Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament on 29th June 2022.

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Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S6M-05254, in the name of George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting out a business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees—

(a) the following programme of business—

Tuesday 6 September 2022

2.00 pm Time for Reflection followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by

Topical Questions (if selected) followed by

Scottish Government Business followed by

Committee Announcements followed by

Business Motions followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by

Members’ Business

Wednesday 7 September 2022

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Portfolio Questions:

Health and Social Care;

Social Justice, Housing and Local Government followed by

Scottish Government Business 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 8 September 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:

Constitution, External Affairs and Culture followed by

Scottish Government Business followed by

Business Motions followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

Tuesday 13 September 2022

2.00 pm Time for Reflection followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions followed by

Topical Questions (if selected) followed by

Scottish Government Business followed by

Committee Announcements followed by

Business Motions followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time followed by

Members’ Business

Wednesday 14 September 2022

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Portfolio Questions:

Justice and Veterans;

Finance and Economy followed by

Scottish Government Business 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 15 September 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

Scottish Government Business followed by

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

(b) that, for the purposes of Portfolio Questions in the week beginning 5 September 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 Deputy Presiding Officer:

I call Stephen Kerr to speak to and move amendment S6M-05254.1.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative

Yesterday, the Scottish National Party and the Greens blocked my attempt to have a statement this week from the Lord Advocate on the legal considerations of the proposed independence referendum. During her statement, the First Minister said:

“I am sure that the Lord Advocate would be more than happy to answer questions from MSPs.”—[

Official Report

, 28 June 2022; c 24.]

However, in response to my amendment, the Minister for Parliamentary Business gave just one reason why that statement could not happen, which was that he was concerned about rule 7.5 of the standing orders and the possibility of breaching the sub judice rule.

In a point of order earlier today, Donald Cameron quite clearly dispelled that concern by pointing out that the rule applies only to active cases. Since no hearing date has been set for the Supreme Court’s consideration of the Lord Advocate’s reference, it is not an active case and therefore cannot breach the law or the standing orders. That fact was confirmed and reinforced by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. Therefore, the only obstacle that is standing in the way of the Lord Advocate delivering a statement tomorrow is gone.

However, at an emergency Parliamentary Bureau meeting this afternoon, the minister said that his legal advice stated otherwise. Who knows whether that was legal advice or a political instruction from the First Minister? Either way, quite frankly, the minister’s opinion is neither here nor there. His stated concern was with the standing orders of the Scottish Parliament. The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament has ruled that the Lord Advocate can come to this chamber tomorrow. If the minister does not accept that, he is, quite simply, questioning the authority of Parliament.

Sadly, it appeared earlier today that the minister was content to take that position when he opted to prevent the Lord Advocate from coming to the chamber. His Government hides from scrutiny at every opportunity. However, I am sure that the Lord Advocate is more than capable of coming to this chamber, making a statement and answering questions before the Scottish Parliament.

It will surprise no one that, at the Parliamentary Bureau today, the SNP and Greens teamed up again to block a parliamentary statement from the Lord Advocate. My amendment corrects that.

Donald Cameron was right in saying that this might be the only chance to have that statement and to question the Lord Advocate. Therefore, I encourage members to be on the right side of this vote.

I move amendment S6M-05254.1, to insert:

“(za) the following revision to the programme of business for Thursday 30 June 2022— after

12.00 pm First Minister’s Questions insert followed by Statement by the Lord Advocate on Independence Referendum Legal Considerations”.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I thank Mr Kerr for speaking to and moving amendment S6M-05254.1. However, as a matter of clarity, I advise members that I was in the chair at the time and I said that the sub judice rule was not engaged until a hearing date was set.

On the separate issue of the Lord Advocate making a statement, I simply said that that was a matter for the Parliamentary Bureau in the first instance. I thought that it would be useful to clarify what I said, which, of course, is a matter of record.

I call the Minister for Parliamentary Business, George Adam, to respond on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau.

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I will make three very important, key points on that issue. First, the Lord Advocate’s reasons for making the reference were explained clearly and fully by the First Minister in her statement yesterday.

Secondly, the substantive issues in the reference are now before the Supreme Court, regardless of the precise application of the standing orders. The court should be allowed to fulfil its function without political discussion of the merits.

Thirdly and finally, the Lord Advocate is not in a position to disclose the content of legal advice that is given to the Government.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, minister.

The question is, that amendment S6M-05254.1, in the name of Stephen Kerr, which seeks to amend motion S6M-05254, in the name of George Adam, which sets out a business programme, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

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

18:29 Meeting suspended.

18:34 On resuming—

The question is, that amendment S6M-05254.1, in the name of Stephen Kerr, which seeks to amend motion S6M-05254, in the name of George Adam, which sets out a business programme, be agreed to. Members should cast their votes now.

The vote is now closed.

Photo of Jenni Minto Jenni Minto Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer.

My app seemed to drop out. I would have voted no.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Minto. In fact, your vote was recorded.

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Just the same, my app—[

Inaudible

.] I would have voted no.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Mr McLennan. Your vote was recorded.

Division number 1 Business Motion

Aye: 47 MSPs

No: 63 MSPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 47, Against 63, Abstentions 0.

Amendment disagreed to.

The next question is, that motion S6M-05254, in the name of George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, which sets out a business programme, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Stephanie Callaghan Stephanie Callaghan Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. My app was not working. I would have voted yes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Callaghan. That will be recorded.

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I was unable to connect, and I would have voted yes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Todd. That will be recorded.

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. My app would not connect. I would have voted yes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you Ms McAllan. Your vote was recorded.

Division number 2 Business Motion

Aye: 63 MSPs

No: 47 MSPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 63, Against 47, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to.