Meeting date: Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 06 October 2021 [Draft]
Agenda: Portfolio Question Time, Supreme Court Judgment, Scotland in the World, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Rest and Be Thankful
- Portfolio Question Time
- Supreme Court Judgment
- Scotland in the World
- Business Motions
- Parliamentary Bureau Motions
- Decision Time
- Rest and Be Thankful
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
The next item of business is consideration of Parliamentary Bureau motion S6M-01561, on approval of a Scottish statutory instrument. I ask George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, to move the motion.
That the Parliament agrees that the Shetland Islands (Electoral Arrangements) Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.—[George Adam]
I call Beatrice Wishart.17:06
I wish to speak in connection with the boundary changes affecting Shetland and, in particular, the change to the Shetland West ward.
The final report that Boundaries Scotland submitted to the Scottish ministers states that its proposals
“take into account Shetland Islands Council’s Localities and the local ties and communities that they represent”
“use the flexibility introduced by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 which allowed us to design a 2-member Shetland West ward to reflect local ties and recognised boundaries in the area”.
However, the community councils in Shetland West were opposed and objected to the proposal.
The ward is currently served by three councillors. The community councils do not consider that their views have been taken into account in the final report, which has overlooked geographical considerations and has instead put the focus on parity of population. Community council members are strongly of the opinion that wards with three or four members are better able to put forward the views of those whom they represent and that a two-member ward will not be able to represent them fully on all the statutory committees and other non-statutory committees.
I raised the matter with the Government and, in July, I had a reply from the Deputy First Minister, who indicated that, once it was known which committee would have responsibility for considering the relevant statutory instruments, he would ensure that the convener of that committee would be made aware of the concerns.
I cannot vote for the SSI, which has not taken into account the genuine concerns of the community regarding the changes to the Shetland West ward.17:08
It is vital for local democracy and for local service delivery that councils are as representative as possible of the communities that they serve. Regular reviews of council wards and councillor numbers are necessary to reflect changes in population. The Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee acknowledged that Boundaries Scotland has discharged its duties professionally and competently. Shetland Islands Council stated that it was
“happy with the outcome of the commission and its recommendations”
“We feel that the process of communication and engagement has led to the satisfactory result that we have achieved.”—[Official Report, Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee, 14 September 2021; c 3.]
On that basis, the committee recommended approval of the recommendations for that council and for the three other councils that were covered by the review.
The question on the motion will be put at decision time.
The next item of business is consideration of nine Parliamentary Bureau motions. I ask George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, to move motions S6M-01559, S6M-01560 and S6M-01562 to S6M-01566, on approval of SSIs; S6M-01567, on substitution on committees; and S6M-01568, on designation of a lead committee.
That the Parliament agrees that the Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Electoral Arrangements) Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.
That the Parliament agrees that the Orkney Islands (Electoral Arrangements) Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.
That the Parliament agrees that the North Ayrshire (Electoral Arrangements) Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.
That the Parliament agrees that the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.
That the Parliament agrees that the National Bus Travel Concession Scheme for Young Persons (Scotland) Amendment Order 2021 [draft] be approved.
That the Parliament agrees that the Children’s Legal Assistance (Miscellaneous Amendments and Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.
That the Parliament agrees that the Social Security (Advocacy Service Standards) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 [draft] be approved.
That the Parliament agrees that—
Liam McArthur be appointed as the Scottish Liberal Democrat substitute on the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee
Alex Cole-Hamilton be appointed as the Scottish Liberal Democrat substitute on the Education, Children and Young People Committee.
That the Parliament agrees that the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee be designated as the lead committee in consideration of the legislative consent memorandum on the Elections Bill.—[George Adam]
The question on the motions will be put at decision time.