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The Sunday Whip

20/03/2011

We’re almost at the end, people: only a few more days to dissolution.

And that’s certainly evident in attitudes at Holyrood: the eye is now well and truly off the ball, to the extent that four Bills and their amendments were passed on Wednesday without dissent: the Local Electoral Administration (Scotland) Bill, the Certification of Death (Scotland) Bill, the Public Records (Scotland) Bill and Rhoda Grant’s Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill.

Indeed, the only vote on Wednesday came for the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Amendment Order 2011, which passed by 102 (SNP/Lab/Con) votes to 0 with 15 LibDem and Green abstentions. There were eleven absentees: Aileen Campbell (SNP, South of Scotland, standing in Clydesdale), Margaret Curran (Lab, Glasgow Baillieston, not seeking re-election), Helen Eadie (Lab, Dunfermline East, seeking re-election in the renamed Cowdenbeath seat), Leader of the Opposition Iain Gray (East Lothian, obviously seeking re-election), Jim Hume (LD, South of Scotland, seeking re-election on the List), Cathy Jamieson (Lab, Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley, not seeking re-election), Labour Group Deputy Leader Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok, seeking re-election), Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians, and I assume seeking re-election), Mike Pringle (LD, Edinburgh South, standing in the re-named Edinburgh Southern), Public Health Minister Shona Robison (Dundee East, seeking re-election to Dundee City East), and LibDem Leader Tavish Scott (Shetland, obviously seeking re-election).

So once that vote was over with, the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Order 2011 passed without dissent, as did the SPCB motion on expenses:

That the Parliament, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 81(2) and 83(5) of the Scotland Act 1998 determines that for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2013 paragraph 1.2.4 of the Reimbursement of Members’ Expenses Scheme agreed to by resolution of the Parliament on 12 June 2008 (“the Resolution”), (as amended by resolution of the Parliament on 24 March 2010) and annexed as Annex 1 to the Resolution shall not have effect.

Then came the SSIs:

Equality Act 2010 (Specification of Public Authorities) (Scotland) Order 2011

Advice and Assistance (Assistance by Way of Representation) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2011

Advice and Assistance and Civil Legal Aid (Financial Conditions and Contributions) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

Cross-Border Mediation (Scotland) Regulations 2011

Debt Arrangement Scheme (Interest, Fees, Penalties and Other Charges) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

Fundable Bodies (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) Order 2011

Fundable Bodies (University of the Highlands and Islands) Order 2011

Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 (Modification and Consequential Provisions) Order 2011

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 Amendment (Scotland) Order 2011

Public Services Reform (Agricultural Holdings) (Scotland) Order 2011

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (Removal from Register and Dissolution) Regulations 2011

Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Remedial) (Scotland) Order 2011

Then came Thursday, and a small, albeit shambolic, resumption of regular service. The firsts vote were amendments to the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill, with a Labour amendment (Amendment 1) passing by 119 to 0 with no abstentions (and I’m scratching my head as to how this went to a vote), while a Tory one passed by 92 votes to two, with only the Greens opposing. Even Margo was in favour! Later on, the Bill passed unanimously.

At Decision Time, however, the only voting that took place was on a Labour motion on transport, and there were eight absentees: Helen Eadie, Hugh Henry (Lab, Paisley South, standing in the re-drawn Renfrewshire South seat), Cathy Jamieson, Margo MacDonald, Shadow Culture Secretary Pauline McNeill (Glasgow Kelvin, seeking re-election), Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Press Releases John Park (Mid Scotland & Fife, seeking re-election), Tavish Scott and Jamie Stone (LD, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross, standing down).

They missed the SNP amendment fall by 73 votes to 47 when everyone else voted against it. The Tory amendment then fell by 104 votes to 16 when everyone else voted against that, and the LibDem amendment fell by 106 votes to 14 when everyone else voted against that as well. Then the motion fell by 80 votes to 40: on the one hand, Labour did get support from the Greens; on the other, three Labour MSPs voted against it: Bill Butler (Glasgow Anniesland, seeking re-election), Shadow Schools Minister Ken Macintosh (Eastwood, seeking re-election in a notionally Tory seat) and, bizarrely, Shadow Transport Minister Charlie Gordon (Glasgow Cathcart, seeking re-election and a decent pair of glasses if this is anything to go by) who managed to vote against his own motion. These people want their hands on the levers of power, yet can’t even operate their voting console.

But I digress, after that shambles, and the passage of the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill, two LCMs were passed unanimously, concerning the Education Bill and the Public Bodies Bill.

So that, as they say, was that. It all comes to an end on Tuesday, as the curtain falls on this Scottish Parliament. We finish with Stage 3 of the Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Bill and the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Bill, one last General Question Time, a final FMQs, and then a motion of thanks to Alex Fergusson. It’s almost a wrap…

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