Back to the Scottish Parliament Business Bulletin No. 45/2008: Thursday 13 March 2008
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Section A – Today’s Business

Meeting of the Parliament

9.15 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions

followed by Scottish Liberal Democrats Debate: Transport—

S3M-1549 Jeremy Purvis: Transport—That the Parliament reaffirms its commitment to reinstating the Borders railway and condemns the SNP government for cancelling government funding for the construction of the line and failing to commit to a start date for its construction; deplores the uncertainty that this has caused about the future of the project, and calls on the Scottish Government to commit direct funding for the capital costs of the Borders railway and to take forward the construction of the project without delay.

The Presiding Officer has selected the following amendments

S3M-1549.2 Des McNulty: Transport—As an amendment to motion (S3M-1549) in the name of Jeremy Purvis, leave out from "commit direct funding" to end and insert "reinstate earmarked funding for the capital costs of the Borders railway with a view to taking forward the construction of the project without delay, and believes that ministers should be asked to appear before the relevant parliamentary committees to answer urgent questions over the delivery of the project, its escalating costs and the implications of the proposed funding arrangements for future transport and infrastructure projects."

S3M-1549.1 Alex Johnstone: Transport—As an amendment to motion (S3M-1549) in the name of Jeremy Purvis, leave out from "reaffirms" to end and insert "notes the decision to progress the Borders railway taken by the Parliament on 14 June 2006; regrets the delay in construction and the substantial increases in costs since the project’s inception, and calls on the Scottish Government to work with Transport Scotland and the relevant local authorities to ensure that the project is completed as quickly and cost effectively as possible."

The Presiding Officer has selected the following amendment to amendment

S3M-1549.1.1 Stewart Stevenson: Transport—As an amendment to amendment (S3M-1549.1) in the name of Alex Johnstone, after "inception" insert "commends the 450,000 tonnes of CO² saved by the project"

followed by Scottish Liberal Democrats Debate: Fuel Poverty—

S3M-1550 Liam McArthur: Fuel Poverty—That the Parliament deplores the fact that while household fuel prices have risen by six times the rate of inflation over the past year, power companies’ profits have risen by 500%; is concerned that, for every 5% increase in fuel prices, it is estimated that 40,000 more Scottish households become fuel poor, while almost 3,000 deaths per year are linked to living in cold, damp housing; believes that tackling the social, health and environmental impacts of fuel poverty can save people money, improve health to help tackle climate change; calls for the re-establishment of the Fuel Poverty Forum with a remit to include the development of a one-stop-shop approach to fuel poverty that increases the installation of energy efficiency measures, efficient central heating systems, microgeneration and smart meter technology; calls on the Scottish Government to consider the introduction of a local tax rebate to provide a further incentive to householders to invest in energy efficiency and microgeneration packages, and further calls for changes to planning rules to make it easier to install micropower.

The Presiding Officer has selected the following amendments

S3M-1550.3 Stewart Maxwell: Fuel Poverty—As an amendment to motion (S3M-1550) in the name of Liam McArthur, leave out from "calls on the Scottish Government" to end and insert "recognises the Scottish Government’s announcement on the consultation to remove planning restrictions on the wide range of energy generating and saving devices, and calls on the Scottish Government to make a statement to the Parliament before the summer recess outlining in detail its progress to more effectively address fuel poverty."

S3M-1550.1 Johann Lamont: Fuel Poverty—As an amendment to motion (S3M-1550) in the name of Liam McArthur, after "technology" insert "recognises the importance of continued support for voluntary and statutory organisations providing debt management, money and energy advice to those most affected by fuel poverty;".

S3M-1550.2 Jamie McGrigor: Fuel Poverty—As an amendment to motion (S3M-1550) in the name of Liam McArthur, leave out from "deplores the fact" to end and insert "regrets that the latest figures show that fuel poverty increased by 30% between 2004-05 and 2005-06, with nearly 50% of single pensioners experiencing fuel poverty, and welcomes the Ofgem investigation into the domestic retail market and the similar investigation by the House of Commons Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee; further regrets that almost 3,000 deaths per year are linked to living in cold, damp housing; believes that tackling the social, health and environmental impacts of fuel poverty can save people money, improve health and help to tackle climate change; calls for the re-establishment of the Fuel Poverty Forum with a remit to include the development of a one-stop-shop approach to fuel poverty that increases the installation of energy efficiency measures, efficient central heating systems, microgeneration and smart meter technology, and further calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that the central heating programme is reaching those who need it most."

11.40 am General Question Time—

1. Alex Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Executive whether the withdrawal of Housing Estates Renewal funding from the Mayfield Community Regeneration Project in Arbroath will be used to offset local and national reductions in Housing Association Grant, reported to be 25% in Tayside in 2008-09. (S3O-2563)

2. Karen Gillon: To ask the Scottish Executive how it intends to implement the findings of the Commissioner for Children and Young people in Scotland’s report on the moving and handling of young people with disabilities. (S3O-2612)

3. Cathie Craigie: To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to address and highlight the dangers of underage drinking. (S3O-2607)

4. Alison McInnes: To ask the Scottish Executive what timescale is in place for the public local inquiry into the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. (S3O-2646)

5. Johann Lamont: To ask the Scottish Executive how housing and regeneration isses will be developed by community planning partnerships. (S3O-2621)

6. Christina McKelvie: To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to address the historically low detection and conviction rate for rape and sexual assault. (S3O-2591)

7. Jeremy Purvis: To ask the Scottish Executive how it is supporting tourism in the Scottish Borders. (S3O-2650)

8. Malcolm Chisholm: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will extend the water and sewerage charge exemption scheme beyond 2010. (S3O-2606)

9. Gavin Brown: To ask the Scottish Executive on what date its review into the structure of Scottish Water will begin. (S3O-2566)

10. Iain Gray: To ask the Scottish Executive what progress local authorities have made in implementing single status agreements. (S3O-2616)

12 noon First Minister’s Question Time—

1. Ms Wendy Alexander: To ask the First Minister what engagements he has planned for the rest of the day. (S3F-588)

2. Annabel Goldie: To ask the First Minister when he will next meet the Prime Minister. (S3F-589)

3. Nicol Stephen: To ask the First Minister what issues will be discussed at the next meeting of the Cabinet. (S3F-590)

4. Joe FitzPatrick: To ask the First Minister what impact the UK Budget is expected to have on Scottish industry. (S3F-595)

5. Dr Richard Simpson: To ask the First Minister how the Scottish Government will support people who are trying to give up smoking. (S3F-605)

6. David McLetchie: To ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Government will press ahead with a nationally set income tax to fund local government services without the co-operation of HM Revenue and Customs. (S3F-597)

2.15 pm Themed Question Time—

Education and Lifelong Learning

1. Bill Butler: To ask the Scottish Executive how it plans to improve performance in schools located in areas of deprivation. (S3O-2605)

2. David McLetchie: To ask the Scottish Executive what action is being taken to address the numbers of sixth year school pupils who are unable to access the full range of subjects at advanced higher level. (S3O-2557)

3. Charlie Gordon: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide an update on the establishment of Skills Development Scotland. (S3O-2614)

4. Karen Whitefield: To ask the Scottish Executive what progress it is making in calculating the cost of implementing its policy on reducing class sizes. (S3O-2640)

5. Margaret Mitchell: To ask the Scottish Executive to what extent it considers that school buildings should be accessible to wider community youth projects outwith school hours. (S3O-2561)

6. John Farquhar Munro: To ask the Scottish Executive what action it will take to support the smallest rural primary schools and recognise the particular strains on teaching resources where pupils across a range of age groups are being taught in the same classroom. (S3O-2647)

7. Bob Doris: To ask the Scottish Executive how it supports parents and families. (S3O-2581)

8. David Stewart: To ask the Scottish Executive what progress it is making in delivering the SNP manifesto commitment to increase the entitlement to free nursery education for three and four-year-olds from 400 to 600 hours a year. (S3O-2639)

9. Liam McArthur: To ask the Scottish Executive whether its commitment to reduce class sizes to 18 in primaries one to three can be ignored by local authorities where the reduction is not considered to be in the best interests of pupils in particular schools. (S3O-2645)

10. Peter Peacock: To ask the Scottish Executive what value it places on school library services in supporting the school curriculum and pupil learning.

Europe, External Affairs and Culture

1. Michael Matheson: To ask the Scottish Executive how it intends to promote the Gaelic language. (S3O-2589)

2. Richard Baker: To ask the Scottish Executive what it is doing to support the performing arts in the regions of Scotland. (S3O-2601)

3. Derek Brownlee: To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to enhance Scotland’s reputation internationally. (S3O-2559)

4. Michael McMahon: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it intends to revise the "One Scotland. Many Cultures" campaign. (S3O-2627)

5. Stuart McMillan: To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it has taken, or plans to take, to urge the UK Government to hold a referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty. (S3O-2592)

6. Mike Rumbles: To ask the Scottish Executive how it will ensure that the Scottish Arts Council provides sufficient support for The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen when it reopens in June. (S3O-2651)

7. Jim Tolson: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has any plans to increase resources to the National Theatre of Scotland to enable it to increase its ability to tour Scotland and foreign destinations. (S3O-2656)

8. Margaret Smith: To ask the Scottish Executive what its position is on the importance of the role of cultural projects, such as the North Edinburgh Arts Centre in Muirhouse, in the regeneration of local communities. (S3O-2654)

9. Jamie Stone: To ask the Scottish Executive what discussions it has had with the National Galleries of Scotland with a view to some of the £125 million art collection recently donated by Anthony d’Offay to the Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland being permanently located and displayed in some of Scotland’s remoter areas, such as Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. (S3O-2655)

10. Elaine Smith: To ask the Scottish Executive what links it is planning to establish with Venezuela. (S3O-2638)

2.55 pm Scottish Government Debate: National Parks—

S3M-1548 Michael Russell: National Parks—That the Parliament notes the forthcoming strategic review of Scotland’s two national parks; welcomes the opportunities that the national parks give to Scotland’s citizens and visitors, and in particular commends their contribution to the greener Scotland agenda.

The Presiding Officer has selected the following amendments

S3M-1548.2 David Stewart: National Parks—As an amendment to motion (S3M-1548) in the name of Michael Russell, insert at end "and believes that the following issues should be included for specific consideration in the review: the effectiveness of the national parks in achieving the main objectives set out in the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000, the success of the national parks in building community engagement and involvement in the development of both parks, and whether the boundaries of the parks should be reviewed."

S3M-1548.1 John Scott: National Parks—As an amendment to motion (S3M-1548) in the name of Michael Russell, insert at end "and calls on the Scottish Government to address concerns regarding the structural effectiveness of the national park authorities as presently constituted with a view to enhancing local participation and to address ongoing issues with regard to the southern boundary of the Cairngorms National Park."

S3M-1548.3 Jim Hume: National Parks—As an amendment to motion (S3M-1548) in the name of Michael Russell, insert at end "welcomes the quinquennial review as an opportunity to examine the operation of the park authorities and any proposed boundary changes; believes that the park authorities’ national body status and strong directly elected presence provides the parks with the freedom and flexibility to carry out their unique statutory objectives and to meet the needs of very different park areas across Scotland; considers that any attempt to roll up the park authorities with Scottish Natural Heritage would hamper the parks’ capability to achieve these objectives, would damage local accountability and democracy and could have serious conflict of interest ramifications, and therefore calls for the forthcoming strategic review of the national parks to retain the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority and the Cairngorms National Park Authority as national bodies with at least five directly elected board members."

followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions—

S3M-1541 Bruce Crawford on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Approval of SSI—That the Parliament agrees that the draft Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Amendment Order 2008 be approved.

S3M-1542 Bruce Crawford on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Approval of SSI—That the Parliament agrees that the draft Official Statistics (Scotland) Order 2008 be approved.

S3M-1543 Bruce Crawford on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Approval of SSI—That the Parliament agrees that the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 2008 be approved.

5.00 pm Decision Time

followed by Members’ Business:

Debate on the subject of—

S3M-1346 Aileen Campbell: No End in Sight to the War in Iraq—That the Parliament notes the continuing effort of Rose Gentle from Pollok, Glasgow, and Beverley Clarke from Stafford to have the legality of the Iraq War tested in court; further notes that the Stop the War Coalition has called demonstrations in Glasgow and elsewhere on 15 March 2008 to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict; recalls the massive worldwide demonstrations against the war on 15 February 2003, in which many MSPs and people from the south of Scotland and across the country participated; believes that the legality of the war should be tested in the courts and continue to be discussed in the wider public arena; supports the demonstration taking place in Glasgow on 15 March, and believes that work in the international community should continue to speedily bring about peace and stability to Iraq.

Contents An A B C D E F G H I J