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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Thursday, February 23, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 23 February 2017

Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Oil and Gas Sector Co-investment, Point of Order, Budget (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Points of Order, Decision Time


Contents


Points of Order

Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands) (LD)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. A governance review of public bodies subjected to the Scottish Government’s skills review was published this afternoon, making recommendations on the Highlands and Islands Enterprise board and, indeed, on others. As you know, Presiding Officer, Parliament has already voted to retain HIE’s strategic decision-making board, and the proposals now in front of Parliament would change that. In light of the vote that the Parliament has already had, have you had any indication that the Government wishes to make a statement on the matter?

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

I thank Mr Scott for his point of order. I am about to address it imminently, given that the same issue was raised by Rhoda Grant earlier this afternoon.

Douglas Ross (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Under standing order 7.3, I seek your guidance after Gail Ross, during the debate that has just completed, twice called Edward Mountain a liar in relation to the concerns that he was raising about maternity cover at Caithness general hospital. When I raised the issue during the debate, the Deputy Presiding Officer and her officials said that they had not heard the word. So that the issue can be dealt with, will you seek confirmation from the member that she did, in fact, use that word twice? If not, will you check the audio and the video recordings of this meeting, which will show that even her colleagues who were sitting next to her were concerned about the language that she used?

The Presiding Officer

I will address the points of order in turn. First—

George Adam (Paisley) (SNP)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Under rule 7.3 of the standing orders, I seek your guidance on comments that were made by Kezia Dugdale today during First Minister’s question time. She said that I could not even be bothered to respond to the public consultation on paediatric services in the Royal Alexandra hospital. However, I have this afternoon received a letter of apology from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which says that, due to an administrative oversight, my submission was not included in the report.

In this age of alternative truths, I am sure that Kezia Dugdale would not wish to put petty political point scoring ahead of the facts. Will Kezia Dugdale be given the opportunity to correct the record on that matter?

The Presiding Officer

That is not a point of order for me to rule on, but it is a point. The member was named in the proceedings earlier, and he has now been able to make a correction and put his point of view. That will be noted by all.

Tavish Scott and, earlier, Rhoda Grant raised points of order about the publication of Lorne Crerar’s report on the enterprise and skills review. I have looked into this matter further. I understand that the cabinet secretary wrote to the convener of the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee just after 2.30 pm today, and that the report has now been placed in the Scottish Parliament information centre. The news release that Rhoda Grant referred to was issued more than 30 minutes before that.

The Scottish Government will be aware that there has been significant interest in this issue across all parties. In those circumstances, I would expect the Government to make all members aware of the report’s publication at the same time. I invite the cabinet secretary—who I cannot see in the chamber—to reflect on that. Members of the Parliamentary Bureau will be aware that the cabinet secretary has undertaken to come back to Parliament on the issue in due course, so there is an expectation that members will have the opportunity to question the cabinet secretary on the issue and to discuss it further.

On Mr Ross’s point of order—

Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer.

The Presiding Officer

If I may, Mr Johnson, I will just finish my comments on the previous points of order. I will then take the fourth point of order.

On Mr Ross’s point of order, I was in the chamber for the earlier part of the debate and I followed the debate during the afternoon. I understand that the debate was a heated one and that emotions were running high. Neither the Deputy Presiding Officer who was in the chair at the time nor the clerks heard the remarks that were referred to. I simply take this opportunity to remind all members to treat each other with courtesy and respect and not to make personal remarks or use unparliamentary language.

Daniel Johnson

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Given your confirmation that Kate Forbes released the information about Lorne Crerar’s report 30 minutes prior to its being placed in SPICe, do you consider that rule 4.1.1 of the ministerial code has been breached? It states explicitly that parliamentary liaison officers are required to exercise care in the use of any official information to which they have access in the course of their duties as a PLO.

The Presiding Officer

Again, that is not a point of order. The ministerial code is a matter for the First Minister and the Government. However, I have made my views on the matter known and I expect the minister to reflect on the matter.

Are there any further points of order? [Laughter.] Thank you.