John Wilson MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
John Wilson (Central Scotland) (Ind)

The petition and today’s debate highlight the important role that the Public Petitions Committee plays in this Parliament.

The issue under discussion is an easy and relatively straightforward subject, as many members have said. The resistance to having a general register of judicial interests seems, to my mind and to many others, to come from ingrained conservative forces, and I am clearly not talking about Mr Carlaw in this instance. However, his impersonation of one of his colleagues may highlight the conservative nature of the legal profession.

The Public Petitions Committee has attempted to engage in a positive manner with all those identified by the petition. The same cannot be said of all those who have had an input on the public record. The Lord President, Lord Gill, declined to accept the committee’s invitation to give evidence in respect of the petition on the ground of “constitutional principle”, with particular reference to section 23(7) of the Scotland Act 1998. Although that might be considered by some to be a reasonable response, it is undermined by the fact that Lord Gill has appeared before other committees of this Parliament.

In principle, there is good practice taking place in Scotland. Elected members such as councillors and members of this Parliament have to make undertakings in their own registers of interests, so why there is a lack of positive engagement is essentially a mystery to me, especially as the then Judicial Complaints Reviewer, Ms Moi Ali, supported the petition both in correspondence and in excellent oral evidence to the Public Petitions Committee.

We already know, because it has been reported widely, that arrangements to publish details of the shareholdings of those on the Scottish Court Service board are in place, and I welcome the information that was discussed earlier relating to recusal by sheriffs and judges in cases on which they have decided that they cannot sit in judgment.

Lord Justice Neuberger, president of the UK Supreme Court, said in a speech on 26 August 2014 to the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club:

“The rule of law also requires the honest, fair, efficient and open dispensation of justice. And therefore there is no hope for the rule of law unless we have judges who are independent, honest, fair, and competent, and who are seen to be independent, honest, fair, and competent.”

Clearly, we must ask why we cannot have a register. No doubt the associated media coverage of Lord Gill’s non-appearance at the Public Petitions Committee has led to him being given the title of Lord No-No. That is not something that I particularly welcome, although, quite frankly, it seems to have a degree of merit for an individual who spent six days in Qatar to give a speech about transparency and judicial regulation that lasted one hour, but who could not find the courtesy to accept an invitation from a mandatory committee of this Parliament.

I welcome the opportunity to raise awareness of the petition and of the petitioner’s work in relation to it, which could be dismissed by some unkind types as a boring constitutional matter. However, as others have said in today’s debate, linking it to registers of interest in other areas clearly highlights the work that the Parliament must do to ensure that everyone, no matter who the public are dealing with, is held in high regard. A register of interests for judges is an area in which we could move forward and build more confidence in the system that we have in place.

In the final paragraph of the speech that Lord Gill gave in Qatar, he said:

“One drawback of a jurisdiction steeped in tradition is its slow reaction to change and to modernise.”

Lord Gill should reread his own words and reflect on that speech, and maybe he could give the same speech in Scotland and bring the judicial system up to a standard that we would all like it to hold.

The petition clearly highlights the work of the Public Petitions Committee, and I look forward to more challenging petitions being heard by the committee and debated in the chamber.

16:30  

Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
John Wilson

Will the member take an intervention?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
John Wilson (Central Scotland) (Ind)

I draw attention to my entry in the register of members’ interests. I need to express my disappointment that North Lanarkshire Council could not send a representative along to speak to the written submission that it made. It will become clear later in the meeting why I am expressing my disappointment in that way.

Is Scottish Water involved in any community planning partnerships or any sub-groups or working groups of community planning partnerships?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
John Wilson

The reason I ask is that Scottish Water is, as far as I am concerned, crucial, particularly to some of the economic development work that is being done throughout Scotland. It is unfortunate that Scottish Water is not involved in many more community planning partnerships.

However, the question for Ms Proctor and Mr Hosie is whether you see community planning partnerships having an increased role in ensuring that we get greater community empowerment. Should CPPs be assisting communities to identify where community asset transfers should take place, where appropriate? The CPP has an overarching role that brings together a number of different bodies. Do you think that it is the appropriate body to assist communities to take forward community asset transfers, where appropriate?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
John Wilson

An issue that is coming out in the bill involves the right of communities to make an asset transfer request. The bill says that the organisations that currently own the assets or the land have to have “reasonable grounds” not to accept that request. What would be seen as reasonable, from the point of view of members of the panel, with regard to refusing an asset transfer to communities?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
John Wilson

Good morning. My first question is for Ms Gillespie, although it is open to the rest of the panel to answer. You gave two local authority examples of what you considered to be good practice in community engagement. Will you give or hint at some of the areas where there is less than good practice?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
John Wilson

Mr Glover mentioned the public interest test, which is important in the context of community applications for asset transfer. Who should apply the public interest test? Mr Glover referred to land that has been set aside or banked by a housing developer or large retail supermarket. Who is the final arbiter of whether it is in the public interest to transfer such an asset to the community or retain the right of the housing developer or other entity to bank the land?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
John Wilson

May I turn the question round, then? If a local authority has decided that land that it owns would be better used for a private housing development, who should decide what is in the public interest?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
John Wilson

Good afternoon, panel. I am an elected member and have been the chair of Glenboig neighbourhood house for a couple of years, so I am not included in the elected members who Teresa Aitken refers to. She is referring to our local councillors, who we tend to involve if we are having particular problems.

Having made that declaration, I have a question for the panel. Having read the bill, would you add anything to it? Would you like to see anything strengthened in the bill to make it easier for communities to take forward what is proposed in the bill?



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
John Wilson

We heard evidence earlier from Barnardo’s and other organisations. Barnardo’s indicated in its written submission that the community planning partnerships should set aside 1 per cent of the overall CPP budget for community engagement. Are there enough resources to allow communities to participate fully in the decision-making processes that they want to be engaged in? With the exception of Alice Bovill and Yvonne Tosh, who seem to be quite steadfast in their engagement—they might want to comment, too—do the panel members think that there are enough resources to allow them to participate fully? I am not talking about participating on the edges, but about participating fully in the issues that you want to participate in and in the decision-making structures that are out there making decisions for communities.

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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AbstainCarried

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

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
>> Show more
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 John Wilson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11247: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11246: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11245: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11213: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 15/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11208: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 14/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11105: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11009: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10986: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10932: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10462: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by John Wilson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03629: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 22/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22678: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22677: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22675: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22674: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22672: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Independent, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22440: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22438: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22439: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02270: John Wilson, Central Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Question >>

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