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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Thursday, March 11, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 11 March 2021

Agenda: Business Motion, First Minister’s Question Time, Point of Order, Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, Portfolio Question Time, Business Motion, Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Motion Without Notice, Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill, Scottish Biometrics Commissioner (Appointment), Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time


Point of Order

Elaine Smith (Central Scotland) (Lab)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I do not make this point of order lightly. I want to ask about parliamentary procedure under our standing orders.

While I have been in the chamber today, I have seen a Tweet. It says:

“It’s as if all Ms Smith wanted to do was make an angry comment and get a dig at the cabinet secretary. Some of the language being used by certain contributors was at best shocking and at worst a hate crime. I guess they like the privilege that Parliament provides.”

That obviously, as everyone will know, relates to stage 3 of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, yesterday. It is a tweet by a man who is a member of a cross-party group in the Parliament, of which I am a co-convener. He is also a deputy chair of a charity.

The hate crime bill that Parliament is considering seems, in its present form, to be unleashing chilling misogyny and hate against women. It is even worse that those comments are being made on a day when we have again been starkly reminded of the violence that is faced by women because of our sex.

Perhaps the Presiding Officer can tell me whether what I suggest is allowed and can be done under the standing orders. I hope that it is not too late to withdraw the bill, to undertake a full and robust consultation and to include women in the legislation. Is that something that the Government could now do under our standing orders?

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

It is possible, under standing orders, to withdraw a bill at any stage. However, the member has made a political argument rather than a procedural point. We are about to move into the debate on the bill. There will be opportunities for members from all sides to discuss the matter, including a discussion of the general context about which the member made her remarks.

There will be a short pause before we move to the next item of business, as I am conscious that some members need to leave the chamber. I urge all members to clean and wipe down their seats if they are changing desks. I hope that members will stay at the same desks, but members who change should thoroughly wipe down their desks so that others can use them. Members should also wear their masks and observe social distancing, and should follow the one-way system around the building.