Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

– in the Scottish Parliament at 2:25 pm on 30 May 2024.

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Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party 2:25, 30 May 2024

The next item of business is stage 3 proceedings on the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill. In dealing with the amendments, members should have the bill as amended at stage 2—that is, Scottish Parliament bill 47A—the marshalled list and the groupings of amendments.

The division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for around five minutes for the first division of stage 3. The period of voting for the first division will be 45 seconds. Thereafter, I will allow a voting period of one minute for the first division after a debate. Members who wish to speak in the debate on any group of amendments should press their request-to-speak button or enter RTS in the chat function as soon as possible after I call the group. Members should now refer to the marshalled list of amendments.

Section 2—Meaning of “relevant offence”

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

Group 1 is on the meaning of “relevant offence”: scope of affected persons. Amendment 4, in the name of Pauline McNeill, is grouped with amendments 5 to 7. I call Martin Whitfield to move amendment 4 and to speak to all amendments in the group.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

I extend apologies from Pauline McNeill to you, Deputy Presiding Officer, and to members for being inconvenienced and unable to speak in person this afternoon. I hope that members will accept her apologies.

I thank the cabinet secretary and her team, because I understand that discussions have taken place about the amendments in this group. I hope that positions can be placed on the record that will satisfy people outside the chamber and, indeed, Pauline McNeill.

The amendments deal with a group of cases in which the Horizon evidence has been used to obtain convictions. The question is whether those are covered by the proposed legislation. The amendments seek to extend, to clarify and to make clear that no cases are able to slip through the net.

There is one case in particular that Pauline McNeill has been dealing with, which I know the cabinet secretary is aware of—indeed, I think that there have been press reports on and coverage of that specific case today. It involves a family business. The individual was not a sub-postmaster but chose to plead guilty on the basis that the Horizon evidence could not be challenged. They were told that the Horizon evidence was completely reliable and that there was, in effect, no way out.

Such cases illustrate that a number of victims of the faulty Horizon system beyond postmasters and sub-postmasters exist. Pauline McNeill thanks the cabinet secretary for an exchange of letters and follow-up meetings that have sought to clarify the provisions that are already contained in the bill and that they will extend to cover that particular case.

I understand that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has written to 80 people across Scotland who have been convicted on the basis of flawed Horizon evidence, but contact has not been made by a group of those people in any way, shape or form, so their status continues to remain in question. Beyond those 80 people, there might be others for whom the Horizon evidence was used to obtain a conviction, but that did not relate to a postmaster or a sub-postmaster. It would be helpful to know what is being done to try to identify those individuals.

On that basis, I will move amendment 4. However, I may alter my view, subject to what is said on the record.

I move amendment 4.

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party 3:00, 30 May 2024

It is clear that Pauline McNeill and Mr Whitfield want to ensure that we carefully consider the issue of who should be included within the conditions of section 2 and thus have their convictions quashed. However, I am unable to support the amendments in this group. I was grateful to have the opportunity for a further meeting with Ms McNeill yesterday to explain the Government’s position and to continue the dialogue that I had been having with her, following correspondence that she told me had helpfully clarified the matters that she had raised.

The impact of the bill will be to quash convictions. Therefore, as a point of principle, the conditions that must be satisfied to allow that to happen should be drawn as narrowly as possible, to provide a clear link to the work and business of the post office. I note that, in its briefing for stage 3 of the bill, the Law Society of Scotland also said that the conditions should be narrowly drafted to avoid catching too many convictions that are not caused by the failure of the Horizon system.

The amendments in this group would result in the removal of two of the five conditions in section 2, and would replace those with one new condition. As a result, there would no longer be any need for a person whose conviction is quashed to come within a particular category of person connected to a post office. Instead, any offence by any person would be caught, if it had a type of connection specified in paragraph (a) or (b) of the new condition.

The requirement in the new paragraph (b) is particularly problematic, because it does not require a connection between the offence and the post office business; it requires a connection between the offence and

“a person working in a post office ... for the purposes of a post office business.”

That would result in the condition being drawn too widely, the impact of which might be to quash convictions, even where the convicted person was not at all involved in working in a post office. According to one interpretation, the offence need not even be connected to the post office business, but only to a person who happens to work in a post office.

Even on a narrower reading, amendment 6 is still problematic. For example, if someone stole money from a postmaster’s till, that would be an offence committed in connection with a person working in a post office for the purpose of the post office business, but that is not the type of case that we are trying to capture.

The requirement that the person be someone who was “carrying on” or “working in” a post office business is a fundamental element of the definition of a relevant offence. However, as I said at stage 2, that vital connection can be established either through

“carrying on a post office business”

or through working there

“whether under a contract of employment or otherwise”.

That is wide enough to cover those who work there to help friends or family with actual post office business. It does not matter whether no formal contract was in place.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

I am grateful for the cabinet secretary’s explanation. Is it her understanding that the connection that a person can have to the post office could be far wider than simply by a contract of employment but might be through an association with the business, such as ownership of the property or a share in the profits and losses? Would that make the connection strong enough to bring it within the scope of the bill, even if amendment 6 is not agreed to?

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

The short answer to Mr Whitfield’s question is that having the five conditions that I have laid out in the bill, as opposed to replacing two of those conditions with one new one, which is, as I have already highlighted, problematic, will give far more assurance and will appropriately capture the cases that he and Ms McNeill are particularly concerned about.

For the avoidance of doubt, I will recap what I said earlier and at stage 2. The vital connection can be established either through

“carrying on a post office business”

or working there

“whether under a contract of employment or otherwise”.

That is wide enough to cover those who work there to help friends or family for actual post office business and it does not matter if no formal contract was in place.

Although we talk about sub-postmasters when talking about the bill, we do so because that is the focus here. The bill is broader than that: it covers those who were working for the post office, formally or otherwise, and were alleged to have committed the offence in connection with that work. The amendments would open up a greater risk of automatically quashing convictions that are not related to the aim of the bill, which is, of course, to capture Horizon cases.

I reiterate the point that I made last week that, in any situations that fall outside the criteria in the bill, the correct mechanism is for the cases to be considered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for referral to the High Court. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and the High Court would be able to consider any case and the link between the failures of the Horizon system and the offence. I therefore urge the member not to press amendment 4.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

I call Martin Whitfield to wind up and to indicate whether he wishes to press or seek to withdraw amendment 4.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

I reiterate my thanks to the cabinet secretary. Over a short period of time, with what is, at some levels, an incredibly complex piece of legislation in the way that it interacts with human beings who have been caught up in the scandal, the work of this Parliament has been shown at its very best.

Given the assurances that have been made and, in particular, the very clear explanation about how the legislation covers those who are not specifically postmasters, I seek leave to withdraw amendment 4.

Amendment 4, by agreement, withdrawn.

Amendments 5 to 7 not moved.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

Group 2 is on the meaning of “relevant offence”: Horizon system in use. Amendment 1, in the name of the cabinet secretary, is grouped with amendment 2.

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

Amendments 1 and 2 seek to amend condition E in section 2. Condition E is one of the five conditions that has to be met for a conviction to be considered a relevant conviction and to be quashed by the legislation. The same amendment was moved by Lord Offord of Garvel last week. It was passed and the provision is now in the United Kingdom act.

Amendment 1 is a minor and technical amendment that favours victims of the Horizon scandal and reflects the UK act, which shows that we were right to wait for the Westminster bill’s final passage.

As it is currently drafted, condition E requires that

“the Horizon system was being used for the purposes of the post office business”

at the time of the alleged offence. It does not contemplate the possibility of an offence being alleged to have been committed during a period in which the Horizon system was in use in the post office business for some, but not all, of that period. The amendments would ensure that, where the offence was alleged to be committed over a period or on unknown dates that fall within a period, there is no requirement for the Horizon system to have been in use in the post office business for all of the period in question, provided that it was in use for at least some of that period. That is consistent with condition A, which requires that

“the offence was alleged to have been committed—

(a) on a date or dates falling within the period that begins with 23 September 1996 and ends with 31 December 2018, or

(b) at any time during a period that falls wholly or partly within the period”.

Essentially, the principle in condition A is also applied to condition E by the amendments, meaning that, where there is a continuing offence over a period of time, or where it was alleged to be committed during a particular period, provided that Horizon was in use for some of that period, it does not matter that it was not in use for all of it.

I move amendment 1.

Amendment 1 agreed to.

Amendment 2 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

After section 6

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

Group 3 is on a report on the operation of the act. Amendment 3, in the name of the cabinet secretary, is the only amendment in the group.

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

My amendment 3 provides for a reporting duty to be placed on the Scottish ministers. I thank Russell Findlay, Sharon Dowey and Fergus Ewing for raising the issue at stage 2 and for discussing the matter with me this week. As Mr Findlay has supported the amendment, I trust that it satisfies the aim that he previously tried to achieve.

We are taking an unprecedented step in quashing convictions by legislation, and it is important that we let the Parliament and the public know and understand how the legislation has operated in practice. The amendment requires the Scottish ministers to

“prepare ... publish”

and

“lay ... before ... Parliament ... a report on the operation of”

the act

“as soon as reasonably practicable”,

one year after the act comes into force. That period will allow the Scottish ministers to report on the act’s operation at a point when we expect the vast majority of quashed convictions to have been identified. The report should therefore provide comprehensive information on the act’s impact.

I also give a commitment today that I will provide the Criminal Justice Committee with an update on the bill’s operation in about six months, halfway between commencement and the report’s publication. That means that Parliament can be reassured about the steps that the Scottish ministers are taking to carry out their duties of identifying those whose convictions have been quashed and notifying them, and the courts, ahead of the report next year.

Amendment 3 contains the detail of the information that we will, by law, have to provide in that report. The Scottish ministers will have to provide the number of convictions that have been notified to the court under the duty in section 4(2). That basically means that there is a duty to report on the number of known cases of convictions being quashed.

The report will also be required to specify the number of convictions where a person has been notified under section 4(4) that the Scottish ministers have identified the conviction as having been quashed. We will also be required to provide information on

“the steps taken by the Scottish Ministers to ... identify the convictions”

and to

“give notifications”.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

Amendment 3, which is welcome, specifies that a report should be produced after one year. I do not wish to seek to amend a proposed amendment but, if questions arose in the reporting period about on-going problems, would the Government undertake to carry on with that reporting for the purposes of parliamentary scrutiny?

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

Yes—that is part of my day-to-day duty. I hope that I can convey to members that, as we progress with the identification and notification of those whose convictions have been automatically quashed, we will be superalert to any difficulties in that process. We will give details about the processes that we have to follow to do that, and we have engaged with organisations such as the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to obtain that information.

The amendment specifies the requirements that the report must meet. When the report is being collated, I will consider what further information we could usefully include that would help to provide a greater understanding of the operation of legislation and its impact on sub-postmasters in Scotland. I hope that that also reassures Mr Whitfield.

When I met Mr Findlay, he asked whether we would be able to, for instance, provide information on the numbers of those whose convictions were quashed who have since died. There are good reasons not to put that in the text of the legislation. If we were, for example, unable to contact an individual or their representative and we needed to resort to contacting someone who was associated with them, we might not necessarily know whether the individual had died.

However, there will be cases where we are aware that an individual has died because we are sending the notification to their personal representatives. I will therefore consider, at the time of reporting, whether we can publish the information that we have by giving further breakdown of the notifications that are given under section 4(4). I hope that members will support amendment 3, which delivers on the very good intentions of the reporting amendments that Mr Ewing and Mr Findlay lodged at stage 2.

I move amendment 3.

Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative 3:15, 30 May 2024

At stage 2 last week, my colleague Sharon Dowey and I lodged three probing amendments, and the justice secretary duly gave them a probe and declared two of them to be unnecessary and/or incompetent, in the nicest possible way. For the interest of members, I note that one amendment would have required ministers to notify the next of kin if a person whose conviction was quashed had died, and one amendment would have introduced a criminal penalty against those who did not comply with the request for information. To cut a long story short, I was persuaded that neither amendment was needed and I did not press them, which was a victory for probing.

That left our amendment 22, which would have required ministers to produce a post-legislative report. I was pleased when the cabinet secretary expressed an interest in the amendment while suggesting that it needed additional work, and I was grateful to accept her invitation to probe further. The result of that is today’s amendment 3, which is based on my old amendment 22, along with Fergus Ewing’s amendment 18. Amendment 3 will require ministers to report to Parliament as soon as possible after the legislation is passed.

There are some differences from the stage 2 attempts, which the cabinet secretary has already explained in detail. In summary, the provisions have undergone tweaks to ensure competency. One such improvement has been the Government’s agreement not only to lay the report before Parliament but to publish it.

I am grateful that, in speaking to the amendment, the cabinet secretary made two separate commitments—to me and to Mr Ewing. She made a commitment to me that the report should seek to include, where that is possible, details about how many cleared sub-postmasters are now deceased and, to Mr Ewing, that she would come to the Criminal Justice Committee within one year of royal assent. I also welcome the additional commitment that she made to Martin Whitfield.

Amendment 3 is about transparency, and Scotland’s scores—possibly hundreds—of Post Office victims deserve no less. I am happy to support amendment 3.

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

Although I have no further comments about probing, Parliament nonetheless has my commitment that we will do whatever we can at the time that the report is published to provide information that is useful and helpful in promoting understanding of the bill’s impact.

I consider that amendment 3, as it has been lodged, strikes the right balance in outlining what the Scottish ministers must publish as a minimum. When I return to the Criminal Justice Committee in about six months’ time, there may well be further discussions and asks of the Government.

Amendment 3 agreed to.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

Group 4 is on reviews in relation to miscarriages of justice. Amendment 8, in the name of Maggie Chapman, is grouped with amendments 9 to 11.

Photo of Maggie Chapman Maggie Chapman Green

I thank the cabinet secretary and her team for all their work on the bill over the past couple of weeks. I am grateful to her for the conversations and correspondence that we have had on various issues and I am grateful to the legislation team for all their work on this emergency legislation.

My amendments deal with three principal issues. The first issue is the legal avenues that exist for the survivors of this injustice who might wish to pursue the individuals or corporations that are responsible for their situation. Such pathways might include, but would not be limited to, actions for malicious prosecution and actions in respect of the human rights of those who have been deprived of a fair trial and of their health, livelihoods and freedom. Those are complex legal issues, and it is not right for those who have already been utterly let down by the legal system to have to navigate them alone. Therefore, my amendment 8 calls on the Scottish Government to produce a review of those options.

Neither is it right that survivors who are seeking justice should effectively be barred from doing so by the immense cost, both financial and emotional, of complex civil proceedings. Amendment 9 therefore asks the Government to review what support is available in the circumstances and to consider whether further resources should be made available.

On the second issue, as I and others have reiterated throughout this process, we need, collectively, to look at causes as well as consequences. The second issue is therefore what we can do to ensure, as far as we can, that this never happens again. Amendment 10 would require the Scottish Government to produce a review of the legal processes that led to such egregious miscarriages of justice and to consider, with the expert assistance of the Scottish Law Commission, whether any changes in the law are necessary. That might include factors such as the powers of bodies such as the Post Office or other agencies to bring prosecutions, the evidential thresholds that are required for prosecution and the legal issues that are raised by the interaction of corporate failings in accountability and transparency with the interests of justice.

The Scottish Law Commission is an independent body that takes its own decisions as to what areas of work it engages in, but amendment 10 would not require the commission to adopt this area as a priority; it would only require the Government to seek the commission’s help. It would be entirely up to the commission how it would respond to that request.

The third issue is what powers and remedies are available to prosecutors in Scotland to pursue those who are responsible for these miscarriages of justice. Amendment 11 would require the Government to report on the issue and to consider, again with the expert assistance of the Scottish Law Commission, whether we need any changes in the law in that regard. Again, I am fully aware and respectful of the independence of the Scottish Law Commission, and I reiterate that the amendments would not in any way fetter its exercise of independent judgment and prioritisation.

I move amendment 8.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

I rise to speak to the amendments, and amendment 10 in particular, which I thank Maggie Chapman for lodging.

It came as a shock to a number of our constituents to discover that there are bodies that have powers to prosecute and bodies that have powers to provide evidence on which prosecutions are based. One of the true tragedies here is how that position can be exploited and used, even when there has been clear evidence of miscarriages of justice over a number of years.

I support amendment 10 and I highlight that we must take from this matter a lesson-learned principle. It is a strong suggestion that, in discussion with the Scottish Law Commission, work could be done to consider where our law sits and to look at changing the relevant law to ensure that, on the advice of others, the Scottish Parliament is able, in the not-too-distant future, to prevent a further tragedy, such as we have had with Horizon, from happening.

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

As I said at stage 2, I absolutely recognise the desire for those who were responsible for this unprecedented miscarriage of justice to be held to account. However, as Ms Chapman is aware, I am unable to support her amendments.

The purpose of the bill is deliberately quite narrow: it is to deliver action to ensure that those who havew been affected by wrongful convictions can receive justice by having those convictions quashed, thus enabling them to access compensation from the United Kingdom Government Post Office schemes. It is not for the bill to conduct a wholesale review of the Horizon scandal. That process is already under way in a more fitting arena.

The Post Office Horizon information technology inquiry, led by retired High Court judge Sir Wyn Williams, was established to provide a clear account of the implementation and failings of the Horizon system—the causes and consequences. It is being supported by evidence from relevant organisations in a Scottish context.

The establishment of an inquiry was supported by the Scottish Government. It is the correct process for findings and recommendations as to further action that is required. There are more than 200 specific issues listed on the inquiry website, reflecting the key themes on which the inquiry intends to focus its investigative work. That includes investigations and prosecutions. My predecessor, Keith Brown, resolved with the UK Government in 2022 that the scope of the inquiry should be extended to cover Scottish cases.

The inquiry is currently in phases 5 and 6 of its public hearings. Phase 7, which will focus on current practice and procedure and recommendations for the future, is anticipated to begin in September of this year. The Scottish ministers will of course look closely at the final findings of the inquiry and any recommendations that emerge from it. Furthermore, the Lord Advocate gave a similar undertaking on behalf of the Crown Office when she addressed the chamber on 16 May.

I turn to the details of the amendments. Amendment 8 directs Scottish ministers to review the options that are available for agencies or individuals to pursue legal action. In relation to agencies, I remind members that the systems for investigating and prosecuting criminal activity are, rightly, independent of ministers. A review will not alter that situation, nor would it be appropriate for ministers to seek to instruct the police or the Crown to act in a particular way in relation to an individual case or class of cases.

In relation to individuals, the difficulty that Scottish ministers would face in carrying out such a review is that any given action that an individual might be able to take would be highly dependent on the facts and circumstances of their case. Without being able to go into specific details, it is likely that any resultant report would be insufficiently detailed to be of meaningful assistance. It should also be borne in mind that the proposed UK Government compensation scheme is designed to provide redress to those individuals who have had their convictions quashed without the need to go through further lengthy court processes.

Amendment 9 would require ministers to review the support that is available to enable people to pursue legal action. As with amendment 8, it is entirely likely that that support will vary from case to case, based on personal circumstances, and it is difficult to see how such a review would help on an individual basis. There are, of course, a range of existing support systems.

Amendment 10 would require a review of the legal processes by which persons were convicted. Again, that work is already in hand. As the Lord Advocate indicated when she addressed the chamber on 16 May, work is under way to strengthen the guidance and safeguards that exist to ensure that all specialist reporting agencies abide by the essential duties of disclosure and candour in reporting cases for prosecution. As part of that work, the Post Office Ltd has already been deemed to be no longer fit to be a specialist reporting agency and is therefore no longer able to investigate and report criminal allegations directly to the court.

Finally, amendment 11 would require a review of the options available to allow for the prosecution of those who are responsible for these particular miscarriages of justice. Fundamental legal principles mean that changes to the law that introduce new criminal offences cannot be made with retrospective effect. It is possible that the intention of the amendment is for a future-looking lessons-learned review, but any change would not be relevant to the sub-postmasters whom we are concerned with. In any event, I do not believe that there are gaps in the current law in this area, and it is unclear what such a review would achieve. Furthermore, it is not for ministers to investigate criminal offences; that is rightly the domain of an independent prosecutorial system.

I fundamentally agree that lessons should and must be learned from this scandal, but I say to members that that work is already being carried out by the appropriate bodies. The reviews that are envisaged by the amendments in the group would not materially add to that, but might have the unintended consequence of getting people’s hopes up in vain, thereby serving only to drag matters out further at even greater cost to the public purse. As such, I respectfully invite Ms Chapman not to press her amendments, and if she does, I ask members to vote against them.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

I call Maggie Chapman to wind up and to press or seek to withdraw amendment 8.

Photo of Maggie Chapman Maggie Chapman Green

I will be brief. First, I thank Martin Whitfield for his supportive comments. I am disappointed that the cabinet secretary has taken the position that she has taken. This emergency legislation is about justice for those who are wrongly convicted in the Post Office Horizon scandal, but justice does not begin and end with the quashing of their convictions. We believe that it is right that we provide information and support for those who wish to seek justice beyond the quashing of their convictions—for instance, in relation to malicious prosecutions and other legal remedies.

None of my amendments would require the Scottish ministers to instruct any agency to act in a certain way or to investigate criminal offences, so the concerns that the cabinet secretary has raised in her remarks are not what my amendments are about. The amendments are about providing information and support for legal redress for the survivors of these miscarriages of justice.

I press amendment 8.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 8 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members::

No.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

There will be a division. As this is the first division of stage 3, I suspend for around five minutes to allow members to access the digital voting system.

Meeting suspended.

On resuming—

Division number 1 Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 19 MSPs

No: 89 MSPs

No: A-Z by last name

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party 3:36, 30 May 2024

The result of the division is: For 19, Against 89, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 8 disagreed to.

Amendment 9 moved—[Maggie Chapman].

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 9 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members::

No.

Division number 2 Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 20 MSPs

No: 88 MSPs

No: A-Z by last name

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party 3:36, 30 May 2024

The result of the division is: For 20, Against 88, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 9 disagreed to.

Amendment 10 moved—[Maggie Chapman].

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 10 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members::

No.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

There will be a division. Members should cast their vote now.

The vote is now closed.

I call Foysol Choudhury for a point of order.

Mr Choudhury, do you seek to make a point of order? If it is of any help, I can say that your vote has been recorded.

Division number 3 Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 20 MSPs

No: 89 MSPs

No: A-Z by last name

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party 3:36, 30 May 2024

The result of the division is: For 20, Against 89, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 10 disagreed to.

Amendment 11 moved—[Maggie Chapman].

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 11 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members::

No.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

There will be a division. Members should cast their vote now.

The vote is now closed.

I call George Adam for a point of order. We need Mr Adam’s microphone on. Does Mr Adam have his card in?

Members::

Oh!

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I apologise, Presiding Officer. That never happens to me.

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. My voting app did not work. I would have voted no.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

Thank you. Your vote will be recorded.

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I have a connection issue. I would have voted yes.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

Thank you. Your vote will be recorded.

Division number 4 Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 18 MSPs

No: 90 MSPs

No: A-Z by last name

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party 3:36, 30 May 2024

The result of the division is: For 18, Against 90, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 11 disagreed to.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

That ends consideration of amendments.

As members will be aware, the Presiding Officer is required, under standing orders, to decide whether, in her view, any provision of a bill relates to a protected subject matter—that is, whether it modifies the electoral system and franchise for Scottish parliamentary elections. In the Presiding Officer’s view, no provision of the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill relates to a protected subject matter. Therefore, the bill does not require a supermajority in order for it to be passed at stage 3.