carlaw, Jackson, Coffey, Willie, Constance, Angela, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Don, Nigel, Doris, Bob, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, FitzPatrick, Joe, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Kenneth, Gibson, Rob, Goldie, Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Harvie, Christopher, Hepburn, Jamie, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Kidd, Bill, Lochhead, Richard, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLetchie, David, McMillan, Stuart, Milne, Nanette, Morgan, Alasdair, Munro, John Farquhar, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Gil, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Salmond, Alex, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Smith, Elizabeth, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, John, Thompson, Dave, Watt, Maureen, Welsh, Andrew, White, Sandra, Wilson, Bill, Wilson, John
Against: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Claire, Baker, Richard, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Margaret, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Foulkes, George, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Jamieson, Cathy, Kelly, James, Kerr, Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, McArthur, Liam, McConnell, Jack, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Mulligan, Mary, Murray, Elaine, O'Donnell, Hugh, Park, John, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stewart, David, Stone, Jamie, Tolson, Jim, Whitefield, Karen, Whitton, David
Abstentions: MacDonald, Margo

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 60, Against 54, Abstentions 1.

Motion agreed to.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. As Mr Crawford said, the motion on which we have just voted was agreed by the Parliamentary Bureau, which you chair. Would it be in order for you to point out that if we constantly revisit such issues, on business motion after business motion, the business of Parliament will not proceed expeditiously or sensibly?

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I am not sure that that is a point of order, but the point is made. What is clear is that the longer we extend this debate, the less time we will have to debate the matters in front of us this afternoon.