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The Sunday Whip

13/03/2011

Well, the session is now starting to fade away and Parliament’s last sitting day is a week on Tuesday, so as the washup continues unabated, it’s little wonder that consensus broke out on Wednesday.

Indeed, everything passed without dissent: the Reservoirs (Scotland) Bill and its Stage 3 amendments; the Finance Committee’s report on preventative spending; two Standards, Privileges and Public Appointments Committee reports on Financial Resolutions and scrutiny of revised Financial Memoranda and Scrutiny of SPCB-supported bodies; a SPPA motion tidying up references in the standing orders; and LCM on the Health and Social Care Bill; an agreement for Parliament to consider the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Amendment Order 2011 and a wave of SSIs:

Antisocial Behaviour Notices (Houses Used for Holiday Purposes) (Scotland) Order 2011
Budget (Scotland) Act 2010 Amendment Order 2011
Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2011
Energy Act 2008 (Storage of Carbon Dioxide) (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 2011
Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2011
Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Order 2011
Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Inshore Region) Order 2011
Marine Licensing Appeals (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Public Services Reform (General Teaching Council for Scotland) Order 2011
Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2011
Radioactive Substances Act 1993 Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Amendment Order 2011
Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (Requirements for Care Services) Regulations 2011
Scottish Statutory Instruments Regulations 2011
Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

On to Thursday, where regular service was resumed There were only three absentees: Aileen Campbell (SNP, South of Scotland), Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston) and Jack McConnell (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw), which means that there must have been a constitutional debate in the offing.

But first came the LibDem amendment on local services. An SNP amendment passed by 62 (SNP/Con) votes to 18 (LD/Green) with 45 (Lab/Margo) abstentions, which caused the Labour amendment to fall. The amended motion then passed by 106 to 18 with one abstention. Once again, I do have to query Labour’s tactics here: rather than abstaining, which gave the SNP amendment a de facto majority with or without Tory support (so killing their own amendment), voting against the amendment would have seen it struck down (62-62-1, and the PO would have had to use his casting vote against it), enabling the Labour amendment to be put to a vote instead – challenging the SNP to support Labour’s policy. Or, don’t bother to table the Labour amendment and support the SNP amendment anyway, as they supported the amended motion, with a view to showing some sort of willingness to build consensus and show a bit of statesmanship. The approach that was actually taken struck me as a little ham-fisted. But I digress. The motion passed was:

That the Parliament notes that Scotland and policing have changed significantly since the existing structure of policing was introduced over 35 years ago; notes the Scottish Government’s consultation papers on police and fire services reform and agrees that, given the significant financial challenges, such reform is necessary to protect and improve local services and to strengthen and improve local accountability and engagement; agrees that reform can only happen if it gives local communities and local elected members a greater say on local priorities and services, and notes that the expectations and requirements of health and social care have similarly changed significantly since existing structures were introduced and that reform is needed to deliver integrated services that are sustainable and appropriate and that make best use of resources focussed on the needs of local populations.

Anyway. Next came the Labour motion on the Scotland Bill. An SNP amendment fell by 78 (Lab-Con-LD-Green) to 46 with Margo abstaining, and an amendment by Margaret Mitchell (Con, Central Scotland) fell by 77 to 47 with one abstention, when she secured support from the SNP but not her own party. The motion then passed by 121 votes to three with one abstention – the three opponents being the Greens and Helen Eadie (Lab, Dunfermline East):

That the Parliament agrees that, further to motion S3M-7550 passed on 9 December 2010 supporting the general principles of the Scotland Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 30 November 2010, the Bill be considered by the UK Parliament; invites the UK Government and the UK Parliament to consider the amendments and proposals made in the report of the Scotland Bill Committee, and looks forward to considering any amendments made to the Bill with a view to debating them in a further legislative consent motion before the Bill is passed for Royal Assent.

So that was that. Only two more Whips to go!

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