Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th October 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour

Good morning. We begin with consideration of business motion S5M-19378, in the name of Graeme Dey, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a revision to today’s business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees to the following revision to the programme of business for Thursday 10 October 2019— delete followed by

Members’ Business delete

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Portfolio Questions: Education and Skills followed by

Stage 3 Debate: Transport (Scotland) Bill and insert

1.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

1.30 pm Portfolio Questions:

Education and Skills followed by

Stage 3 Amendments: Transport (Scotland) Bill followed by

Stage 3 Debate: Transport (Scotland) Bill followed by

Stage 1 Debate: Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill delete

5.00 pm Decision Time and insert

5.15 pm Decision Time.—[

Maurice Golden

]

The Presiding Officer:

Murdo Fraser has indicated that he wishes to speak against the motion.

Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

I wish to oppose the business motion. I do so in the knowledge that it has been agreed by the Parliamentary Bureau and by my own party’s business manager. My opposition is on the ground that the time allowed for this afternoon’s debate on the Non-domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill at stage 1 has been reduced to one hour and 25 minutes. I understand that speakers’ times in that debate have also been reduced. The bill is an important one for the Parliament to consider and it will have consequences for the business community, which is looking with great interest at how we deal with the business rates regime. It also has implications for independent schools and other areas. It is extremely unfortunate that the debating time for such a vital piece of legislation is to be constrained to less than an hour and a half and that, as I understand it, speakers are to have their times restricted to no more than four minutes.

This is a Parliament, the primary function of which is to debate legislation. We spend a lot of time debating very worthy subjects in Government business, but priority must be given to legislation. I am extremely concerned about the situation that developed last night, about which members raised points of order at the time, when the Parliament sat for so long. Quite rightly, it was dealing with legislation, but the Parliamentary Bureau needs to look at the amount of time that is being allocated to deal with the making of law, which is our priority. The Parliament is simply not being well served by the way in which business is currently being timetabled.

The Presiding Officer:

I thank Murdo Fraser for making those points. Normally at this stage I would ask the Government’s business manager to respond. Maurice Golden or any other business manager may respond if they so choose to do so. I usually chair meetings of the Parliamentary Bureau. Unfortunately, I did not do so this morning, but I can say that the matters that Mr Fraser has raised are the very ones that the Bureau discusses every time that it meets. Does Mr Golden wish to say anything in response?

Photo of Maurice Golden Maurice Golden Conservative

This week, out of necessity and because of the length of members’ contributions, decision time has had to be changed twice, which is unfortunate. The Parliamentary Bureau attempts to manage such situations as best it can. As the Presiding Officer made clear last night, the bureau will consider setting parameters so that, in future, we can do our best to avoid having late decision times and can prioritise legislative business.

The Presiding Officer:

I add that the reason for the bureau’s bringing the motion to the Parliament is that although the bureau represents all parties when it meets, it is up to the Parliament and individual members to agree to its timetabling.

The question is, that motion S5M-

19378 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees to the following revision to the programme of business for Thursday 10 October 2019— delete followed by

Members’ Business delete

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Portfolio Questions: Education and Skills followed by

Stage 3 Debate: Transport (Scotland) Bill and insert

1.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

1.30 pm Portfolio Questions:

Education and Skills followed by

Stage 3 Amendments: Transport (Scotland) Bill followed by

Stage 3 Debate: Transport (Scotland) Bill followed by

Stage 1 Debate: Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill delete

5.00 pm Decision Time and insert

5.15 pm Decision Time.

Thank you, Mr Fraser. Your point has been noted.

As members might have noted from the business motion, there will be no members’ business debate at lunchtime today. This afternoon’s business will start with portfolio questions at 1.30 and decision time is scheduled to take place at 5.15. It is also worth highlighting that although the schedule contains timings, they all follow on from the preceding business. Members should therefore keep an eye on the time. If they are due to be in the chamber to move amendments they should not rely on the preceding business taking the full amount of time that has been allocated to it.