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I support Pauline McNeill’s amendments 172 and 173. If we do not support them, we will give a free hand to owners of private parking facilities to pursue the owner of a car, rather than the driver at the time of an offence, for the value of a fine. The driver at the time of the offence could be a family member, friend, colleague or anyone else who was insured and had permission to drive the car. Their deliberate or inadvertent parking on a site might result in a parking ticket being issued. However, if the perpetrator could not be identified, the vehicle owner would cop for the cost of the fine.
No one is saying that no one should be held accountable for an infringement, but the right person has to be held accountable. If it is not the right person being held accountable, that is fundamentally wrong. It is like saying that we could not identify the bank robber but we know who owns the getaway car, so they are going down for the crime. That is fundamentally wrong.
The cabinet secretary rightly complained about Jeremy Balfour not lodging his amendment at stage 2, but the provision in section 58U did not exist at stage 1, but came absolutely out of the blue through Murdo Fraser introducing a members’ bill into this bill with no scrutiny whatsoever, which is ludicrous.
I ask members to support Pauline McNeill’s amendments to remove a potentially bad piece of law from the bill. If we do not, all MSPs will be approached by constituents with cases of their being held liable for offences that they have not committed.
I ask Scottish National Party members in particular whether they will join the Tories today to give the power in question to owners of private companies. Will they support—of all people—Murdo Fraser? That is what they are being asked to do. I ask them to support the amendments in Pauline McNeill’s name and to throw out the provision in section 58U.