Joe FitzPatrick MSP

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Joe FitzPatrick MSP

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  • Member for: Dundee City West
  • Region: North East Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Joe is a member of the following Committees:

Joe is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

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Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
The Minister for Parliamentary Business (Joe FitzPatrick)

I, too, congratulate Christina McKelvie and thank her for bringing such an important and timely debate to the chamber.

The referendum was a remarkable demonstration of democracy at its best, and I think that this afternoon’s debate has demonstrated this chamber at its best, too. Members have made impassioned speeches recalling young people’s engagement and energy and their considered contributions to the debate on Scotland’s future. Clare Adamson highlighted how the youth theatre was such a great reflection of our young people, and Joan McAlpine very importantly praised the role played by schools in ensuring that our young people had the information that they required to take part in what Hanzala Malik called a passionate debate.

It was right for Christina McKelvie to start off by thanking our ambitious young people who, by and large, ensured that we managed to get votes for 16-year-olds in the referendum. However, it was also important that she acknowledged those perhaps longer in the tooth who have been campaigning for votes at 16 for a very long time, some of whom are in the chamber this afternoon.

A lot has been said about the record-breaking turnout and unprecedented levels of engagement by the people of Scotland, but it is crucial that we continue to engage and enthuse them. We must not lose the momentum that was reflected in the substantial number of people who voted for the first time, around 109,000 of whom were 16 and 17-year-olds. That is a huge number of people.

The eighteenth of September was the first time that 16 and 17-year-olds were entitled to vote in a national poll. The SNP Government has had the policy for a long time. As Christina McKelvie said, we have always believed in extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds, and we have done that where we have the powers to do so. I know that that is the position of probably every member who is in the chamber and a large number of members, across the parties, who are not with us.

However, when the Government introduced the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill in 2013, there was not universal agreement on the principle of enfranchising 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum. Members of the Scottish Parliament and, in particular, members of the Referendum (Scotland) Bill Committee should be proud of the way in which they scrutinised the Scottish Government’s proposals and of their constructive and pragmatic approach. That was the case for members of the committee and of the Parliament irrespective of where they stood on the principle of the franchise. Members ensured that, if it was going to happen, we would do it properly and safely and we devised a workable system for safely extending the franchise.

It is a measure of the strength of those proposals and the Parliament’s work that the arrangements received broad support across the political spectrum and among key stakeholders such as child protection groups and electoral administrators, both before and after the referendum. As I said at the time, not everyone agreed with the principles. Looking back, like Kezia Dugdale, I find it hard to believe that the measure was ever viewed as controversial, but it was. It has been a pleasure to witness the democratic engagement of our young people, who were proud to claim the right to register their vote on a question about the future of their country. The measure is no longer controversial.

Marco Biagi mentioned that, because the arrangements worked to such good effect, they provide us with a template for extending the franchise not just in Scotland but elsewhere in the UK and maybe in other jurisdictions that might be looking at how things worked in Scotland. I was particularly pleased to hear John Lamont’s support for extending the franchise for all elections.

The Scottish Parliament already has a range of powers with regard to local government elections, which we have used to good effect, I think. However, Westminster retains responsibility for the franchise for and the method of electing members to the Scottish Parliament and members’ length of tenure. Sections 1 to 3 of the Scotland Act 2012 will devolve some but not full responsibility for the administration of those elections. Those sections will be commenced as soon as possible to ensure that we can prepare for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016. However, even after the commencement of those sections, the Scottish Parliament will still be without key powers in relation to the election of its members. To be clear, without powers that are additional to those that will be devolved by the Scotland Act 2012, we cannot legislate to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the elections for the Parliament in May 2016 or the local elections in 2017. I hope colleagues will strongly agree that the Parliament must have those powers.

The referendum and its underpinning legislation were made in Scotland and there is no reason why that should not be the case for all elections in future. With the Scottish elections just 20 months away, the Government has written to the UK Government requesting as a matter of urgency the devolution of the remaining responsibilities for elections to the Scottish Parliament and local elections in Scotland. We have also urged the UK Government to introduce legislation at Westminster to lower the voting age for its elections—that resonates with John Lamont’s comments.

In the run-up to the referendum, I was privileged to join Cabinet colleagues at a number of events to engage thousands of people on our proposals for Scotland’s future. One of those events was specifically designed to allow us to interact with and listen to our young people. It was held in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow and was jointly organised with the Scottish Youth Parliament, Young Scot and YouthLink Scotland, supported by other youth organisations.

A variety of subjects were discussed, including education, the constitution, defence, young carers, the environment and much more. For me, one question that a very articulate young woman put to me stood out. Very reasonably, she asked whether 16 and 17-year-olds would get to vote in the elections to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, which at the time I hoped would be for the first independent Scottish Parliament. I answered that, in line with SNP policy, an SNP Government in an independent Scotland would legislate to reduce the voting age to 16 for all elections. “But what about the election in May 2016?” was her retort. “You can’t give us the vote then take it back,” she said. “That would be wrong.” She was absolutely right. It will not be an election for an independent Scotland, but it would be a travesty if we cannot find a way to ensure that 16 and 17-year-olds are enfranchised to vote in that election.

Scotland’s young people have amply demonstrated their enthusiasm, engagement and willingness to participate in our democratic processes. They have not taken their responsibility lightly and neither should we. I sincerely hope, therefore, that the UK Government will take proper note of the positive experiences that we have had here in Scotland, so that we can ensure that all 16 and 17-year-olds are able to vote in all future elections.

13:15 Meeting suspended.  14:30 On resuming—  

Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The Minister for Parliamentary Business (Joe FitzPatrick)

We are not going to get back that couple of minutes. Paul Martin has offered a complete work of fiction; let me offer the chamber some facts.

First, the programme for government’s timing will see all bills progressing to the same timescale as if the programme had been introduced on the first week back after summer recess. There will be no material difference to the timetable of our legislation programme.

Secondly, the Scottish Government continues to govern as it has always done: effectively and in the interests of the people of Scotland.

I thank Paul Martin for giving me the opportunity to highlight just some of our recent achievements. Tomorrow, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, will publish our budget, focusing on tackling inequality and economic growth.

On Monday, Scottish Water announced its £3.5 billion infrastructure investment programme, which will secure work to support some 5,000 construction jobs. Just last month, we introduced a bill to end the automatic early release of long-term prisoners. We are taking through legislation to control the use of air weapons. From January, free school meals will be introduced for primary 1 to 3—shamefully, the Labour Party voted against that proposal.

The people of Scotland are seeing through the Labour Party, which has betrayed its roots to work hand in glove with the Tory party in talking Scotland down. The people of Scotland prefer positivity, vision and aspiration to the Labour Party’s toxic brand of negativity, doom and despair. That is why the SNP has a 15-point lead over Labour in opinion polls and why the SNP has had more than 52,000 brand new members since the referendum. What is crucial for the Labour Party is that our trade union group probably has more members than make up Scottish Labour’s entire membership.

That is why the people of Scotland will continue to put their trust in this party of government, which continues to discharge its duties in the best interests of the people of Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The Minister for Parliamentary Business (Joe FitzPatrick)

I can confirm that Mr Swinney will provide in his closing speech the information that Mr Carlaw seeks.



Meeting of the Parliament 06 August 2014 : Wednesday, August 06, 2014
The Minister for Parliamentary Business (Joe FitzPatrick) Will the member take an intervention?



Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee 19 June 2014 : Thursday, June 19, 2014
The Minister for Parliamentary Business (Joe FitzPatrick)

My opening remarks would be similar to the written evidence that we submitted, so I will just quickly emphasise that we welcome the committee’s inquiry. It is absolutely appropriate that the Parliament periodically reviews its systems to ensure that they remain fit for purpose and to ensure that we continue to improve the Parliament’s processes. It has been interesting for us to consider the written and oral evidence that you have received and to hear just now about some of the public engagement that you have been doing as part of that process. Such public engagement is one of the increasing strengths of our Parliament.

It might be helpful if my colleagues briefly introduced themselves and said what they do as part of our team.



Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee 19 June 2014 : Thursday, June 19, 2014
Joe FitzPatrick

Yes. Obviously, in the committee’s inquiry, we are mostly looking at the Parliament’s process from stage 1 to stage 3, but the whole process begins long before that, of course, and continues after that in implementation. There is a huge amount of engagement before a bill is produced. One way in which we can do that is through using a draft bill. I think that it has been pretty consistent that there have been draft bills for around 25 per cent of the bills in all the sessions of the Parliament.

When a draft bill is appropriate, it is very helpful, but I am not sure that a draft bill would be beneficial for every single bill. It would simply not be appropriate for some bills. As I said, we already have draft bills for around 25 per cent of bills, which is helpful.

When we have looked at the process, we have wondered whether the Parliament could engage more prior to a bill’s introduction and somehow take part in the Government’s consultation work before that. That would clearly not be to form a final view. The committees would always want to protect their position in scrutinising bills that have been introduced, but that approach would offer an opportunity for members of specialist committees who have developed specialist knowledge in an area to feed into the Government’s thinking at an earlier stage in developing bills. That might be helpful.



Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee 19 June 2014 : Thursday, June 19, 2014
Joe FitzPatrick

I do not think that there would be any need for a standing order change to allow committees to take part in pre-legislative scrutiny. In fact, a number of committees already do that. I think that the Education and Culture Committee did a fair bit of engagement prior to the introduction of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill. It knew that that bill was coming, so it started to do some work. Currently, the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee is doing some land reform scrutiny in advance of a bill.

Such an approach is therefore possible, and it happens. When it does, it means that committee members are able to engage at stage 1 with a much higher level of understanding of the thinking of the Government and stakeholders. There might be an additional opportunity to engage with the Government’s consultation process, which probably does not happen very much now. However, I do not think that any of that would need standing order changes. Perhaps we should highlight the fact that that opportunity exists.



Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee 19 June 2014 : Thursday, June 19, 2014
Joe FitzPatrick

It probably is horses for courses to some extent, but any committee involvement in pre-legislative scrutiny would have to not debar it from making decisions about how it would scrutinise any bill that came out of that process. That would be a very important principle to maintain. The opportunity would be an additional opportunity that would not take away at all from the stage 1 scrutiny.



Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee 19 June 2014 : Thursday, June 19, 2014
Joe FitzPatrick

I think that, in the main, the accompanying documents are very robust. We have had a look at them over the parliamentary session. Perhaps Steven Macgregor will talk about how the documents have grown in size and complexity since the first session.

However, there may be an issue with how accessible all the documents are to members of Parliament and members of the public. We should certainly look at that. For instance, the financial memorandum is almost hidden away. It may be that each of the documents should be more easily accessible individual documents, so if somebody wants to find the financial memorandum, it should be relatively easy for them to find it as a document in its own right. We should look at how we can improve accessibility.

One way forward is to consider how to use the internet more. I know that not everyone has access to the internet but, increasingly, it is becoming the way people access information. Using the internet gives us opportunities to improve access and to make it much simpler for people to find the information that they want and access the documents. Accompanying documents are very helpful to the Parliament and the Government, so we should continue to try to improve them.

One of the challenges that we sometimes have is knowing exactly what Parliament wants in an accompanying document. That might be why, over time, documents have got bigger and bigger and yet sometimes we still hear that they are not doing what Parliament wants. There is a need for a discussion between the Parliament and the Government to work out some guidelines about what is expected to be in a financial memorandum, for instance.

The guidelines that currently exist are very high-level guidelines and sometimes what we produce is exactly what a committee wants and sometimes it is not what a committee wants. We need to have a better understanding of what it is that Parliament wants from the documents. Perhaps Steven Macgregor can talk a bit about some of the documents and how they have changed over time.



Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee 19 June 2014 : Thursday, June 19, 2014
Joe FitzPatrick

We always try to do things by discussion with the Parliament and the committees. The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, for instance, has raised concerns about the fact that the delegated powers memorandum does not include guidance and direction-making powers. The standing orders do not require that, but there is probably not a good reason for that not to be the case. That may be something that you want to look at.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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YesCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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YesCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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YesCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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YesCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
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YesCarried

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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YesCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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NoDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Joe FitzPatrick
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11143: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11128: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11127: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11126: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11125: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11124: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11123: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11117: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11113: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11037: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4F-00804: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/06/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-00742: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01042: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-00653: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00919: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/04/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-00387: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/01/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00537: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/12/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-00325: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/12/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00500: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/11/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-00470: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/11/2011 Show Full Question >>

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