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Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Thursday, January 28, 2021


Point of Order

Neil Findlay (Lothian) (Lab)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I can fully understand why you suspended Parliament just now, but it sets a precedent. Everyone knows that debates, question times and all the rest follow on. We will be discussing a very important piece of legislation that will, I think, be agreed consensually by the Parliament, and I would never seek to halt that. However, I have to question whether the same tolerance would be applied if, for example, an Opposition member or whoever did not turn up for a question, their member’s bill, a motion or a members’ business debate. My question is whether a consistent approach will be taken by whoever is in the chair—I am not having a go at you personally, Presiding Officer; I understand why it was done—should members be elsewhere for whatever reason.

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani)

Thank you for your point of order, Mr Findlay. The reason why I felt that I had to suspend the meeting was that business could not carry on as it should have, because there was no one here who could move the motion that we will be debating. However, it was not acceptable and it should not have happened. Business should indeed have followed on from the cabinet secretary’s statement on the budget.

Neil Findlay

To follow up on my point of order, and just so that I am clear in my own mind, in normal circumstances would the business have fallen and the meeting have moved on to the next item of business? I do not know—I am asking for information.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

A decision can be taken by the Presiding Officer, Mr Findlay. The motion was lodged by Humza Yousaf and supported by Ash Denham, neither of whom were present—either in the chamber or on the BlueJeans platform—and therefore the motion could not be moved. I took a decision not to abandon the business, as you say, but to suspend the meeting so that we could carry on with that very important business.