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Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament

Meeting date: Thursday, June 16, 2022

Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Men’s Sheds, Point of Order, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Question Time, Portfolio Question Time, Role of Incineration in Waste Hierarchy, Miners’ Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Miners’ Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill, Point of Order, Decision Time


Point of Order

Oliver Mundell (Dumfriesshire) (Con)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I apologise to those in the public gallery for making them wait a little bit longer. Under rule 8.17.1 of standing orders, I seek clarification of whether a minister who is answering a question in the chamber is expected to give a full answer and to take the opportunity that is given to share with Parliament a significant change in Government policy that has already been communicated to stakeholders.

Today, during general question time, Lorna Slater stated that, during recent discussions, she had

“indicated that it is important for Government to work with stakeholders to explore options for more sustainable forms of bracken control in the future.”

However, I have been contacted by a number of individuals who suggest that the minister went considerably further and indicated a change in Government policy to stakeholders, telling them that she was

“not minded to support the continued use”

of Asulox in the future.

Bracken control may seem unimportant to some members of this Parliament—and, indeed, to some ministers—but it has far-reaching consequences for livestock, the environment and the rural economy. As a minimum, Parliament should be kept informed.

For that reason, Presiding Officer, in addition to my query about the properness of withholding key information in response to a comment or question, I seek your view on whether a minister, having come to such a view and having expressed it to stakeholders, should proactively share such a decision with Parliament in a timely manner via one of the many mechanisms that are available, thereby allowing the decision to be subjected to scrutiny.

Although it is perhaps not on the scale of other actions this week, this issue, in my view, speaks to the general culture of discourtesy to this Parliament and its members that exists within the current Scottish Government.

The Presiding Officer (Alison Johnstone)

Thank you, Mr Mundell. As, I am sure, all members are aware by now, it is not for the Presiding Officer to rule on the content of responses that are provided by ministers in the chamber. There are many mechanisms for the Government to provide information to the Parliament, and there is an expectation that Parliament will be made aware before important matters are announced elsewhere.

The member will also be aware that, if he is dissatisfied with an answer to a question, there are a variety of methods open to him to clarify the information that he is looking for.