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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 11 January 2022 [Draft]

Agenda: Interests, Decision on Taking Business in Private, Made Affirmative Procedure Inquiry, Instruments subject to Made Affirmative Procedure, Instruments not subject to Parliamentary Procedure, Instrument subject to Affirmative Procedure, Instruments subject to Negative Procedure, Instruments not subject to Parliamentary Procedure


Contents


Instruments subject to Made Affirmative Procedure

I thank members for their patience during the suspension of the meeting. We move to agenda item 4, under which we are considering five instruments.


Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No 8) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/498)

No technical points have been raised on SSIs 2021/475, 2021/478, 2021/496, 2021/497 and 2021/498. I invite comments from members on the instruments.

I can comment on them all. SSI 2021/478 is not contentious, so I will not say a great deal about it. It relates to a technical issue in the chamber. MSPs were unable to vote on a previous set of regulations, which therefore expired. The regulations have now been relaid—that is now out of the way.

However, I take a different view on the other regulations, which came in over the festive period and which relate to leisure, sporting events, theatres, pubs and night clubs. Members of the public and the people who are involved in those sectors know very well what happened. Sporting events were closed down; the football calendar—certainly, the Scottish Premier League—was put on pause—[Inaudible.]

We have just been discussing the made affirmative procedure. My view is that the use of that procedure for those regulations was not appropriate. They would have benefited from some scrutiny but they had none. Parliament could have made time for the use of the affirmative procedure. We have acted—[Inaudible.]—at times previously. The affirmative procedure is the better procedure to use in such instances. On that basis, I will be moving against SSIs 2021/475, 2021/496, 2021/497 and 2021/498.

12:00  

I have read the clerks’ documentation on the regulations and reflected on the real-life implications of some of the measures that were brought in over the festive period. Among the constituents who came to me over that period were representatives of the Ambassador Theatre Group, which had short-notice cancellations of its productions over Christmas, such as the pantomime at the King’s theatre. The upshot has been that, because of the insufficient specification of support to that sector, in January, employees have been left for up to five weeks without pay, which is a pretty horrendous situation. It is an example of how the made affirmative procedure has perhaps been inappropriately used. There has not been true scrutiny to ensure that the regulations were watertight and that the potential negative effects on the public were avoided. I am therefore minded to express dissatisfaction with the use of the made affirmative procedure.

I acknowledge some of what Paul Sweeney has described. However, we need to be cognisant of the evidence that we have just received from the Deputy First Minister with regard to omicron, and the research that was presented, which showed a huge increase in cases of the virus. As the Deputy First Minister said, the situation changed before our eyes in dramatic order. We need to be aware of that. From my perspective, the made affirmative procedure was the correct one to use.

I do not know whether Craig Hoy wants to say something. I know that it is cold in the building, but you appear to be frozen, Craig.

[Inaudible.] I do not want to rehearse the discussion that we have just had with the Deputy First Minister, but I agree with Graham Simpson and Paul Sweeney that the instruments, and the regulations that they bring into effect, would have benefited from scrutiny so that some of the negative unintended consequences would not have occurred.

The justification for bringing in the regulations through the made affirmative route is that, in some cases, the regulations had to be implemented the very next day. However, again, we did not have the justification from the Government for why it had to be the next day and not the next week or 10 days later. On that basis, and given that Parliament was sitting when the regulations were first laid, I support the suggestion from Graham Simpson, and perhaps Paul Sweeney, that the affirmative route would have been the better one to use in the circumstances.

Are members agreed that SSI 2021/478 is more technical and that we do not need to vote on it, but that we should vote on whether we are content with the four other instruments—SSIs 2021/475, 2021/496, 2021/497 and 2021/498? I think that we are agreed on that.

As the points are all similar, I suggest that we consider and vote on the four SSIs together. That will show the feeling of the committee in general. Are members content with that approach? Okay.

We will now vote on SSIs 2021/475, 2021/496, 2021/497 and 2021/498. Because of the nature of this meeting, I will call each member in alphabetical order. Members can simply say whether they agree, do not agree or wish to abstain.

For

Kidd, Bill (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP)
Minto, Jenni (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)

Against

Hoy, Craig (South Scotland) (Con)
Simpson, Graham (Central Scotland) (Con)
Sweeney, Paul (Glasgow) (Lab)

The clerks will put the result on the BlueJeans chat function, because that is the correct procedure, and I will then read it out.

Meanwhile, I can say that no points have been raised on SSIs 2021/465 and 2021/477. Is the committee content with those instruments? Members are content. That is fine, thank you.

The result of the division on SSIs 2021/475, 2021/496, 2021/497 and 2021/498 is: For 2, Against 3, Abstentions 0.

Therefore, we are not agreed.

I thank members for that, and I thank the clerking team for putting up with my procedure.