Section 30 — Section 17C arrangements: persons with whom agreements can be made

Part of Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:45 pm on 27th January 2010.

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Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat 3:45 pm, 27th January 2010

I will address the matter from a different angle.

I am deeply sorry because, as a matter of principle, Liberal Democrats would have no difficulty in including charities and co-operatives, which Helen Eadie has consistently advocated. Indeed, we were very sympathetic to the points that were raised by Richard Simpson at stage 2. However, today's debate is not consideration of the principles of the bill, but stage 3 consideration of amendments. I also deeply regret that the detail that has been provided in today's amendments was not available at stage 2—or between stages 2 and stage 3—when the matters to which I am about to refer might properly have been addressed.

From reading amendment 36, it is clear that "charity" would fit easily as a further category within new section 17CA(1)—which section 30 of the bill will insert into the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978—after the categories "a qualifying partnership", "a qualifying limited liability partnership" and "a qualifying company". However, over the page in new section 17CA(2), which provides definitions of what constitutes a qualifying partnership, qualifying limited liability partnership and qualifying company, amendment 37 seeks to insert a definition of what would constitute a qualifying charity that is wholly inconsistent with the other definitions that exist in sections 17CA(2)(a), 17CA(2)(b) and 17CA(2)(c). I cannot see that that will be other than a cause of confusion. More important, the result will be to discriminate against contractors who come under those other categories. Therefore, I do not think that amendment 37 is a competent amendment for a stage 3 debate.

With regret, we cannot support Helen Eadie's amendments 36 to 45 because we do not believe that at this stage—and without proper consideration and consultation—we should include in the bill provisions that we believe would not be effective in law.