John Scott MSP

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Deputy Presiding Officer

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Meeting of the Parliament 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The Deputy Presiding Officer (John Scott)

The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-11537, in the name of Marco Biagi, on marking the anniversary of the Ukrainian famine. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

I invite Kenneth Gibson to open the debate on behalf of Marco Biagi.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes the day of remembrance of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33, on 22 November 2014; further notes that conservative estimates place the number of mortalities in the millions; understands that many historians consider this an entirely avoidable tragedy and a deliberate act of genocide committed by the Stalin regime, and commends the work of campaigners in raising awareness of the Holodomor.

17:01  

Meeting of the Parliament 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
John Scott

Does the minister accept that, in Mr Stevenson’s speech, the one obvious and current element that was missing was the contribution of Turing to cryptography?



Meeting of the Parliament 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
John Scott (Ayr) (Con)

I thank members for the quality of this afternoon’s debate. It is clear that the Legal Writings (Counterparts and Delivery) (Scotland) Bill has achieved cross-party support, and I reaffirm that the Scottish Conservatives are supportive of its general principles at stage 1.

There are, however, three points that I wish to address. The first point is the potential benefits of the bill to the business community, legal practitioners and those individuals who seek to use Scots law for transactional purposes. As we heard in evidence from the minister, Fergus Ewing, and from Margaret Mitchell, there is uncertainty in Scots law at present as to whether execution in counterpart is permissible. That uncertainty has acted as a deterrent for businesses and the legal profession.

In addition, parties are often unable to undertake the time-consuming, impractical and costly signing ceremonies that are currently required. Further, it is unclear whether a traditional paper document can be delivered electronically. As a result, in many cases the relevant parties have opted instead to use English or New York law to remove any doubt, which has been to the detriment of Scots law.

The proposed legislation will help to ensure that those who wish to operate under Scots law can do so, by removing many obstacles and constraints. Although we must manage expectations regarding the potential increase in transactions under Scots law that may arise from the bill, the evidence suggests that measures to put execution in counterpart on a statutory footing will give businesses and ordinary individuals the confidence to stop exporting contracts to English law and elsewhere that would otherwise be governed by Scots law. That is an extremely positive and welcome development.

I turn to the risk of fraud, which has been raised by other members and by the Faculty of Advocates. The faculty commented that execution in counterpart could lead to different parties signing different versions of a document, either knowingly or unknowingly. Furthermore, the faculty expressed concern that parties will be able to exchange signature pages, as opposed to counterparts in their entirety.

Expanding on those concerns, Robert Howie QC explained:

“If one permits execution by the exchange of the back pages of a contract, each signed by a particular party, plus the front page, it is all too easy for the rogue or fraudster to amend the critical stuff in the middle of the sandwich.”—[Official Report, Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, 30 September 2014; c 22.]

Further, the faculty touched on the possibility that such a scenario could lead to an increase in instances of parties coming to court in order to resolve disagreements over the content of the documents. For large transactions, where millions of pounds are at stake, the potential for deception should not be ignored.

However, on balance, and based on the evidence that we heard over a number of sessions, it seemed to me—and to committee colleagues—that the potential for fraud and error is no greater than that which already exists under the current system in Scotland and in jurisdictions where execution by counterpart is commonplace, such as England and Wales, where incidents of fraud are relatively few. Nevertheless, it is worth while bearing in mind the faculty’s concerns as the bill moves through its various stages in Parliament.

The bill does not include the SLC’s recommendation that a central electronic repository should be established. However, that idea was broadly supported by witnesses in their evidence to the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, and we felt that the concept should be explored further—always providing that adequate safeguards could be put in place and that the technology used would be suitable, adaptable and enduring.

I therefore welcomed the then Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism’s update earlier this month, when he indicated that the keeper of the registers of Scotland has expressed interest in exploring the creation of an electronic repository for the execution and preservation of documents. I understand that preliminary discussions between Registers of Scotland and the Scottish Government will be set in motion early next year. We will await the outcome of the discussions with keen interest. We are particularly interested in knowing whether new legislation will be required to bring the initiative into effect, given that it might allow for the execution of documents as well as their preservation.

I reiterate that the bill is helpful and will benefit the business community in Scotland, as well as the legal profession and individuals who seek to carry out transactions under Scots law. That is very much to be welcomed.

I thank everyone who gave evidence to the committee, particularly the people who appeared in person and the Scottish Law Commission. I also thank the committee clerks. I look forward to the bill becoming law.

I commend Mike MacKenzie, who managed to get through about four minutes of his speech without referring to the bill at all. Stewart Stevenson should beware; his role as the Parliament’s best filibuster might be under threat.

16:46  

Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Deputy Presiding Officer

You are virtually out of it.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Deputy Presiding Officer

Thank you very much for that quintessential speech.

16:08  

Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Deputy Presiding Officer

You should draw to a close, please.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Deputy Presiding Officer

The member is in his last minute.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Deputy Presiding Officer (John Scott)

We are now tighter for time. I call Stewart Stevenson, who has up to six minutes now.

16:02  

Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Deputy Presiding Officer

You need to come to a close, please.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Deputy Presiding Officer

In view of the number of members who wish to speak in today’s debate, I am minded to accept a motion under rule 8.14 to extend the time allowed.

Motion moved,

That, under Rule 8.14.3, the debate be extended by up to 30 minutes.—[John Wilson.]

Motion agreed to.

13:01  
Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
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YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
>> Show more
YesDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by John Scott
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-09601: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 02/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06503: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 08/05/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05293: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 21/12/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-04327: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-01899: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/02/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-00930: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2011 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S3M-07763: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2011 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S3M-07717: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/01/2011 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S3M-07681: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/01/2011 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S3M-07574: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2010 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by John Scott
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4T-00763: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 10/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20418: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02948: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02660: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/11/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02563: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/11/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02500: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02445: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/09/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-16717: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-16715: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-16716: John Scott, Ayr, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2013 Show Full Question >>

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