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Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament

Meeting date: Thursday, December 15, 2022


Points of Order

Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. In the past, you have been clear that it is a matter of courtesy to the chamber that major Government announcements are made first to this chamber and not to the media.

At 2.25 this afternoon, we expect a budget statement from the Deputy First Minister to this chamber. However, currently, the BBC Scotland website is reporting in detail tax changes that will be brought forward in that budget statement, including increasing the higher rate of tax from 41p to 42p, increasing the additional rate from 46p to 47p and reducing the tax threshold for the top rate from £150,000 to £125,000.

I am sure that you share my concern and dismay that that has apparently been communicated to the media first rather than to the chamber. Will you therefore institute an immediate investigation into the source of that leak to the BBC and ensure that proper courtesy is shown to the members of this chamber by the Government?

The Presiding Officer (Alison Johnstone)

I thank Mr Fraser for his point of order. He is quite right: I have made it clear on many occasions that it is my expectation that significant announcements are made to the Parliament in the first instance.

I have not yet had an opportunity to examine the circumstances that Mr Fraser describes. I will do so and report to the chamber in due course.

On a point of order, Presiding Officer.

I am sorry, Mr Kerr, but Mr Bibby, who is online, raised a point of order before you, so I will take him first.

Neil Bibby (West Scotland) (Lab)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer—it is a similar one to the point that Mr Fraser raised.

During First Minister’s question time, the BBC’s website has reported the Scottish Government’s plans on income tax. If the information is accurate, it should have been provided to Parliament. Therefore, I also ask that you use your time before the proposed statement to make contact with the Scottish Government to assess the accuracy of those reports and whether the information has been briefed by the Scottish Government, and to consider the implications for the statement this afternoon.

I thank Neil Bibby. As I previously said, I will look into the circumstances and report back to the Parliament.

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. On the same issue—

Members: Oh!

Stephen Kerr

Members may say, “Oh!”, but this is a matter of fundamental respect to the Scottish Parliament. If the very specific details that the BBC reported at 12.39 pm about the contents of the budget are indeed accurate, as colleagues have said, will the Presiding Officer insist, among other things, that the temporary Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy—the Deputy First Minister—apologises to the Parliament?

The Presiding Officer

I thank Stephen Kerr for his point of order. As you will appreciate, I have been otherwise engaged and have not yet apprised myself of the detail, but I will certainly look into the matter.

There will be a brief pause before we move on to members’ business.