Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th June 2021.

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Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

The next item of business is consideration of motion S6M-00295, in the name of George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a business programme. I call George Adam to move the motion.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees—

(a) the following programme of business—

Tuesday 15 June 2021

2.00 pm Time for Reflection followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by

Topical Questions (if selected) followed by

First Ministers Statement: COVID-19 Update followed by

Scottish Government Debate: Women’s Health followed by

Committee Announcements followed by

Business Motions followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by

Members’ Business

Wednesday 16 June 2021

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Portfolio Questions:

Social Justice, Housing & Local Government;

Constitution, External Affairs & Culture followed by

Scottish Government Debate: Mitigating, Tackling and Responding to the Skills Impact of Brexit followed by

Business Motions followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by

Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by

Members’ Business

Thursday 17 June 2021

12.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

12.00 pm First Minister's Questions

2.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.30 pm Portfolio Questions:

Justice followed by

Scottish Government Debate: Tackling Drug Related Deaths followed by

Business Motions followed by

Parliamentary Bureau

5.00 pm Decision Time

Tuesday 22 June 2021

2.00 pm Time for Reflection followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by

Topical Questions (if selected) followed by

First Minister’s Statement: COVID-19 Update followed by

Stage 1 Debate: Coronavirus Extension and Expiry (Scotland) Bill followed by

Committee Announcements followed by

Business Motions followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by

Members’ Business

Wednesday 23 June 2021

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Portfolio Questions:

Finance and Economy;

Education and Skills followed by

Stage 2 Debate: Coronavirus Extension and Expiry (Scotland) Bill followed by

Business Motions followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by

Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by

Members’ Business

Thursday 24 June 2021

12.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

12.00 pm First Minister's Questions

2.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.30 pm Stage 3 Proceedings: Coronavirus Extension and Expiry (Scotland) Bill followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

(b) that, for the purposes of Portfolio Questions in the week beginning 21 June, in rule 13.7.3, after the word “except” the words “to the extent to which the Presiding Officer considers that the questions are on the same or similar subject matter or” are inserted.

The Presiding Officer:

Stephen Kerr would like to speak to the motion.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative

Today’s business motion includes provisions for the week commencing Monday 21 June, in which time—and not a lot of time—is set aside to consider the proposed coronavirus (extension and expiry) (Scotland) bill. The first notice that we received of the Government’s intention to introduce the bill to Parliament was yesterday, and we were given no details of the contents of the bill other than its name. The bill itself has not yet been published. According to the Deputy First Minister’s statement this afternoon, the bill seeks to extend the immense powers that are contained in the two Scottish Covid acts by six months from October 2021, with a further six-month extension option.

We do not accept the timetabling for the bill that the Government proposes. There is no need for it to be rushed through Parliament in a matter of a few hours. The nature of the pandemic could change significantly over the summer. The measures should be dealt with in September, when we will have a much clearer view of what is required.

The Government, of course, needs to be able to act in the interests of public health and safety, but no parliamentarian would want to see any Government have such unprecedented powers for a moment longer than is necessary. There is no good argument for rushing through this power grab in the space of three days, months ahead of its use, without proper parliamentary scrutiny. That is why we oppose the business motion.

The Presiding Officer:

I have a request to speak from Neil Bibby.

Photo of Neil Bibby Neil Bibby Labour

Scottish Labour will not oppose the business motion tonight, but we still have some concerns. At present, we do not know the full contents of the coronavirus (expiry and extension) (Scotland) bill, and we do not know how many amendments will be lodged at stage 2. As we know from past experience, and given the importance of the legislation, that could be a substantial number of amendments, and we will certainly lodge some in areas such as non-evictions. Sufficient time to consider amendments carefully will be required and we are not in a position to know how much time will be needed and whether it could be done in one day.

Rather than consider the entire bill in the final week in June or the first week in September, we could hold stages 1 and 2 in the last week in June and deal with stage 3 in the first week of September. That would deal with the concerns about timescales and gaining royal assent, and it would also allow us to take account of any changes to circumstances that happen over the summer.

Presiding Officer, you and other members will be aware that there are other opportunities to amend business for the week beginning 21 June, so I reiterate that we will support the motion tonight, but we will seek to raise these issues at the bureau next week. I hope that the Government and all other parties will consider our reasonable suggestions.

The Presiding Officer:

I call George Adam to respond on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau.

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I will try to address everyone’s point of view while, at the same time, trying to be brief, because I have no doubt that everyone is waiting with anticipation for the large number of Scottish statutory instruments that I have to speak to later.

At yesterday’s bureau, we had a discussion about proposed future business. The details that we agreed then were that the Scottish Government would introduce the coronavirus (extension and expiry) (Scotland) bill on 18 June and take the bill through its stages from 22 June to 24 June to maximise the time for scrutiny. That is a change from previous emergency bills, which were all done on one day.

Stage 1 would be on Tuesday 22 June, stage 2 would be on Wednesday 23 June and stage 3 would be on Thursday 24 June. I would be quite happy to extend the business days, should that be needed, as longer business days prior to recess are not that unusual.

I cannot agree with Mr Kerr’s proposal on behalf of the Conservatives, and I do not believe that he addresses the challenges that we currently face. Mr Kerr’s inexperience in the matters of how this place works is perhaps showing, as it will obviously not be a couple of hours of debate over a day—that is sheer hyperbole and not the reality of the situation.

I appreciate Neil Bibby’s contribution and the helpful tone in which he put forward the Labour Party’s position, but I feel that his solution could unintentionally cause further problems.

At the bureau, Patrick Harvie, on behalf of the Greens, broadly agreed with the Scottish Government’s proposal while making his own points on timings.

We face a number of challenges. If we take into account the time needed for royal assent, if the bill is not introduced and passed by the end of June, we run the very serious risk of provisions expiring on 30 September and temporary measures that are enabling public authorities to continue to operate in the pandemic falling away. If we do not pass the bill before the summer recess, citizens and public authorities will have significantly less time to respond to the changes before they come into effect at the end of September.

The bill does not introduce any new provisions; it merely removes those that are no longer necessary and extends expiry dates to March 2022, to ensure that public bodies can continue to operate while public health measures remain in place.

I hope that everyone feels that I have listened to their points of view, and I hope that we agree to what was proposed at the bureau yesterday.

The Presiding Officer:

The question is, that motion S6M-00295, in the name of George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a business motion, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Presiding Officer:

There will be a division. There will be a short suspension to allow members to access the digital voting system.

17:36 Meeting suspended.

17:41 On resuming—

The question is, that motion S6M-00295, be agreed to. Are we agreed? Oh—of course we are not, which is why members should cast their votes now.

Division number 1 Business Motion

Aye: 87 MSPs

No: 32 MSPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

The Presiding Officer:

The result of the division on motion S6M-00295, in the name of George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a business programme, is: For 87, Against 32, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to.