Meeting date: Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 02 September 2020
Agenda: Point of Order, First Minister’s Question Time, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, Programme for Government 2020-21, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Point of Order, Business Motion, Decision Time, Correction
- Point of Order
- First Minister’s Question Time
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill
- Programme for Government 2020-21
- Parliamentary Bureau Motion
- Point of Order
- Business Motion
- Decision Time
Point of Order
There is a point of order from Mike Rumbles.
Presiding Officer, I seek your guidance on our procedures.
As you know, the First Minister announced at midnight last night that she was imposing restrictions on people who reside in the local government areas of East Renfrewshire, Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire. She said that
“You should not host people from other households in your home and you should not visit someone else’s home, no matter where it is.”
As far as I understand it, no regulations have been lodged with the Scottish Parliament about imposing those restrictions on the population. Again, as I understand it, those restrictions are not restrictions at all, but purely advice to people in those local authority areas. However, there is a great deal of confusion, because the media are reporting that those restrictions have indeed been imposed.
I seek your guidance on the procedures as to whether the Government has now laid before the Parliament the regulations to impose those restrictions, because I want to know that the proper procedures have been followed according to—[Interruption].
Would members stop barracking, please?
Could we have some order, please? Let us hear the point of order.
I want to know that the proper procedures have been followed according to the legislation that was passed unanimously by the Parliament in March, which gave the Scottish Government unprecedented powers. I want to be sure, as an individual member of the Scottish Parliament, that those powers are being exercised in accordance with our procedures. I am embarrassed to say that I genuinely do not know the answer, because of the confusion that has been caused.
Are the powers being imposed on the population through regulation—if that is the case, that is quite proper and correct—or are the powers not being imposed on the population? People should be told that, Presiding Officer.
First Minister, I will respond to the point of order, if you do not mind. I am sure that you will shortly address the point. You may speak now if you wish.
When I announced the revised guidance for the people in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire last night, I specifically said that at this stage it is in the form of guidance but, as we have done in other situations, we will translate that into regulation if we consider it necessary. If we decide to do that, then the proper procedures of the Parliament will be followed.
Right now, we are seeking to make sure that the public are under no doubt about what we are asking and advising people to do, and I will come to that later on. I would have thought that all members of the Parliament, if we are interested in suppressing the infectious virus, have a duty not to sow confusion but to give clear advice to people across the country.
Thank you, First Minister.
I thank Mr Rumbles for giving me advance notice of his point of order. This is the first available opportunity to raise the issue. I am aware of Mr Rumbles’s on-going interest in the matter.
First, I observe that the term “restrictions” is used to cover guidance, statutory guidance and regulations and that all of those are matters for the Government. I advise Mr Rumbles to put any questions on the matter to the Government directly.
From a parliamentary perspective, I observe that if such restrictions were a matter of regulations, those would have to be laid before the Parliament and the Parliament would have an opportunity to pass its view on them.
I thank Mr Rumbles for his point of order and the First Minister for her clarification. I observe that it is also important from a parliamentary perspective for important announcements to be made to the Parliament. In this case, the Government informed me directly before 5 o’clock yesterday, notifying me that it would be very difficult to do make the announcement to the Parliament because of the timing. The Government offered members from the affected region a chance to discuss the restrictions last night at 5 o’clock, which I think was very helpful.