The Sunday Whip
An odd week, with a minor tribal ding-dong, but otherwise, consensus was broadly the order of things. Clearly, with just a few more weeks until dissolution, things are winding down. Strange, really, I thought it’d be wound up, but at this stage, powder is being kept dry.
So on that basis, is was little surprise that there were 16 absentees on Wednesday: the disgraced Bill Aitken (Con, Glasgow, standing down), Wendy Alexander (Lab, Paisley North, standing down), Aileen Campbell (SNP, South of Scotland), Parliamentary Business Minister Bruce Crawford (Stirling), Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston, standing down), Cathy Jamieson (Lab, Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley, standing down), Deputy Leader of the Opposition Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok), Tory Justice Spokesman John Lamont (Roxburgh & Berwickshire), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians), Michael Matheson (SNP, Falkirk West), Tom McCabe (Lab, Hamilton South), Irene Oldfather (Lab, Cunninghame South), Mike Pringle (LD, Edinburgh South), Public Health Minister Shona Robison (Dundee East), Nicol Stephen (LD, Aberdeen South, standing down) and Jamie Stone (LD, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross, standing down).
They missed unanimous support for the Public Petitions Committee’s motion:
That the Parliament notes the continued evolution of its public petitions process; applauds the work of petitioners who have engaged with their parliament through this process by highlighting issues of concern and importance that led to examination by the Public Petitions Committee and key policy makers; believes the process to be a positive demonstration of the Parliament’s founding principles, and supports the work of the committee and petitioners in bringing further improvements to the policies that affect the day-to-day lives of the people of Scotland.
Also on Wednesday was acknowledgement of the Equal Opportunities report on migration and trafficking. The actual vote came on an LCM for the UK Parliament’s Energy Bill. This passed by 70 (SNP/Con/LD) to 42 (Lab/Green):
That the Parliament agrees that the relevant provisions of the Energy Bill introduced in the House of Lords on 8 December 2010 relating to the creation of powers to develop a new Green Deal for energy efficiency measures, the repeal of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995, enabling the Coal Authority to charge for services and to implement additional measures to make improvements to regulatory frameworks for the energy markets, so far as these matters fall within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, or alter the executive competence of the Scottish Ministers, should be considered by the UK Parliament.
Finally, the Bureau motions were approved, including three SSIs: the Public Appointments and Public Bodies etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 (Amendment of Specified Authorities) (No.2) Order 2011, the Retention of Samples etc. (Children’s Hearings) (Scotland) Order 2011 and the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 Amendment Order 2011.
Thursday saw a broad consensus as well: Stage 3 of the Patient Rights (Scotland) Bill saw all bar one of its amendments passed unanimously, and the one that did go to a vote – Labour’s Amendment 8 – passed by 100 votes to 15 when everyone but the LibDems supported it. The Bill passed unanimously at Decision Time, along with a motion filling the vacancy caused by Bill Aitken’s departure in disgrace from the Justice Committee with John Lamont, and another one confirming the Tory substitute on that Committee as David McLetchie.
Indeed, the only thing that did get the juices flowing was a Labour motion on regeneration, for which there were seven absentees: Cathy Craigie (Lab, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth), Margaret Curran, Labour Group Leader Iain Gray (East Lothian), Cathy Jamieson, Shadow Schools Minister Ken Macintosh (Eastwood), Shadow Culture Secretary Pauline McNeill (Glasgow Kelvin) and Nicol Stephen. This faced a Government amendment which was missed by a further three MSPs: Alasdair Allan (SNP, Western Isles), Transport Minister Keith Brown (Ochil) and Margo MacDonald. The amendment passed by 61 (SNP/Con) votes to 57 (Lab/LD/Green), so once again, a full house with that party configuration would have seen that amendment fall. Bad Labour whipping saw it pass. The amended motion passed by 81 to 40, with only Labour voting against it:
That the Parliament recognises the importance of continued support from the Scottish Government for regeneration initiatives, particularly in the current economic climate; believes that it is essential for effective regeneration activity to be co-ordinated across the Scottish Government and local government and in communities; welcomes the many regeneration initiatives supporting local communities and sustained by local involvement across Scotland; recognises in particular the work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust in Scotland as an organisation that has played a central role in supporting vital projects that have improved the quality of life for thousands of people living in former mining communities, has helped over 20,000 young people, supported over 2,000 people back into work and supported over 3,000 community initiatives and highlights the fact that every £1 spent by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust generates £1.37 of matched funding to support these important projects, and calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that funding for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust is focused on job-creation activities that can contribute to the economic revival of these communities.
So that was that. Next week, we have an orgy of Stage 3 legislation, including Wednesday’s Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill, which, judging by the fact that Time For Reflection and Members’ Business have been moved to 1:15 and Decision Time pencilled in for 8:00, looks set to be something of an epic.