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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 28 April 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Covid-19 Legislation, Health (Covid-19), Transport (Covid-19), Topical Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Point of Order


Contents


Business Motions

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S5M-21600, 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 5 May 2020

2.00 pm Time for Reflection

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Topical Questions (if selected)

followed by Ministerial Statement: Economy (COVID-19)

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

followed by Committee Announcements

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

Wednesday 6 May 2020

2.45 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.45 pm First Minister’s Questions

followed by Stage 3 Proceedings: Consumer Scotland Bill

followed by Committee Announcements

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.30 pm Decision Time

Tuesday 12 May 2020

2.00 pm Time for Reflection

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Topical Questions (if selected)

followed by Scottish Government Debate: Suppressing COVID: Next Phase

followed by Committee Announcements

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

Wednesday 13 May 2020

2.45 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.45 pm First Minister’s Questions

followed by Stage 1 Debate: Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.15 pm Decision Time—[Graeme Dey]

The Presiding Officer

I believe that Rhoda Grant wishes to speak against the motion.

17:16  

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 next week. We are clear that, when the Parliament meets in person, it should do so only to discuss the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot return to business as usual in the chamber when we are asking others to undertake only work that is crucial to the Covid-19 response. As I said last week, the Parliament must lead by example.

The proposed business is consideration of legislation, and members must be present in the chamber in order to vote on that legislation. That disenfranchises members who must self-isolate. We proposed that, next week, we debate the Government’s response to the pandemic and the way forward. The debate on that could have been a debate without motion, meaning that there would be no vote. That would have allowed time for a remote plenary session to be tested and a remote voting system to be in place in order to allow legislation to be passed virtually. When that is in place, we will be able to continue the day-to-day work of the Parliament, because all members will be able to take part safely from home.

When the First Minister addresses people in her press conference, she reminds them of the importance of changing their way of life in order to save lives and protect the national health service, but that will have a hollow ring if she will not change her programme for government in order to do the same thing. We cannot deal with normal business until we can do so remotely and in a way that makes it safe for all members to participate.

The Parliament needs to lead by example. If we are asking others to prioritise only work regarding the pandemic, we should do that, too. Until all members are able to take part safely, we should not consider legislation. When we are forced to travel to meet physically in the Parliament, we should be involved only in work that deals with the pandemic.

To be frank, the “do as I say, not as I do” approach is wearing thin. If we do not get our act together, we will undermine the progress that is being made during the lockdown. If that happened, I do not believe that the Scottish people would forgive us. I made those points last week but, sadly, the other parties in the Parliament apparently do not share our concerns. We must therefore move against the business motion tonight.

The Presiding Officer

I call Graeme Dey, the Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans, to respond.

17:18  

The Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans (Graeme Dey)

As you know all too well, Presiding Officer, the unprecedented times that we are in have, among other things, posed a serious of challenges for this Parliament on how it meets and how it finds ways to effectively scrutinise the Government. I hope—and I believe—that the majority of Opposition parties in this institution would acknowledge that the Scottish Government has been a willing participant in facilitating that scrutiny, be it in plenary sessions, virtual sessions, sittings of established committees or the establishment of the special COVID-19 Committee.

However, the Parliament is also this nation’s legislature and, like other Parliaments, it has to find a balance between continuing to facilitate appropriate levels of coronavirus consideration and progressing legislation that is already on the agenda of its committees or is anticipated to be so.

I note that the United Kingdom Parliament is this week considering the Domestic Abuse Bill and the Fire Safety Bill, and I read that Labour is tabling amendments to the former. We, here in this place, are not alone in seeking to demonstrate that, as well as addressing the very urgent Covid-19 matters that are occupying our thoughts, we are progressing other issues, while practising social distancing, utilising remote means of scrutiny, and having Parliament staff actively seeking online voting solutions.

Given Labour’s active participation in the Domestic Abuse Bill that is going through Westminster today, and Alex Rowley’s call earlier this afternoon for the very Covid-related debate that this business programme schedules, I am sure that many in the chamber are somewhat baffled by Labour’s opposition to the motion.

The programme that the bureau approved today—by clear majority—strikes the balance that I noted earlier, as well as seeking to bring a degree of routine back into the sitting patterns of this Parliament. Under the proposals that were approved by the bureau, a fortnight today we will spend the afternoon in a debate titled “Suppressing COVID-19: The Next Phase”, which will afford members from all sides the opportunity to offer their thoughts on that important subject.

As minister for parliamentary business, I can further advise the chamber that the Government will shortly seek bureau approval to dedicate two afternoons the following week to conducting stage 1 and stage 3 of the second coronavirus bill. Between those debates and bill stages, not to mention First Minister’s question times, topical question times, statements, and virtual question times, members will have ample opportunity over the coming weeks to focus attention on the pandemic. However, it is right that this Parliament also demonstrates to the country that, having adapted its approaches to conducting business, and with the collective will, it can take forward some of the normal business of a Parliament.

On that basis, and on behalf of the bureau, I invite members to support the business programme that is set out in the motion.

The Presiding Officer

The question is, that motion S5M-21600 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members: No.

The Presiding Officer

There will be a division.

For

Adam, George (Paisley) (SNP)
Arthur, Tom (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
Ballantyne, Michelle (South Scotland) (Con)
Bowman, Bill (North East Scotland) (Con)
Briggs, Miles (Lothian) (Con)
Brown, Keith (Clackmannanshire and Dunblane) (SNP)
Carlaw, Jackson (Eastwood) (Con)
Constance, Angela (Almond Valley) (SNP)
Corry, Maurice (West Scotland) (Con)
Crawford, Bruce (Stirling) (SNP)
Cunningham, Roseanna (Perthshire South and Kinross-shire) (SNP)
Davidson, Ruth (Edinburgh Central) (Con)
Denham, Ash (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)
Dey, Graeme (Angus South) (SNP)
Doris, Bob (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)
Ewing, Annabelle (Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
Fabiani, Linda (East Kilbride) (SNP)
FitzPatrick, Joe (Dundee City West) (SNP)
Fraser, Murdo (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
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)
Greer, Ross (West Scotland) (Green)
Halcro Johnston, Jamie (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Hepburn, Jamie (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth) (SNP)
Johnstone, Alison (Lothian) (Green)
Kerr, Liam (North East Scotland) (Con)
Kidd, Bill (Glasgow Anniesland) (SNP)
Lochhead, Richard (Moray) (SNP)
MacDonald, Angus (Falkirk East) (SNP)
MacGregor, Fulton (Coatbridge and Chryston) (SNP)
Mackay, Rona (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP)
Macpherson, Ben (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (SNP)
Martin, Gillian (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)
Mason, John (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)
Matheson, Michael (Falkirk West) (SNP)
McAlpine, Joan (South Scotland) (SNP)
McKee, Ivan (Glasgow Provan) (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)
Russell, Michael (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)
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)
Torrance, David (Kirkcaldy) (SNP)
Whittle, Brian (South Scotland) (Con)
Wightman, Andy (Lothian) (Green)

Against

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)
McNeill, Pauline (Glasgow) (Lab)
Rowley, Alex (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Sarwar, Anas (Glasgow) (Lab)
Smyth, Colin (South Scotland) (Lab)

The Presiding Officer

The result of the division is: For 54, Against 15, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees the following programme of business—

Tuesday 5 May 2020

2.00 pm Time for Reflection

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Topical Questions (if selected)

followed by Ministerial Statement: Economy (COVID-19)

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

followed by Committee Announcements

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

Wednesday 6 May 2020

2.45 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.45 pm First Minister’s Questions

followed by Stage 3 Proceedings: Consumer Scotland Bill

followed by Committee Announcements

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.30 pm Decision Time

Tuesday 12 May 2020

2.00 pm Time for Reflection

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Topical Questions (if selected)

followed by Scottish Government Debate: Suppressing COVID: Next Phase

followed by Committee Announcements

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

5.00 pm Decision Time

Wednesday 13 May 2020

2.45 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions

2.45 pm First Minister’s Questions

followed by Stage 1 Debate: Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill

followed by Business Motions

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Approval of SSIs (if required)

5.15 pm Decision Time

The Presiding Officer

The next item of business is consideration of business motions S5M-21595 and S5M-21596, on the extension of a stage 1 timetable for two bills.

Motions moved,

That the Parliament agrees that consideration of the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill at stage 1 be extended to 29 May 2020.

That the Parliament agrees that consideration of the Children (Scotland) Bill at stage 1 be extended to 5 June 2020—[Graeme Dey]

Motions agreed to.