Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament at 4:50 pm on 26th September 2007.

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Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None 4:50 pm, 26th September 2007

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S3M-542, in the name of Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a revised business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees the following revision to the programme of business for Thursday 27 September 2007— after

2.55 pm Ministerial Statement: Rail Links to Edinburgh Airport delete followed by Ministerial Statement: Broadcasting and insert followed by Scottish Government Debate: Rail Links to Edinburgh Airport.—[Bruce Crawford.]

Members:

Oh!

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat 5:00 pm, 26th September 2007

I am grateful to members for the warmth of their reception, but I want to bring to their attention the context of the arrangements for tomorrow's business on the Edinburgh airport rail link. Initially, the minister offered only a ministerial statement, which was astonishing in the circumstances. He wriggled manfully to avoid a debate on this most controversial issue, but he has now been forced to agree to a debate on a motion.

However, let us consider what will now happen. We now have a ministerial statement that gives the minister 20 minutes of uninterrupted attention—no doubt he would regard that as appropriate—followed by 10 minutes of only clarifying questions from members. There will then be a foreshortened debate; it has, in effect, lost half an hour from the potential time.

I recommend to the chamber the process that we have just gone through on the Glasgow Housing Association and stock transfer. There was an introductory statement by the cabinet secretary followed by a full and, everyone would accept, good debate on the issues. That is a much better way of dealing with matters than that which is suggested in the motion. I suggest respectfully that the proposal that there should be a ministerial statement followed by a debate is, in this context, simply designed to give ministers a longer uninterrupted time to speak and to avoid as much as possible of the debate that follows. Against that background, I oppose the business motion.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party 5:02 pm, 26th September 2007

I start by informing the chamber that the issues raised by Robert Brown were raised during the Parliamentary Bureau meeting on Tuesday and voted on, with agreement reached.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Will you confirm that agreement was not reached? There was a contentious division in the bureau on the matter.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I will allow the minister to refer to that, should he wish to do so.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party

When there is a contentious issue, there is a vote, so it goes without saying that there was a contentious issue that was voted on and that agreement was reached. [ Interruption. ]

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party

Let me first turn to the request for only a debate on the rail links to Edinburgh airport. I remind members of Robert Brown's comments here last week:

"I want to put on the record today the view of the Liberal Democrats that the importance of the issue and the uncertainty that surrounds it are such that there requires to be a parliamentary debate on it—preferably next week but certainly before the October recess."—[Official Report, 19 September 2007; c 1885.]

As I said last week, we have fulfilled the commitment for Parliament to debate the issue. On 27 June, the Parliament agreed a motion that called on the Scottish Government

"to report back to the Parliament in September on the outcome of its discussions with the relevant parties."

By providing a statement on the issue prior to the debate, we have fulfilled that commitment as well. Given the importance of the issue, I am surprised—or perhaps I am not—at Robert Brown's request for less time for the Scottish Government to report back to Parliament on its plans for the rail link to Edinburgh airport.

Let me address the specific issue of being able to ask only clarifying questions. I am, again, surprised that Robert Brown has contested that procedure, because the Liberal Democrats did not seem to have a problem with it when they were in Government. Then, clarifying questions were a normal part of the process. I wonder what has changed. I will remind Robert Brown of a time when he was perfectly content with that process. When his party was part of the Government, Sarah Boyack made a strategic roads review statement on Thursday 4 November 1999, and a total of one hour and 40 minutes were provided. The motion will provide the Parliament with two hours in which to consider the matter tomorrow.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party

I suggest that the Liberals' rather unusual position is rejected by the Parliament.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I am sorry; the minister has finished.

The question is, that motion S3M-542, in the name of Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 1

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

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 106, Against 14, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to.

That the Parliament agrees the following revision to the programme of business for Thursday 27 September 2007— after

2.55 pm Ministerial Statement: Rail Links to Edinburgh Airport delete followed by Ministerial Statement: Broadcasting and insert followed by Scottish Government Debate: Rail Links to Edinburgh Airport.