Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament on 27th April 2022.

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Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S6M-04176, in the name of George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, on setting out a business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees—

(a) the following programme of business—

Tuesday 3 May 2022

2.00 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Topical Questions (if selected) followed by Stage 1 Debate: Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill followed by Financial Resolution: Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (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 4 May 2022

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm General Questions

2.20 pm First Minister’s Questions

3.05 pm Portfolio Questions:

Health and Social Care; Social Justice,

Housing and Local Government;

Constitution, External Affairs and Culture followed by Scottish Government Debate: National Walking Month – Improving Health and Strengthening Communities followed by Business Motions followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.30 pm Decision Time followed by Members’ Business

Tuesday 10 May 2022

2.00 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Topical Questions (if selected) followed by Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee Debate: Inquiry into the Scottish Government’s international work followed by Committee Announcements followed by Business Motions followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members’ Business

Wednesday 11 May 2022

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Portfolio Questions:

Justice and Veterans;

Finance and the Economy followed by Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Business followed by Business Motions followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.10 pm Decision Time followed by Members’ Business

Thursday 12 May 2022

11.40 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions

11.40 am General Questions

12.00 pm First Minister's Questions followed by Members’ Business

2.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.30 pm Portfolio Questions:

Education and Skills followed by Stage 1 Debate: Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members’ Business

(b) that, for the purposes of Portfolio Questions in the week beginning 2 May 2022, 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.—[George Adam]

The Presiding Officer:

I now call Jamie Greene to speak to, and move amendment S6M-04176.1, for up to five minutes.

Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

I thank members for their forbearance on the comments that I would like to make.

We have been asked today to approve a stage 1 debate on the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill next Tuesday. The standing orders of Parliament are clear and state that a stage 1 report must be published at least five sitting days before Parliament considers the general principles of a bill.

Rule 9.6, paragraph 3A, of the standing orders states that

“The lead committee shall report to the Parliament in time to allow the report to be published not later than the fifth sitting day before any date allocated in a business programme for the Parliament to consider the general principles of the Bill under paragraph 4. The Parliament shall not consider the general principles of the Bill earlier than the fifth sitting day after the lead committee report is published unless it decides to do so on a motion of any member.”

There will be no full sitting days of Parliament between the stage 1 report’s suspected publication date and the stage 1 debate—none. To be clear, the stage 1 report has not even been published yet, as it is still being drafted by Criminal Justice Committee clerks as we speak—much to their credit. The Parliament is asked simply to breach standing orders for no obvious reason. If the Government has a good reason for that breach, it has not been made clear to us.

We have proved that, as a Parliament, we are more than capable of truncating the scrutiny process for emergency legislation, and I agree with that being done. However, there is no emergency here—none whatsoever. Indeed, I have proposed in my amendment another use for that debating slot. That is my first point.

The second point is that I am in the ludicrous position in which I want to tell the chamber why we should not have the stage 1 report next week due to the contents of the report, but I am restricted from talking about the report because it has not even been published yet. I can say to members, however, that it is at least 70 pages long and contains a large number of detailed technical responses to the bill as proposed by the Government, all of which require detailed scrutiny and analysis.

My third and final point is more than just procedural, as important as procedure is. It is that all members and stakeholders outside Parliament who participated in the consultation and gave evidence to the committee need time to digest the contents of the report and, more importantly, that I want to hear their feedback on the committee’s conclusions and recommendations that are contained therein. That is how we legislate, and how we legislate well.

It is not just Tory members who are deeply uncomfortable about the truncated timetable that is being forced upon us to scrutinise and pass the bill.

Presiding Officer, although decisions on the timetabling of debates is a matter for members to vote on, as we will do, are you comfortable for Parliament to breach standing orders for no good reason, as the Government is asking it to do? Can you intervene in any way to ensure that we do not breach standing orders on timetabling?

Finally, I make an appeal to members who have heard and followed my remarks. There is wide-ranging consensus on and support for the Government and what the bill seeks to achieve, which have been given in good faith that we would be afforded the time that is needed to make good law and to scrutinise it properly. Let us do our job properly. I ask members to support my amendment and give us much more time to digest the stage 1 report, and thereby to have a full and informed stage 1 debate within the normal timetable that people expect from us and—more important—that standing orders ask of us.

I move, as an amendment to motion S6M-04176, in the name of George Adam on a business programme, to leave out

“followed by Stage 1 Debate: Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill followed by Financial Resolution: Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill" and insert—

“followed by Scottish Government Debate: Long COVID”.

The Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Mr Greene. The Parliamentary Bureau makes recommendations to the Parliament. The Parliament has an opportunity to debate those recommendations, which it is doing, and the Parliament will vote on what it has heard.

I now call Pauline McNeill. You have up to five minutes, Ms McNeill.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

Presiding Officer, Labour will support the amendment to the business motion. I would like it to be noted, however, that that is no reflection whatsoever on the hard work of the committee members.

As Jamie Greene set out, the Criminal Justice Committee was asked to scrutinise the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill using a fast-tracked timetable so that we could bring in the new much-needed offence of supplying fireworks to a person who is under the age of 18 in enough time for the November bonfire season. I agreed, while not fully realising that other aspects of the bill would require much deeper scrutiny than was first thought, including aspects in the stage 1 report that was signed off today around the complexities in the creation of a new licensing scheme, which will require close consideration.

Had I known that the Government would not allow for the usual five days prior to the stage 1 debate, as is required under standing orders, I would have made more objections in the first place against a shortened timetable for completion of the stage 1 report. It does not set a good precedent not to comply with standing order rule 9.6.3A.

As Jamie Greene has done for his party, I place on the record that we support the intentions of the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill, and commend the work of the Government and stakeholders. However, we must be prepared to uphold the integrity of the scrutiny process, and it should not be squeezed into a stage 1 debate on Tuesday when stakeholders will not have had time to respond, and we only have the Government’s promise that we will see what it has to say before we have that debate. It is quite unprecedented that the committee report will be published tomorrow afternoon, as the May day holiday is a potential barrier to many who will want to brief members of Parliament who might want to take part in the debate. It is completely unsatisfactory.

The debate could be held on Wednesday; I am not clear why it cannot be. This is one of the first pieces of legislation that has been made in session 6 of the Parliament, and we should be seen to be treating it with respect.

The committee struggled to get data on the crime of fireworks misuse—on which I think the Parliament is unanimous—so that it can understand the picture across Scotland. The data came so late that we cannot influence the stage 1 reports.

Members can see that many factors are making it difficult for the committee to properly scrutinise this important bill. It is therefore unhelpful that, at the end of the process, the Government has chosen to give us no time to consider our response to the report. I hope that there is a way of saying how we intend to go forward in this parliamentary session, which is still in its early stages, and that we will do the right thing and oppose the business motion. Let us let stakeholders give a proper response to the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill. Let us scrutinise it properly. I ask all members, please, not to make an assumption that, just because there is a stage 1 report, the Government has got everything right. I assure members that they will want to discuss quite a number of things when they see the report.

The Presiding Officer:

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

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I will endeavour to put the minds of colleagues in the Opposition parties at ease on the matter.

The Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill is extremely important to many of our constituents, as most of us will be aware. Every now and then, a bill comes along that deals with problems that constituents have, and the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill is one such bill. It is because it is an extremely important bill that we all agreed that the timetable should be as it was. We wanted to help the many constituents who have such problems and have to deal with the antisocial behaviour that happens through use of fireworks.

I am led to believe that all the members of the Criminal Justice Committee believe in the fundamentals of the bill at stage 1, and I do not think that anything has been said today that says otherwise. The crux of the matter will come when we move on to stage 2, when members of the Opposition parties will have an opportunity to contribute and to ensure that they get across their points. My whole idea was to ensure that we had plenty of time for stage 2 within the truncated timetable.

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I ask the member to let me continue.

The bill is very important to our constituents, and we must do our utmost to ensure that it delivers for them.

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I ask the member to listen for a wee bit longer. There are clear practical advantages to the process of parliamentary scrutiny of the bill concluding in advance of the summer recess, for the reasons that I have already mentioned.

Given the fireworks-related issues that are faced every year by our communities, stakeholders and—significantly—the emergency services, it is important that we progress the positive changes and introduce the restrictions that are proposed in the bill as soon as possible, in order to reduce incidents and harm. The proposed timetable will enable the proxy-purchase provision to be implemented in time for the bonfire period this year, and it has been agreed with the committee.

On that basis, the committee’s stage 1 report will be published on the morning of Thursday 28 April, and the Minister for Community Safety intends to provide the Scottish Government’s response to the committee’s report on Monday 2 May. The proposed timetable will also enable work to operationalise the remaining provisions in the bill to start immediately following royal assent, so that positive change will be in place for people and communities as soon as possible. I make a plea to members not to forget that it is the people whom we represent who are the important ones, here.

On that note, I hope that I have managed to put my colleagues’ minds at rest and allay their concerns.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. An amendment has been lodged in Parliament concerning a breach of standing orders in relation to the five-day requirement. Although the minister responded on other issues, he did not give Parliament an explanation of why it is necessary to breach standing orders. I have yet to hear what the minister has to say about that. Why could he not have scheduled the debate for Wednesday? If he had done that, an amendment to the motion would probably not have been lodged. Surely any member who speaks in such a debate must address the substantive point and not dance around it.

The Presiding Officer:

I thank the member for her point of order. It is, of course, always a matter of courtesy and respect that questions that are put to members are answered.

The standing orders make it possible to vary the period in question. That is the issue that has been debated, and the Parliament is about to make known its view, through voting.

The question is, that amendment S6M-04176.1, in the name of Jamie Greene, which seeks to amend motion S6M-04176, in the name of George Adam, setting out a business programme, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

There will be a division.

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

17:09 Meeting suspended.

17:13 On resuming—

We come to the vote on amendment S6M-04176.1, in the name of Jamie Greene. Members should cast their votes now.

Division number 1 Business Motion

Aye: 47 MSPs

No: 64 MSPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

The Presiding Officer:

The result of the division on amendment S6M-04176.1, in the name of Jamie Greene, which seeks to amend motion S6M-04176, in the name of George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a business programme, is: For 47, Against 64, Abstentions 0.

Amendment disagreed to.

The next question is, that motion S6M-04176, in the name of George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a business programme, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

There will be a division.

Division number 2 Business Motion

Aye: 64 MSPs

No: 47 MSPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

The Presiding Officer:

The result of the division on motion S6M-04176, in the name of George Adam, is: For 64, Against 47, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees—

(a) the following programme of business—

Tuesday 3 May 2022

2.00 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Topical Questions (if selected) followed by Stage 1 Debate: Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill followed by Financial Resolution: Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (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 4 May 2022

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm General Questions

2.20 pm First Minister’s Questions

3.05 pm Portfolio Questions:

Health and Social Care; Social Justice,

Housing and Local Government;

Constitution, External Affairs and Culture followed by Scottish Government Debate: National Walking Month – Improving Health and Strengthening Communities followed by Business Motions followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.30 pm Decision Time followed by Members’ Business

Tuesday 10 May 2022

2.00 pm Time for Reflection followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Topical Questions (if selected) followed by Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee Debate: Inquiry into the Scottish Government’s international work followed by Committee Announcements followed by Business Motions followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members’ Business

Wednesday 11 May 2022

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Portfolio Questions:

Justice and Veterans;

Finance and the Economy followed by Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Business followed by Business Motions followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.10 pm Decision Time followed by Members’ Business

Thursday 12 May 2022

11.40 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions

11.40 am General Questions

12.00 pm First Minister's Questions followed by Members’ Business

2.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.30 pm Portfolio Questions:

Education and Skills followed by Stage 1 Debate: Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by Members’ Business

(b) that, for the purposes of Portfolio Questions in the week beginning 2 May 2022, 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.