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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Thursday, October 28, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 28 October 2021

Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Point of Order, Offshore Training Passport, Portfolio Question Time, National Health Service Endowment Funds, Covid Recovery Strategy, Points of Order, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time


Points of Order

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. On 5 October we had a members’ business debate on the big noise programme in Wester Hailes. Unfortunately, the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, who was meant to be responding to the debate, did not turn up until the last speaker was speaking. He was then encouraged by the Deputy Presiding Officer to watch the debate back and to write to all members who took part regarding the issues raised in their speeches. I have received nothing.

Standing order 7.3.1 states:

“Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a courteous and respectful manner and shall respect the authority of the Presiding Officer.”

I ask first whether, through ignoring the advice of the Deputy Presiding Officer to write to members, Mr Robertson has breached that standing order. Secondly, what is your ruling on the disrespect shown by the cabinet secretary to members who wished to debate the issues properly but could not do so, due to the lack of his attendance?

I thank the member for his point of order. Regarding the fact that the cabinet secretary has not written to Mr Lumsden, I am sure that he will now be made aware that the member has not yet received a response, and I would hope that a response will now follow. I would certainly have hoped that all members who were taking part in that debate would have received such a response.

On the second point, the Presiding Officer who was in the chair at the time dealt with the issue and received an apology from the cabinet secretary. The cabinet secretary made an apology in person at that time to all members who were in the chamber. He has subsequently also written to me and apologised for his error, which is certainly one that I would not want to see repeated. The member is absolutely right: at all times, all members of the Parliament must treat one another with the greatest courtesy and respect.

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I wish to raise a point of order about the First Minister’s response to my question about NHS Inform’s national vaccination booking system. I apologise to you for the short notice of this point of order.

The First Minister told the Parliament that the system was fixed. My constituent’s family were delighted and they phoned NHS Inform this afternoon, but the system is still broken. The operator told them not to call back until Sunday, but they did not know whether it would be fixed even by then. The First Minister may want to correct the record to avoid giving misleading information to the Parliament, but can I ask this: can somebody in the Government tell us when the system will actually be fixed?

I thank Ms Baillie for her point of order. She will know, however, that the content of members’ contributions is not a matter for the chair, although a mechanism exists by which members can correct any inaccurate information that has been shared in the chamber.

I thought that I heard another point of order, but I did not.