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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 30 January 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill, Business Motion, Motion without Notice, Decision Time, St Andrew’s First Aid


Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

The next item is stage 3 proceedings on the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill. In dealing with the amendments, members should have the bill as amended at stage 2, which is Scottish Parliament bill 16A, the marshalled list and the groupings. The division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for five minutes for the first division of the afternoon. The period of voting for the first division will be 30 seconds. Members who wish to speak in the debate on the group of amendments should press their request-to-speak buttons as soon as possible after I call the group.

Amendment 1, in the name of the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, is grouped with amendments 2 to 5.

I am pleased to have reached stage 3 of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill with only a small number of technical amendments to be considered. The bill sets a gender representation objective for public boards that 50 per cent of their non-executive members are women—an objective that, I am pleased to say, has met with almost unanimous cross-party support. That support speaks to what is at the heart of the bill, which is equality for women.

The amendments that I am speaking to this afternoon are all technical amendments to schedule 1 and are intended to ensure consistency and to add one public authority.

Amendments 1, 3 and 5 amend the entries in schedule 1 for health boards, the National Library of Scotland and special health boards, to ensure that the excluded positions for those boards are consistent with those for the boards of other public authorities. There is a great deal of variation in the composition of the boards of our public authorities and in the arrangements for determining their membership. In some instances, a board will require that people holding certain positions in another organisation or forum are members, or it may include members who are directly elected or nominated to the board. Those positions are excluded from the bill in order to avoid interference in elections or other selection processes.

Amendment 2 adds the Independent Living Fund Scotland to the list of public authorities that are covered by the bill.

Amendment 4 is a minor technical amendment that adds a Scottish statutory instrument number to the entry for the Scottish Social Services Council—again, for consistency.

I ask members to support amendments 1 to 5, and I move amendment 1.

I am happy to support all the amendments in the group. As has been previously stated, amendments 1, 3 and 5, along with amendments 2 and 4, are minor amendments that will improve the clarity of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill. By explicitly excluding individuals and including organisations, they add further clarity to the legislation.

Amendment 1 amends the provision for health boards to exclude specific members, and amendment 3 amends the provision to exclude specific members from the National Library of Scotland. Amendment 5 would also amend the bill to make an exclusion. Amendment 2 adds the newly established Independent Living Fund Scotland to the list, and amendment 4, as the cabinet secretary has said, is a small technical amendment relating to the entry for the Scottish Social Services Council.

During the Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s evidence sessions, there was a call from many witnesses for the bill to be as clear as possible, to ensure that it was well enforced. These minor amendments strengthen the bill and improve its clarity by providing greater detail in the wording, so I am happy to support them.

My only brief comment is that Conservative members will support the amendments, as they are largely technical in nature.

Does the minister wish to make any comments in winding up?


Amendment 1 agreed to.

Amendments 2 to 5 moved—[Angela Constance]—and agreed to.

That ends the consideration of amendments.

As members will be aware, at this point in the proceedings I am required, under the standing orders, to decide whether any provision in the bill relates to a protected subject matter—that is, whether it modifies the electoral system or franchise for Scottish parliamentary elections. If it does, the motion to pass the bill will require support from a supermajority of members. In my view, no provision of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill relates to a protected subject matter, and therefore the bill does not require a supermajority at stage 3.