Business Motions

– in the Scottish Parliament at 5:00 pm on 29th October 2008.

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Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None 5:00 pm, 29th October 2008

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S3M-2781, in the name of Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a revised business programme for Thursday 30 October, which is tomorrow.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees the following revision to the programme of business for Thursday 30 October 2008— after

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

2.55 pm Scottish Government Debate: Non-Native Invasive Species and insert

2.55 pm Ministerial Statement: Teacher Employment Working Group Report followed by Scottish Government Debate: Non-Native Invasive Species—[Bruce Crawford.]

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Mike Rumbles has indicated that he wishes to speak against the motion. Mr Rumbles, you have up to five minutes.

Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat 5:01 pm, 29th October 2008

At the end of last week, the Government asked the Opposition business managers for their views on its intention to make a statement today on the teacher employment working group report. The Opposition parties asked the Government to schedule the statement for next week rather than this week, to allow MSPs time to prepare. At meetings yesterday, Opposition parties again made it clear to the Government that, as the statement was not an emergency statement, it could and should be made next week rather than this week.

At the formal meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau yesterday, the Government insisted that it wished to make the statement this week but agreed to move it by just one day. The Government would not accede to the reasonable requests of the Opposition parties to move the statement to next week. As will be made clear when the vote is published, the Conservative party in the bureau moved to support the Government in a formal vote, in which the proposal was passed by 63 weighted votes to 62.

This minority Government makes a pretence of consultation and discussion, but in the Parliamentary Bureau it simply demands that it get its own way over the parliamentary timetable. That is not good enough. I hear howls of protest from SNP back benchers, but they really need to know what their business manager is doing. I urge the Government to reconsider its increasingly macho approach to the way in which it does business. It is not helpful to have to bring issues such as this to the floor of the chamber. The parliamentary timetabling of non-urgent ministerial statements should surely be decided by reasonable agreement between the parties. Let us not forget that Parliament, rather than the Government, is supposed to be in charge of parliamentary business. That is why we have an opportunity to vote on the issue in a few minutes' time. Such votes do not happen in the House of Commons; they happen here because we are clear that Parliament is in charge, not the Government.

I have no doubt that the Government will repeat its view that it is simply responding to a previous parliamentary resolution that it should make a statement "as soon as practicable". Tomorrow is certainly soon but, for practical purposes, the statement would be better made next week. The Government's argument simply does not hold. Therefore, there must be another reason—so far unmentioned—why the Government is so desperate to make what we are told is a non-urgent statement this week rather than next week.

This is no way to conduct our parliamentary affairs. I urge Parliament to regain control of its timetable by taking the opportunity to vote against the business motion.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I call on Bruce Crawford to respond on behalf of the Government.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party 5:04 pm, 29th October 2008

On 11 September, following a debate on teacher numbers, Parliament resolved to call on

"the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning to make a ministerial statement on this subject as soon as practicable following receipt of the report of the Teacher Employment Working Group."

In response to that resolution, I recommended to the Parliamentary Bureau yesterday that we programme a statement for this week, which is evidently the soonest and most practicable time to do so. Initially, I suggested that the statement should be scheduled for today. Having listened to the concerns of business managers about the need to provide more time for MSPs to consult on this important matter, I suggested a compromise by recommending to the Parliamentary Bureau that the statement be scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, immediately following themed question time.

However, I put parliamentary concerns to one side and agree for a moment with Mike Rumbles that there is another reason why we are doing this, and it is much more important than he suggested. An important task will flow from the teacher employment working group's report. It will be to do with better-integrated national and local teacher workforce planning. The teacher workforce planning cycle has commenced and putting back publication of the report would delay efforts to achieve that integration and do the workforce planning that we all want to do. The sooner the report is published, the sooner we can get its recommendations and get on with the job.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party

Presiding Officer, are interventions appropriate in this situation?

Photo of Michael McMahon Michael McMahon Labour

I thank Bruce Crawford for that information, but I ask him why, if it is so important, he did not make it available to the bureau yesterday? Rather than Mr Crawford clarifying the situation, he has introduced something else into it, which makes us even more suspicious of the motivation behind the arrangement.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party

I did not need to do that because David McLetchie did a good job of making that very point at the bureau meeting yesterday.

Although we hope that Parliament will support the recommendation to have the ministerial statement this week, any requests for another debate at an appropriate time will be treated sympathetically.

I expect Rhona Brankin to be particularly supportive of the Government's position when we make a decision. After all, in her contribution to the debate on 11 September, she argued forcibly that the Government should make a ministerial statement on the matter before the October recess. Indeed, she felt so strongly about the matter that it was included in her motion for debate. I apologise to Rhona Brankin for not being in a position to deliver the statement before the recess. Perhaps she will accept that the Government has done the next best thing by providing Parliament with the opportunity to question the cabinet secretary during the week following the recess. I therefore recommend the motion to Parliament. As Mike Rumbles said, Parliament will have the final say and I will rest with its decision.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The question is, that motion S3M-2781, in the name of Bruce Crawford, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

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, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Christopher, Harvie, Patrick, Hepburn, Jamie, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Kidd, Bill, Lamont, John, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLetchie, David, McMillan, Stuart, Milne, Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Gil, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Salmond, Alex, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Smith, Elizabeth, Somerville, Shirley-Anne, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, John, Thompson, Dave, Watt, Maureen, Welsh, Andrew, White, Sandra, Wilson, Bill, Wilson, John
Against: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baker, Claire, Baker, Richard, Boyack, Sarah, Brown, Robert, Craigie, Cathie, Eadie, Helen, Finnie, Ross, Foulkes, George, Gordon, Charlie, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Hume, Jim, Jamieson, Cathy, Kelly, James, Lamont, Johann, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, McArthur, Liam, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Tom, McConnell, Jack, McInnes, Alison, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, Mulligan, Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Elaine, O'Donnell, Hugh, Peacock, Peter, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, 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 65, Against 45, Abstentions 1.

Motion agreed to.

That the Parliament agrees the following revision to the programme of business for Thursday 30 October 2008— after

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

2.55 pm Scottish Government Debate: Non-Native Invasive Species and insert

2.55 pm Ministerial Statement: Teacher Employment Working Group Report followed by Scottish Government Debate: Non-Native Invasive Species

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S3M-2784, 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 November 2008

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 1 Debate: Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Bill followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 6 November 2008

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Ministerial Statement: Scrutiny Improvement Changes to Structures followed by Scottish Government Debate: Patients' Rights

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

2.15 pm Themed Question Time Health and Wellbeing

2.55 pm Scottish Government Debate: United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Wednesday 12 November 2008

2.30 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Stage 1 Debate: Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Bill followed by Financial Resolution: Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Bill followed by Business Motion followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members' Business Thursday 13 November 2008

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 Rural Affairs and the Environment; Justice and Law Officers

2.55 pm Scottish Government Business followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

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

Motion agreed to.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S3M-2782, in the name of Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a stage 1 timetable for the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Bill.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees that consideration of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1 be completed by 6 March 2009.—[Bruce Crawford.]

Motion agreed to.