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The Sunday Whip – and a Sunday Re-shuffle

12/12/2010

With the weather taking up much of the Parliament’s time – culminating in yesterday’s resignation of the Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson – very little else made waves.

Indeed, we went back to Consensus Wednesday, with Parliament waving through Stage 1 of Patricia Ferguson’s Property Factors (Scotland) Bill and the National Scenic Areas (Consequential Modifications) (Scotland) Order 2010.

Thursday, however, was Stick It To The Nats Day, with a Labour motion on the Scotland Bill, now beginning its arduous journey through the Westminster Parliament. The weather (among other things) led to 24 absences: Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Baker (North East Scotland), Rhona Brankin (Lab, Midlothian), Aileen Campbell (SNP, South of Scotland), Cathie Craigie (Lab, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth), Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston), Kenneth Gibson (SNP, Cunninghame North), Marlyn Glen (Lab, North East Scotland), Rhoda Grant (Lab, Highlands & Islands), Hugh Henry (LAb, Paisley South), Cathy Jamieson (Lab, Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley), Shadow Finance Secretary Andy Kerr (East Kilbride), Marilyn Livingstone (Lab, Kirkcaldy), Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead (Moray), Shadow Enterprise Minister Lewis Macdonald (Aberdeen Central), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians), Enterprise Minister Jim Mather (Argyll & Bute), LibDem Environment Spokesman Liam McArthur (Orkney), Jack McConnell (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw), Jamie McGrigor (Con, Highlands & Islands), John Farquhar Munro (LD, Ross, Skye & Inverness West), Mike Rumbles (LD, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine), Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP, Lothians), David Stewart (Lab, Highlands & Islands) and Jamie Stone (LD, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross).

They missed the SNP amendment fell, by 62 (everyone else) to 42. The motion itself then passed, by 59 (Lab/Con/LD) to 44 (SNP/Green) with Margaret Mitchell (Con, Central Scotland) breaking ranks and abstaining:

That the Parliament welcomes the introduction of the Scotland Bill in the House of Commons on 30 November 2010; notes that it is based on the recommendations of the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution, which were warmly welcomed by the Parliament on 25 June 2009; supports the general principles of the Bill, which will give the Parliament substantial new taxation, spending and other powers, strengthen its relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom and enable it to serve the people of Scotland better, and calls on the Scottish Government to respond positively and timeously to any requests for assistance or analysis from Scottish Government officials from the committee considering the Bill.

Finally, MSPs noted the European and External Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the Impact of the Treaty of Lisbon on Scotland.

So that was that. Today we learn that two people are going to succeed Stewart Stevenson: Skills Minister Keith Brown is to move to the Transport portfolio – the former military man will not stand for any messing from Transport Scotland. The Climate Change element of Stevenson’s job will shift to the Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham’s job description.

This does, however, create a vacancy at the Skills and Lifelong Learning portfolio, and the plan is for Angela Constance, the MSP for Livingston, to assume the role: the ministerial position for which she has been frequently tipped.

But this has to be approved by Parliament, so that’s going to be the headline business next week.

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