just been sitting through one of the most bizarre exchanges. The
SNP Government has decided to withdraw a motion rather than put it
to the vote. Labour MSPs have jumped to their feet and decried
Ministers for daring to do so, a Lib Dem MSP asked whether he could
move the motion instead and another Lib Dem MSP has sough to move an
emergency motion to have the original motion debated.
Presiding Officer has ruled that such an emergency motion will not
be accepted thanks to the very reasonable commitment on the part of
the SNP Scottish Government to bring the Sewel Motion back to the
chamber next week. Seems reasonable? Nope, Lib Dem MSP Robert
Brown got back on his feet and accused the Government of not making
that commitment; Labour MSP Jackie Baillie got on her feet and said
that refusing the emergency motion was not right because the
Government would have lost the vote; and Lib Dem MSP Jeremy Purvis
rose to say that Parliament was the place for debate; Labour MSP
Helen Eadie chipped in with the opinion that Parliament was
sovereign and so the Presiding Officer should put the motion; Labour
MSP Karen Gillon weighed in with a call for the Procedures Committee
to consider the actions of the Government. Through it all,
Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson patiently continued to explain that
it was the right of any member to withdraw a motion in their name
before it was debated.
motion thatís caused all the fuss is a Legislative Consent Motion
(also known as a Sewel Motion) to allow London to legislate on a
devolved area (dormant bank accounts in this instance). There seems
to be some accusation that the SNP Government is using Parliamentary
procedure to do what needs done. Theyíll be calling us politicians
fantastic ruckus caps a very interesting week in Parliament.
in the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee hearing
evidence on Scotlandís Built Heritage when Alex Salmond, John
Swinney, Scotlandís Chief Planner and the Head of Planning Decisions
as well as the Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council were being
questioned about the decision to call in the planning decision for
the Menie Estate.
obviously didnít see the questioning but Iím told that the Civil
Servants and the Aberdeenshire Council Officer handled the
questioning without difficulty, giving straight and true answers and
exonerating the politicians involved. The committee, strangely, ran
out of time for questioning the politicians, and their contributions
was also the week when the Finance Committee reported on the SNPís
budget proposals. There was a general expectation that the SNP
would take a bit of a hiding on the budget, but it just didnít
happen. Lib Dems never put forward amendments to support what
theyíd been saying, and the Tories put forward a couple of areas
where they wanted additional effort put in Ė two areas which the SNP
could support easily.
strangest contribution was from Labour politicians who wanted to cut
the Winter Roads Maintenance Budget (for safety on winter roads);
the Capital Works Budget; the Routine Winter Maintenance Budget;
Police Support Services; the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement
Agency; anti-terrorism spending; and the Health Information Budget.
these requests were turned down by the other committee members, of
course, and the SNP budget carries on. John Swinney has delivered a
superb piece of work with this budget, and heís doing a fantastic
job in charge of Scotlandís finances.
of all that fuss and excitement, the STUC has been in Parliament
this week for Trade Union week and Iíve been at a few events Ė the
Scottish Workplace and Productivity Challenge kicking it off on
Tuesday Ė what a name for an event!
gearing up now for the Cambuslang bye-election to find a councillor
to take over from Councillor John Higgins who died recently. We
need to find a councillor as dedicated to improving the area for
everyone who lives there.
of Parliament this week, Iíve been in meetings about the Ravenscraig
site and hearing about the plans for moving forward, and listening
to people who have some fantastic ideas about driving the project
forward. I also met with Scottish Enterprise about hosting a skills
exhibition in Parliament at the end of this month.