Budget (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:07 pm on 6th February 2008.

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Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None 2:07 pm, 6th February 2008

The next item of business is stage 3 of the Budget (Scotland) Bill.

In dealing with amendments, members should have before them the bill—as the bill was not amended at stage 2, it is the bill as introduced—the marshalled list containing all amendments selected for debate, and the groupings of amendments, which I have agreed.

The division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for five minutes for the first division this afternoon. The period of voting for the first division and any subsequent divisions will be 30 seconds.

Amendment 1, in the name of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, is grouped with amendments 2 to 6.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The amendments that we propose to make to the 2008 budget bill follow consideration of the recommendations that were made by the Finance Committee and other parliamentary committees.

On the issue of police numbers, last year we announced a first step in the recruitment of additional police officers, with investment that would see an extra 150 recruits last year and this year as part of a programme of recruiting 500 new officers to police forces during this spending review period. We have heard the views of Parliament and, if these amendments are agreed to, we will be able to take a second step, delivering an additional £10 million funding, which will put 300 more police officers on to our streets in 2008-09. Moreover, we will commit resources in the following two years to increase that total to 500, over and above the 500 that we had already pledged to recruit.

Those extra officers come on top of the substantial increases in policing capacity that we are expecting to deliver through improved retention and reinvestment of efficiency gains, which will be focused on ensuring that they enhance the level of policing in Scotland's communities. We are committed to working with partners in the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to achieve the increase, through our historic concordat, and we will be working closely to support chief constables and police boards to deliver on that objective.

Let me be clear: the additional money that the amended budget will provide means that we will not only deliver 1,000 more police officers on our streets and in our communities but go substantially beyond that.

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat

I welcome the Government's U-turn back to the Scottish National Party's manifesto position. I will pick the cabinet secretary up on the points that he has made about increased capacity through retention and redeployment. I remind him that David Strang and others told the Justice Committee that retention would not increase numbers in any way, shape or form, and that the Scottish Police Federation and the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents felt that redeployment had gone as far as it could. How can the cabinet secretary say that he will increase capacity beyond the 1,000 additional officers?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

On Margaret Smith's first point, I love the graceful way in which the Liberal Democrats make their contribution to parliamentary debates. As I have gone through the budget process, I have tried as hard as I can to build consensus in every corner of the parliamentary chamber—

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Indeed, even with my tie, Mr McArthur—do you not think that it is a super choice for today?

Therefore, I am surprised that the spirit of consensus has not descended on the member for Edinburgh West.

I will address Margaret Smith's second, substantial point. It would be foolhardy for us to say that we are at the limit and that redeployment activity has reached all the heights that it could possibly reach in our police services. There are numerous police authorities in which significant redeployment initiatives are taking place—Grampian and Strathclyde come to mind. Through the partnership approach that epitomises this Government, we are encouraging our chief constables and our police boards, working with our local authorities and with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and his officials, to deliver on that commitment. We should not limit our ambitions as Margaret Smith would have us do.

Photo of Ted Brocklebank Ted Brocklebank Conservative

Can the cabinet secretary confirm that, as well as meeting the SNP's own manifesto commitment to 1,000 more police officers, he is now going to match the Conservative manifesto aspiration of 1,500 more police officers?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Mr Brocklebank's proposition and Margaret Smith's proposition cannot both be true. What is undeniable is that we are exceeding the manifesto commitments that we made to the people of Scotland. We have had to make some difficult decisions to release resources from other parts of the budget in order to find the additional money that we are putting into this policy initiative. We propose to deliver the extra police officers by changing the timetable for some projects within the prisons estate and e-health budgets and by finding a contribution from the motorway and trunk road network strengthening and improvement budget. In taking those decisions, I assure members that no other services or projects will be affected.

The amendments will also allow for an increased investment of almost £4.3 million in our climate challenge fund, to help to accelerate our work in that area. Our consultation paper on the Scottish climate change bill makes clear the scale of the challenge that we face in tackling climate change. As members know, our budget invests resources to help us to make greater use of our substantial renewable energy resource, to reduce the climate change emissions from transport, housing and business, and to improve Scotland's record on waste management and recycling.

Our communities have a major contribution to make to tackling climate change, and the additional money that we want to provide through our climate challenge fund will support a range of sustainable development and climate change initiatives. We want to provide that extra funding in recognition of the increased level of effort that is required, both within and outwith Government, to deliver our greener Scotland commitments, including our ambitious climate change targets. To provide that extra investment, we propose to transfer funds from the Registers of Scotland's public dividend capital. I am delighted that that will be possible without having any negative impact on the valuable services that the Registers of Scotland provides. In formulating the budget for 2009-10 and the subsequent year, I will make provision for the continuation of investment of that magnitude in the fund.

We have had to build consensus and make some tough choices in order to create a programme that can command a majority in Parliament today. I have heard many calls from throughout the chamber for the Government to intensify its efforts to ensure that there is a strong police presence in our communities and to take vigorous action to tackle climate change. I believe that the amendments will go some way to deliver on those aspirations, which have been expressed throughout the Parliament. I urge Parliament to support the amendments in my name.

I move amendment 1.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour 2:15 pm, 6th February 2008

Labour will support the amendment on the justice budget to ensure the funding of a further 500 police officers. It is similar to a proposal that we made in committee.

Labour achieved record police numbers and we are proud of our record in office. We committed to build police capacity and the visibility of police officers in our communities, but in addition we promoted—and we still support—the vital resource of community wardens working hand in hand with police officers in the community. The Government seems to have ditched that commitment.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

No, thank you.

We also stand on our record of the decisions that we took on civilianisation, which most notably involved transferring the duties for the custody of prisoners and their transport from prison to court. That freed up hundreds of police officers to be on the streets in communities, where they are of the most benefit.

The Government has at last conceded that the budget should honour the promise of 1,000 police officers or perhaps substantially more. You have been dragged kicking and screaming to honour your own promise, clapping yourselves on the back for honouring your own commitment to the Scottish people. The Cabinet Secretary for Justice has been sacrificed for the past six months so that you could do a deal with the Tories for your first budget—[Interruption.]

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

I am at least pleased that, at long last, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice has been put out of his misery so that Derek Brownlee could come along and attempt to take the credit. However, I suggest to Mr Brownlee that Labour played a crucial role in holding the Government to account on its manifesto promises.

Of course, we wish the Government well in delivering an additional 1,000 police officers during the current session of Parliament. However, even if the number is substantially higher than that, it will still fall short of the Liberal and Labour achievement in government.

The real issue today is that the Government has failed properly to address the real challenge of shaping our police force in the next three to four years. When I asked the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth last week how the shortfall in police pensions is to be paid for, he washed his hands of the liability. Strathclyde Police confirmed in a letter to me that the shortfall for all the Scottish authorities is more than £100 million. That is the single biggest factor that affects the deliverability of an additional 1,000 police officers.

The letter from Strathclyde Police states that the identifiable grant-aided expenditure figures for the police in the spending review 2007 make no allowance for the additional pension cost pressure. It also says that local authorities' ability to fund that pressure fully along with all the other pressures is extremely problematic. Indeed, recruitment levels in Strathclyde Police have been moderated because of the cabinet secretary's lack of commitment to fund police pensions. The Government is refusing to live up to the liability, which will almost definitely affect the deliverability. [Interruption.]

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

We will ensure that you will not be able to blame local authorities for the black hole in the budget. Do the right thing. Fund police pensions. Find £100 million. We might then believe that you will honour your promise of 1,000-plus police officers. We shall be watching.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

It is timely to remind all members that they should not use the word "you", please, or refer directly to other members.

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

I welcome this opportunity to take part in the debate.

We are nearing the end of the most open and transparent budget process in the Scottish Parliament's history. We have a minority Government for the first time, and the Parliament as a whole must endorse our budget proposals. The previous Administration did not need to listen to Parliament—indeed, there have been times over the past three months when I and, I am sure, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth wished that we did not need to do so—but a minority Government must listen to views from across the chamber, and that must be good for democracy.

The cabinet secretary has led the way with the new approach to government. The budget and the amendments testify to the fact that he has listened to views from across the chamber. The Labour Party has learned to its cost that a party will be unable to achieve anything in a Parliament of minorities unless it secures the backing of other parties. Its inability to take on board the views of anyone else resulted in its isolation on the Finance Committee and at stage 1 of the bill, when it failed to secure the support of any other parties for its amendments. However, the SNP Government has listened. I hope that the work that John Swinney has done to take on board the views of other parties will result in the budget and the proposed amendments receiving support throughout the chamber.

A budget has never before been debated as much. Communities have never before scrutinised a budget to the extent that they have, the media have never taken such an interest in a budget and the public have never known as clearly how they will be affected by the decisions that we make today.

Photo of Rhona Brankin Rhona Brankin Labour

If communities throughout Scotland have been consulted on the budget as never before, what about the parents of disabled children? What has happened to the £34 million that came to the Scottish Government? The member should tell the parents of those children—[ Interruption. ]

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

That is further scaremongering. I said that the public have never taken such a great interest in a budget. The member should pay attention, please.

If the budget is not passed, the public will know who is to blame for the impact on public services and investment throughout Scotland. One of the clearest consequences for the public of our not passing the bill will be a huge rise in council taxes for Scottish households. Massive council tax increases are inevitable if the budget is not passed today: councils will not receive any increases on last year's budgets so, if front-line services are to be protected, they will have to raise the difference through a council tax increase of around 22 per cent. That will be a 22 per cent increase on every bill, which could mean a rise of £350 for a band D property in Dundee.

The SNP Government is providing in the budget the resources to deliver on our manifesto commitment to freeze the council tax. The Labour Party said on page 99 of its manifesto:

"we will work with colleagues in local government to keep Council Tax increases low."

In its document on its agenda for 2007, the Labour Party went further. It said:

"Every Labour Council Leader in Scotland will today rule out introducing council tax rises above inflation for the next four years."

If Labour fails to support the budget today, the 60 per cent council tax increase under the previous Government will pale into insignificance. Rather than working with local government to keep council tax rises below inflation, Labour members will be voting for the highest rise since the council tax was introduced.

The budget will not pass without the support of Opposition members. If it is not passed, the Parliament will have failed the people of Scotland. The cabinet secretary has listened and addressed many of the Opposition's concerns in the amendments and in his statements. It is now up to the Opposition parties to raise their game and rise to the challenge.

I commend the budget and the amendments to members.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

The cabinet secretary has listened, and there is no greater joy in heaven than when a sinner repents. If I may make another biblical analogy, surely there has not been such a volte-face since Saul went on his celebrated excursion to Damascus. The SNP Government was elected on a manifesto that promised 1,000 new police officers, but it reneged on that promise. Instead, it offered 500 new police officers, with the remaining 500 to be produced by an amalgam of retreads, redeployment and an extension of civilianisation, none of which was going to work in practical terms.

In the end, the Government has had to recognise the persuasiveness of my Conservative colleagues and the fact that members from other parties knew that that policy was never going to work because it could not work. If you were a police officer of 52 years of age getting down and dirty in the east end of Glasgow, would you be prepared to work for one third of your salary? That is basically what that lot on the SNP benches were asking them to do. It was never going to work.

Pauline McNeill correctly said that the Government has been brought kicking and screaming to today's position. She did a fair bit of screaming herself, I may say—the kicking may follow, so I will be wary of where I position myself in proximity to her. Is that the same Pauline McNeill who was elected on the strength of a manifesto that stated that there would be no extra police officers? Is it the same Pauline McNeill who abstained in the vote on a Conservative motion in January that called for the recruitment of more police officers? Is it the same Ms McNeill who voted—also in January—against a different motion that called for more police officers? Fortunately, some wiser counsel prevailed on the Labour side.

Pauline McNeill slightly misrepresented history in talking about what happened when the matter came before the Justice Committee. The Labour members moved for 1,000 new police officers. Unfortunately, their suggestion for how the savings would be made was totally unworkable and impractical. Her colleagues suggested that the money be taken from the budgets for serious crime and drug enforcement. If they had thought it through, they would have realised that that, surely, could not have worked either.

We have made progress. Perhaps for the first time in nine years, Parliament has approached the budget process in a sensible and moderate way. The parliamentary arithmetic perhaps dictated that that was inevitable; nevertheless, people have listened to one another. On that basis, we will support the amendments and we will listen with considerable interest to what is said elsewhere. Progress has been made and, as a result of the amendments, Scotland's communities will be much safer than they have been in the past. We will see a tangible benefit, as has been seen already in central Glasgow and central Edinburgh, where police officers are actively and visibly patrolling the streets. That can be no bad thing.

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

The Liberal Democrats welcome the announcement that Mr Swinney has made this afternoon on police numbers—a position to which the SNP has been brought by the whole Parliament. All members should respect that. Parliament will want to look closely at the numbers that Mr Swinney has announced, as the budget contains less detail than ever before. I am sure that the numbers that he has announced will be scrutinised in considerable detail by the Justice Committee.

Mr Swinney should not have brushed off quite so readily the statement of Chief Constable Strang, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland. Chief Constable Strang said:

"Retention will not increase police numbers. If we retain someone, the funds will not be available for recruitment."—[Official Report, Justice Committee, 20 November 2007, c 356.]

It is important that the cabinet secretary and his ministerial colleagues reflect on that evidence, which was given to a parliamentary committee.

The Liberal Democrats are puzzled as to why the Government's golden rule that every amendment must say where the money would come from within each portfolio area and must be fully scrutinised has been disregarded at stage 3. There has been no parliamentary scrutiny by the committees of the changes that Mr Swinney has announced this afternoon. We take Mr Swinney's word for it that those changes are not significant. However, there are changes in the budget areas of e-health, motorways and prisons, among others. It is up to Mr Swinney to demonstrate to Parliament that they are insignificant changes. They are changes that no committee has had the opportunity to scrutinise. I hope that the minister will reflect on that.

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

I am not always a fan of time for reflection, but I listened to today's speaker talk about the importance of generosity amongst wise leaders, and embodying that by pointing out that Buddhist teaching is not exclusive but universal. This far into the debate, I cannot help but reflect on how far we all are from enlightenment.

Throughout the budget process, the Greens have sought to be constructive and to argue—

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

I thank Mr Purvis; if he wants to stand up, he should do so.

Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat

Which particular trunk road in Scotland should not be part of the budget? What roads development would Patrick Harvie like to see in the budget?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

There will be no news in my response to that. Jeremy Purvis—and every other member—knows that we have opposed, and remain the only party that continues to oppose, projects that his party proposed, including the M74 extension. Labour and Liberal Democrat members complain that too much is being spent on tarmac, but Jeremy Purvis's colleagues need to answer a question: which budget lines would they like to see less being spent on, and which roads projects would they want to join the Greens in scrapping? [ Interruption. ]

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

If members will permit it, I will turn to amendment 1. During the election, the Scottish Green Party argued that one of the most important things we can do is give communities a sense of empowerment, and a sense that climate change presents opportunities and not just threats and difficult challenges. The climate challenge fund was an effort to address that and give communities the ability to put in place their own creative and innovative solutions for low-carbon living. I am glad that the Government agreed to include a climate challenge fund and has lodged an amendment that will increase that fund.

On amendment 5, members will not be surprised to hear that the Green Party has never been a party of gung-ho tough-on-crime rhetoric, although I agree that an increase in the number of police officers will do a great deal less harm than the proliferation of preventive orders that we have seen during recent years. I therefore have no problems supporting amendment 5.

At stage 1, we emphasised the budget's shortcomings on many issues, including those that Mr Purvis helpfully pointed out, and we explained the changes that we wanted. I welcome the proposed changes, but there are still measures to which the cabinet secretary can commit even at this late stage—not least in response to last week's vote on support for bus services. I look forward to those commitments coming through during the debate, during which time, with any luck, I will get another go at Mr Rumbles, to boot.

Photo of Dave Thompson Dave Thompson Scottish National Party

Labour and the Liberals have attempted to thwart the process since the SNP Government's first budget was introduced. While other parties have opted for constructive engagement with the SNP Government, Labour and the Liberals have indulged in an orgy of negativity, which we have witnessed again today, and which obscures the real debate which is about the future good of Scotland, not selfish party politics.

Photo of David Whitton David Whitton Labour

I am rather disappointed by Mr Thompson's negative tone. Mr Thompson and I are members of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, in which I lodged amendments on skills academies and modern apprenticeships. I do not recall receiving any backing from the member. Where was his consensual approach?

Photo of Dave Thompson Dave Thompson Scottish National Party

Mr Whitton wanted to cut road maintenance and other budgets, which would not be very good for people in the Highlands or elsewhere in Scotland.

The amendments that we are discussing today are the result of positive engagement: that is to be welcomed. The main Labour line, however, has been to scaremonger and frighten Scotland's most vulnerable people. That is a shameless tactic that has backfired badly on Labour. It claimed that local councils all over Scotland would penalise vulnerable groups because their funding is no longer ring-fenced—as if councils could not wait to dump the poor and the disadvantaged. However, Labour members forgot that lots of those councils are Labour-led. It did not take long for one of their most senior councillors—Pat Watters, convener of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities—to remind the Labour Party of that when he said that its claim

"is both a slur on local government politicians and a silly argument."

The problem is that Labour and the Liberals have not got the hang of being in opposition to minority Government and act as if their coalition was never wound up. Unlike the Tories, the Greens and Margo MacDonald, the parties of the former Executive think that being in opposition is all about kicking the SNP Government at every opportunity. They keep on getting it wrong and falling flat on their faces—it is hilarious to watch them. They remind me of a "Carry On" film—"Carry On Coalescing"—with Wendy Alexander and Nicol Stephen as the Barbara Windsor and Sid James of Scottish politics.

On the other hand, the Tories, the Greens and Margo MacDonald have adapted to the new politics like ducks to water. Let us be honest: the amendments would not have been lodged if the Tories, the Greens and Margo MacDonald had not encouraged us to fine-tune our first budget. I welcome the amendments and, as a Highlands and Islands MSP, I endorse the budget. My constituents will benefit from the freeze in council tax, the reduction in business rates, the reduction in prescription charges, the additional investment to tackle waiting times and so on and on.

The budget follows the worst settlement from Westminster since the Scottish Parliament's inception, but it presents Scotland with a unique opportunity to move forward, following John Swinney's excellent work on the budget. For eight years, the Labour-Liberal coalition held us back and the country's services, economy and reputation suffered. Nothing was done without Westminster's approval and nobody spoke up for Scotland. The new Scottish Government will speak up for Scotland. Its first budget is a budget for Scotland and a milestone in our history. The budget is tempered by the desire to co-operate, the desire for consensus and the desire to move Scotland forward.

I welcome the amendments and applaud all those who have sought to engage constructively with the Government for the good of the country.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

Let me make it clear that Labour members will support amendment 6, which will increase the climate change fund. Having read John Swinney's explanation to the convener of the Finance Committee, we hope that his approach will be genuinely sustainable and that that means that social justice will be included as an element of sustainable development. A crucial part of our response to climate change must be to ensure that the people who are already most vulnerable do not lose out further when climate change really begins to kick in.

We know that climate change is already with us—that is why Labour Rural Affairs and Development Committee members expressed disappointment about the flooding and strategic waste issue. We believe fundamentally that the budget as a whole does not do enough on climate change. The SNP dumped its manifesto commitment to year-on-year targets for reductions in carbon emissions. Amendment 6 must be about ensuring not just that the climate change fund is provided with £4 million of spare cash but that it can drive change across the budget. I ask the cabinet secretary to consider carefully how he will spend that money. We must ensure that all proposed Government expenditure not only does as much as possible to reduce our carbon emissions but takes into account the other greenhouse gases as well.

We raised the issue of supported bus services last week, so I ask the cabinet secretary to clarify whether today's press reports are right in suggesting that he is considering acting on fuel costs for the bus industry. The bus industry is environmentally friendly. Buses are part of how we can ensure that we get about our business more energy-efficiently and they are part of the response to tackling climate change.

In supporting amendment 6 today, we want to see more being done in the rest of the £30 billion. That is the crucial point. The budget will increase money for microgeneration, but more must be made available for that—the SNP promised a lot in its manifesto—than is currently provided in the budget. On energy efficiency, we support the climate change fund, but the cabinet secretary must sign up to ensuring that energy efficiency is a priority across the Scottish Executive's budget so that we save Government money while reducing carbon emissions. That must be a win-win.

We want to ensure that the budget is spent more wisely so that it helps to tackle climate change and does not make it worse. We have raised those concerns in committee debates on the budget process thus far. We hope that, as part of the climate change fund, the cabinet secretary will look at the budget as a whole rather than just tinker around the edges. He must ensure that the new money can drive change right across the Executive so that we have targets in carbon reduction. This is not about just a small amount of money but about making a change across the whole budget. We are prepared to work constructively with the Government on that. That is the context in which we will support amendment 6.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Far be it from me to suggest the best set of tactics to influence the Government from the Opposition benches, but I have to say that Sarah Boyack's contribution to the debate is perhaps a model of how to advance an argument that will, in this multi-party Parliament, get one's point of view across. I take very seriously the points that she raised about ensuring that we do not just focus on the £3 million end of the spectrum, but on the £31 billion end, in terms of the impact on the environment. The measures in regard to carbon accounting that I announced in my speech to Parliament in the stage 1 debate give, I hope, some reassurance of the Government's direction of travel in an area in which there is no proven method of assessment of the issues, but in which the Government is prepared to move forward.

I assure Sarah Boyack that, in a number of areas in relation to the distribution of resources in the climate change fund, we will be mindful of the impact of climate change on social justice. I further reassure her that although the Government has certainly changed the method of distribution of money to the local government block fund—one of the changes that I have made in the budget process—it is still investing significantly in flooding and strategic waste. The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment has a significant budget for advancing the Government's zero waste strategy, which is an essential commitment of our Administration. Sarah Boyack's contribution to the question of how to influence the Government was, if I may say so, in somewhat marked contrast to that of Pauline McNeill. I am not quite sure where in the process Pauline McNeill thinks the Labour Party "played a crucial role".

In the financial settlement that we have proposed to local authorities, we have included funding for the police pensions problem. I realise that it is a significant factor to be wrestled with, but my discussions with chief constables, conveners of police authorities and with Government officials and ministers show that we can work through the problem.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

I will make a very serious point. There is an admitted shortfall for police pensions of £100 million throughout Scotland, but there does not seem to be that amount in the grant-aided expenditure. Can you confirm that that is the case, cabinet secretary? Otherwise, what will you tell Parliament you are going to do about the black hole? It is a serious issue.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I tell Pauline McNeill that I can do none of those things, but I am sure that the cabinet secretary will help.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I shall certainly turn my hand to the problem in your absence, Presiding Officer.

I have said that funding is provided in the settlement to tackle the police pensions issue. Police pension payments are a statutory responsibility—they cannot be avoided. The public purse must therefore make provision for that and, as I have said, we have made funding available in the settlement. If the issue—I make the point as gently as I can—is at the top of the Labour Party's list of concerns, where is it in the amendments that were marshalled by the Labour Party throughout this process?

Before I address other issues, I will say that there was an interesting article in the Evening Times yesterday—one Glasgow city councillor, in reflecting on the Government's financial support to local authorities, which was more than the city council had bargained for, simply said, "God bless them." There we have it, from the Glasgow City Council Labour group: "God bless" the SNP Government for its generosity.

Mr Aitken made two remarks on which I will concentrate. He said that in this budget process people had listened to each other. That is a serious point on which Parliament needs to reflect, because the Government has made changes to the budget bill. It is the first time I can remember the Government bringing forward such changes, so people must have been listening to other people—unlike under the tyranny that we had for eight years in the previous two sessions of Parliament.

Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

Does Mr Swinney acknowledge that one factor in that might have been that, in its eight years in opposition, the SNP managed on only one occasion to lodge an amendment to the budget bill?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Let me say that the political climate of the time was not particularly conducive to such ideas.

Mr Aitken talked about police officers in the east end of Glasgow. I should point out that, in contrast to police officers in the east end of London, police officers in the east end of Glasgow are at least getting the pay settlement to which they are entitled.

Finally, Tavish Scott expressed concern that I had broken my golden rule with regard to where the money was coming from. I assure him—if the Presiding Officer allows me to, will explain to him in enormous detail—that we are taking resources from e-health in the health budget and from the prisons estate in the justice budget. Resources are going into the rural affairs budget for the climate change fund. As I said in my opening remarks, money is coming out of the motorway and trunk roads network operating budget, and the Government will also take capital receipts from the Registers of Scotland without interrupting its service.

That all adds up to a fully explained audit trail of where the money is coming from and where it is going to. On that basis, I commend the amendments to Parliament.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The question is, that amendment 1 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

There will be a division. As this is the first division, there will be a five-minute suspension.

Meeting suspended.

On resuming—

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, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Margo, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Tom, McConnell, Jack, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, McMillan, Stuart, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, 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, Scott, John, 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
Abstentions: Hume, Jim, McArthur, Liam, McInnes, Alison, Munro, John Farquhar, O'Donnell, Hugh, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Jamie, Tolson, Jim

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 110, Against 14, Abstentions 1.

Amendment 1 agreed to.

Photo of Alison McInnes Alison McInnes Liberal Democrat

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Can you read out the result of the division again, please?

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I certainly can. The result of the division is: For 110, Against 14—

Members:

No.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Fourteen is what came up on the screen. I apologise—there were no abstentions. [ Interruption. ] Order. I will read out the result again.

The result of the division is: For 110, Against 0, Abstentions 14.

I apologise. Does that address your point of order, Ms McInnes?

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Does any member object to a single question being put on amendments 2 to 6?

Members:

Yes.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I will put the questions on the amendments one at a time.

The question is, that amendment 2 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 2

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, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Margo, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Tom, McConnell, Jack, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, McMillan, Stuart, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, 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, Scott, John, 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
Abstentions: Hume, Jim, McArthur, Liam, McInnes, Alison, Munro, John Farquhar, O'Donnell, Hugh, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Jamie, Tolson, Jim

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 110, Against 0, Abstentions 14.

Amendment 2 agreed to.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The question is, that amendment 3 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 3

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, 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, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Margo, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Tom, McConnell, Jack, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, McMillan, Stuart, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, 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, Scott, John, 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
Abstentions: Hume, Jim, McArthur, Liam, McInnes, Alison, Munro, John Farquhar, O'Donnell, Hugh, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Jamie, Tolson, Jim

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 109, Against 0, Abstentions 14.

Amendment 3 agreed to.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The question is, that amendment 4 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

: No.

Division number 4

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, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Margo, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Tom, McConnell, Jack, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, McMillan, Stuart, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, 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, Scott, John, 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
Abstentions: Hume, Jim, McArthur, Liam, McInnes, Alison, Munro, John Farquhar, O'Donnell, Hugh, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Jamie, Tolson, Jim

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 110, Against 0, Abstentions 14.

Amendment 4 agreed to.

Amendments 5 and 6 agreed to.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

That concludes consideration of amendments.