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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 21 April 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Covid-19 (Health), Covid-19 (Justice), Covid-19 (Economy), Topical Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time


Business Motion

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S5M-21505, in the name of Graeme Dey, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, which sets out a business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees the following programme of business—

Tuesday 28 April 2020

2.00 pm Time for Reflection

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Ministerial Statement: Reporting on Emergency Legislation

followed by Ministerial Statement: Health (Covid-19)

followed by Ministerial Statement: Transport (Covid-19)

followed by Topical Questions (if selected)

4.15 pm First Minister’s Questions

followed by Committee Announcements

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

Tuesday 5 May 2020

2.00 pm Time for Reflection

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Stage 1 Debate: Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill

followed by Topical Questions (if selected)

followed by First Minister’s Questions

followed by Committee Announcements

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

Wednesday 6 May 2020

2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.00 pm Stage 3 Proceedings: Consumer Scotland Bill

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time—[Liz Smith]


Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

I want to speak against the business motion, which proposes that we hold stage 1 and stage 3 debates in the chamber in the week beginning 4 May.

We are clear that, when the Parliament meets in person, it should do so only to deal with the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot return to business as usual in the chamber, therefore we cannot deal with normal business until we can do so remotely and in a way that is safe for all members to participate. The Parliament needs to lead by example: if we are asking others to prioritise only work that concerns the pandemic, we should do that, too.

We are also clear that, instead of the debates that are set out in the motion, we should debate the response to the pandemic and how we deal with its impact as we go forward. I do not believe that the Scottish people would understand any other response from their Parliament; I therefore move against the business motion.


Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

I thank Rhoda Grant for her comments. As the Parliament knows, the bureau sat earlier today and had several wide-ranging discussions about parliamentary procedures over the next few weeks. We decided this morning that we have pressing legislation business as well as statements and replies that have to be given in this Parliament.

Neil Findlay (Lothian) (Lab)

Will the member take an intervention?

Liz Smith

Yes, of course.

Neil Findlay

Members have come here today with a lot of questions from their constituents. We are putting those questions to Government ministers and to public bodies, without getting responses a lot of the time. The Parliament has never interrogated the Government’s strategy nor held it to account in a debate on these hugely important, life-and-death issues.

My plea is that the bureau considers having a two-day debate in the chamber so that all members have the opportunity to interrogate the issue, to discuss the questions that our constituents are asking and to do the job that we are sent here to do. If we can do that safely today, we can do it in a debate going forward.

Liz Smith

I thank Mr Findlay for his comments, which were also made by Rhoda Grant at the bureau meeting this morning, at which we had wide-ranging discussions. The debate is crucial. There are so many dimensions to it that we could be here in Parliament every day debating Covid-19; the public have every right to respect the way in which we debate the issue.

It is important that Mr Findlay understands that this morning, after considerable discussion, the bureau took the decision that there is pressing business. The bureau will review matters very shortly. The other point is that when it comes to plenary, we are not yet confident that we have the technology in place to ensure that we can debate and allow all members to contribute. We are working on that technology. I pay tribute to the Parliament’s members of staff who have done a fantastic job to ensure that we can debate. [Applause.]

I give an assurance on behalf of the bureau that we will review matters very shortly and ensure that Covid-19 is properly debated in every channel.

Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Lab)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I rise to seek your guidance. I believe, as I think we all do, that the entire focus of the Parliament should be on Covid-19 in the days and weeks ahead. As a supporter of the Consumer Scotland Bill, I struggle to see what is urgent about it. To be frank, the bill creates a new body, the responsibilities of which are already dealt with by the citizens advice network and others. I do not see the urgency in creating that new body and I would prefer for the time to be spent more productively on Covid-19.

There is nothing wrong with the business suggested for next week, but there is a problem with the business for 5 and 6 May. I seek your advice, Presiding Officer, on whether the bureau might reflect on that further.

The Presiding Officer

I thank Jackie Baillie for the point of order. Liz Smith has already responded and the bureau will consider the matter again at its meeting. As Ms Baillie knows, it is an on-going situation, which is changing every day. The Parliament will respond accordingly and I am confident that the bureau will, too.

The question is, that motion S5M-21505 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members: No.

The Presiding Officer

There will be a division.


Adam, George (Paisley) (SNP)
Arthur, Tom (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
Ballantyne, Michelle (South Scotland) (Con)
Beattie, Colin (Midlothian North and Musselburgh) (SNP)
Bowman, Bill (North East Scotland) (Con)
Briggs, Miles (Lothian) (Con)
Brown, Keith (Clackmannanshire and Dunblane) (SNP)
Cameron, Donald (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Campbell, Aileen (Clydesdale) (SNP)
Carlaw, Jackson (Eastwood) (Con)
Coffey, Willie (Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley) (SNP)
Cole-Hamilton, Alex (Edinburgh Western) (LD)
Constance, Angela (Almond Valley) (SNP)
Corry, Maurice (West Scotland) (Con)
Davidson, Ruth (Edinburgh Central) (Con)
Denham, Ash (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)
Doris, Bob (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)
Ewing, Annabelle (Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
Ewing, Fergus (Inverness and Nairn) (SNP)
Fabiani, Linda (East Kilbride) (SNP)
Forbes, Kate (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) (SNP)
Freeman, Jeane (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) (SNP)
Gibson, Kenneth (Cunninghame North) (SNP)
Gilruth, Jenny (Mid Fife and Glenrothes) (SNP)
Gougeon, Mairi (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)
Greene, Jamie (West Scotland) (Con)
Halcro Johnston, Jamie (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Harvie, Patrick (Glasgow) (Green)
Haughey, Clare (Rutherglen) (SNP)
Hyslop, Fiona (Linlithgow) (SNP)
Johnstone, Alison (Lothian) (Green)
Kerr, Liam (North East Scotland) (Con)
Kidd, Bill (Glasgow Anniesland) (SNP)
Lindhurst, Gordon (Lothian) (Con)
MacGregor, Fulton (Coatbridge and Chryston) (SNP)
Mackay, Rona (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP)
Maguire, Ruth (Cunninghame South) (SNP)
Martin, Gillian (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)
Mason, John (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)
McKelvie, Christina (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse) (SNP)
McMillan, Stuart (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP)
Rennie, Willie (North East Fife) (LD)
Robison, Shona (Dundee City East) (SNP)
Rumbles, Mike (North East Scotland) (LD)
Ruskell, Mark (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)
Simpson, Graham (Central Scotland) (Con)
Smith, Liz (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Stewart, Alexander (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Stewart, Kevin (Aberdeen Central) (SNP)
Sturgeon, Nicola (Glasgow Southside) (SNP)
Todd, Maree (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)
Torrance, David (Kirkcaldy) (SNP)
Whittle, Brian (South Scotland) (Con)
Wightman, Andy (Lothian) (Green)
Yousaf, Humza (Glasgow Pollok) (SNP)


Baillie, Jackie (Dumbarton) (Lab)
Baker, Claire (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Boyack, Sarah (Lothian) (Lab)
Findlay, Neil (Lothian) (Lab)
Grant, Rhoda (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
Gray, Iain (East Lothian) (Lab)
Johnson, Daniel (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)
Kelly, James (Glasgow) (Lab)
Lennon, Monica (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Leonard, Richard (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Macdonald, Lewis (North East Scotland) (Lab)
Sarwar, Anas (Glasgow) (Lab)
Smyth, Colin (South Scotland) (Lab)

The Presiding Officer

The result of the division is: For 55, Against 13, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to.