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The Sunday Whip

23/01/2011

This was a surprisingly consensual week: Wednesday passed by with no votes even needed, and only one motion shattered the peace on Friday. Clearly, with Stage 1 of the Budget looming, everyone was conserving their strength.

So on Wednesday, the Business Motions were waved through, along with Stage 1 of Rhoda Grant’s Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill. MSPs also noted the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee’s Report on the public sector’s support for exporters, international trade and the attraction of inward investment and a pair of Committee membership changes.

Thursday saw a little more meat, mainly as a result of Green Party business. There were 11 absentees: Rhona Brankin (Lab, Midlothian), Aileen Campbell (SNP, South of Scotland), Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston), Cathy Jamieson (Lab, Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley), Labour Group Deputy Leader Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok), Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead (Moray), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians), Stewart Maxwell (SNP, West of Scotland), Christina McKelvie (SNP, Central Scotland), Shadow Culture Minister Pauline McNeill (Glasgow Kelvin) and LibDem Leader Tavish Scott (Shetland).

They missed the Green motion on protecting public services. An SNP amendment passed by 74 (SNP/Con/LD) votes to 43 (Lab/Green), pre-empting the Labour amendment. The Tory amendment fell by 100 votes to 16 – Shadow Public Health Minister Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland & Fife) missed this one and the Tories couldn’t get any support for their amendment beyond their own party – while the LibDem amendment fell by 86 to 31, with only the Tories and LibDems in favour. The amended motion passed by 74 to 43:

That the Parliament calls on all parties in the Parliament to work together to deliver a balanced budget that will safeguard services and strengthen economic growth for Scotland.

A further Green motion on opportunities for young people achieved consensus, with SNP and Labour amendments, as well as the motion itself, being passed nem con:

That the Parliament commends the work of Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus in founding, in 1976, the Grameen Bank, which provides microfinance for people living in poverty in Bangladesh; recognises that, since its beginnings in Bangladesh, there are now Grameen-type programmes tackling poverty across 38 countries around the world and that Grameen America is now branching out to many new locations in New York, Nebraska, Washington DC and California; believes that there is an opportunity to tackle the growing problem of unemployment among 16 to 19-year-olds with the establishment of a microcredit scheme for young people in Scotland; notes that this scheme could offer loans for small business ventures to young people who are not in education, employment or training and be supported by an entrepreneurial mentoring scheme; further believes that such a scheme would build on the contribution made by Scotland’s social enterprise sector and draw on Scotland’s long history of entrepreneurial achievement, and calls on the Scottish Government to explore ways to establish a Scottish youth microcredit scheme building on the excellent work by the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust in providing microfinance for business start-ups to 18 to 25-year-olds, the work of Glasgow Caledonian University in establishing a partnership with the Grameen Bank to develop the Grameen Caledonian Creative Lab and a Grameen Bank in Scotland and other organisations making a proactive effort and their own contributions in common cause by discussing this idea with the Scottish League of Credit Unions and the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust.

MSPs then passed the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill (it faced no Stage 3 amendments).

After this, a number of Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee motions were waved through, relating to standing order changes.

So that was that: but this week, the biggie: Stage 1 of the Budget.

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