12 March Vol. 2, No 60 Session 3

Note: (DT) signifies a decision taken at Decision Time.

The meeting opened at 9.15 am.

1. Aberdeen Crossrail: Alison McInnes moved S3M-3674—That the Parliament affirms its support for the Aberdeen Crossrail project, a vital infrastructure link for the region, which would provide a frequent cross-city rail service with commuter trains leaving Inverurie and Stonehaven for Aberdeen every 15 minutes and the opening of new stations north and south of Aberdeen including at Kintore, Newtonhill and Altens; notes that the project previously enjoyed cross-party support and was hailed as a key transport priority for the north east with the potential to bring significant economic and environmental benefits; deeply regrets that the project has been omitted from the Strategic Transport Projects Review, and calls on the Scottish Government to make a firm commitment to work with Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City councils through NESTRANS and its rail industry partners to restart the active development of the Aberdeen Crossrail project immediately.

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson) moved amendment S3M-3674.3 to motion S3M-3674—

leave out from “which would” to end and insert—

“which is being tackled incrementally by the introduction of new services from Inverurie, the opening of Laurencekirk station, the re-timetabling of other services and the bringing forward of work on Kintore station; believes that this incremental approach delivers early and cost-effective benefits to rail services across Aberdeen; recognises that the introduction of additional stops increases journey times and can, in certain circumstances, reduce the viability of services overall; welcomes the real progress being made by the Scottish Government after years of inaction, and looks forward to further rail investment in the north as announced in the Strategic Transport Projects Review.”

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 46, Against 72, Abstentions 0).

Des McNulty moved amendment S3M-3674.1 to motion S3M-3674—

after “region” insert—

“and for the wider national transport network in Scotland”.

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 72, Against 46, Abstentions 0).

Alex Johnstone moved amendment S3M-3674.2 to motion S3M-3674—

leave out from “with commuter” to end and insert—

“; notes the comments of NESTRANS, previously chaired by Alison McInnes MSP, in its regional transport strategy, that “it is clear that improved rail services can only realistically be delivered on an incremental basis and in a way that capitalises on existing planned investment”; welcomes the recent improvements to the timetable, meaning that there is now a significantly better service north of Aberdeen than was the case when Nicol Stephen MSP and Tavish Scott MSP were ministers for transport; considers that proposals contained in the Strategic Transport Projects Review to improve services north and south of Aberdeen must be progressed as a priority as a key means of securing better crossrail services; welcomes the forthcoming opening of Laurencekirk station and considers that plans to open Kintore station should now be taken forward; further considers that local agencies should work together to build strong cases for the opening of stations at Newtonhill and Altens; notes with regret the very poor stewardship of rail projects under successive Liberal Democrat transport ministers, notably the significant cost overruns and delays that blighted the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line and the managerial paralysis at the heart of the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link, and regrets the additional investment for projects such as Aberdeen Crossrail that has been lost as a result of this mismanagement.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 62, Against 56, Abstentions 0).

After debate, the motion as amended was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 62, Against 56, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament affirms its support for the Aberdeen Crossrail project, a vital infrastructure link for the region and for the wider national transport network in Scotland, which would provide a frequent cross-city rail service; notes the comments of NESTRANS, previously chaired by Alison McInnes MSP, in its regional transport strategy, that “it is clear that improved rail services can only realistically be delivered on an incremental basis and in a way that capitalises on existing planned investment”; welcomes the recent improvements to the timetable, meaning that there is now a significantly better service north of Aberdeen than was the case when Nicol Stephen MSP and Tavish Scott MSP were ministers for transport; considers that proposals contained in the Strategic Transport Projects Review to improve services north and south of Aberdeen must be progressed as a priority as a key means of securing better crossrail services; welcomes the forthcoming opening of Laurencekirk station and considers that plans to open Kintore station should now be taken forward; further considers that local agencies should work together to build strong cases for the opening of stations at Newtonhill and Altens; notes with regret the very poor stewardship of rail projects under successive Liberal Democrat transport ministers, notably the significant cost overruns and delays that blighted the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line and the managerial paralysis at the heart of the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link, and regrets the additional investment for projects such as Aberdeen Crossrail that has been lost as a result of this mismanagement.

2. Minimum Income Guarantee for Students: Margaret Smith moved S3M-3675—That the Parliament recognises the importance of the higher and further education sector; notes the outcome of the New Horizons: responding to the challenges of the 21st century report and the need to involve key stakeholders in discussions about the funding of the university sector; believes that Scotland’s students have been let down by the SNP government’s failure to deliver on its manifesto pledge to dump student debt; notes the Supporting a Smarter Scotland consultation on student support and rejects its proposals for not adequately addressing student hardship, and calls on the Scottish Government to deliver a simplified support system, which includes a minimum income guarantee of £7,000 per annum for full-time higher education students made up from a combination of grants, loans and parental contributions.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning (Fiona Hyslop) moved amendment S3M-3675.3 to motion S3M-3675—

leave out from “believes” to end and insert—

notes the Scottish Government’s consultation on student support, Supporting a Smarter Scotland, which closes on 30 April 2009, and the proposals it outlines, including a minimum income guarantee; further notes that under the previous administration student debt doubled between 1999 and 2006; welcomes the falls in average student debt achieved as a result of the enhanced support on offer from the Scottish Government; further welcomes the restoration of the principle of free education with the abolition of the graduate endowment fee; commends the Scottish Government on the introduction of a £38 million package of grants for part-time learners, replacing loans with grants for up to 20,000 students per year; congratulates the Scottish Government on the 14.6% increase in student hardships funds over the last two years; further welcomes the additional support that has been made available for students with disabilities, and calls on the Scottish Government to respond positively to the outcome of the consultation.

After debate, the amendment was disagreed to ((DT) by division: For 46, Against 72, Abstentions 0).

Claire Baker moved amendment S3M-3675.1 to motion S3M-3675—

leave out from “its proposals” to end and insert—

“all of its proposals for not adequately addressing student hardship; expresses serious concern at reports of childcare and hardship funds being stretched to breaking point across colleges and universities in Scotland; recognises the calls of the NUS and other student representatives for a £7,000 minimum income guarantee but believes that a £7,000 minimum income for all students in Scotland is unachievable with the funds allocated for student support by the Scottish Government in this spending review period, and calls on the Scottish Government to come forward with new proposals that focus the available resources at the poorest students to genuinely address student hardship in Scotland.”

After debate, the amendment was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 56, Against 47, Abstentions 15).

After debate, the motion as amended was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 70, Against 48, Abstentions 0).

Accordingly the Parliament resolved—That the Parliament recognises the importance of the higher and further education sector; notes the outcome of the New Horizons: responding to the challenges of the 21st century report and the need to involve key stakeholders in discussions about the funding of the university sector; believes that Scotland’s students have been let down by the SNP government’s failure to deliver on its manifesto pledge to dump student debt; notes the Supporting a Smarter Scotland consultation on student support and rejects all of its proposals for not adequately addressing student hardship; expresses serious concern at reports of childcare and hardship funds being stretched to breaking point across colleges and universities in Scotland; recognises the calls of the NUS and other student representatives for a £7,000 minimum income guarantee but believes that a £7,000 minimum income for all students in Scotland is unachievable with the funds allocated for student support by the Scottish Government in this spending review period, and calls on the Scottish Government to come forward with new proposals that focus the available resources at the poorest students to genuinely address student hardship in Scotland.

3. General Question Time: Questions were answered by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.

4. First Minister’s Question Time: Questions were answered by the First Minister (Alex Salmond).

5. Themed Question Time: Questions on Europe, External Affairs and Culture, and on Education and Lifelong Learning were answered by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.

6. Health Boards (Membership and Elections) (Scotland) Bill: Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, moved S3M-3671—That the Parliament agrees that, during Stage 3 of the Health Boards (Membership and Elections) (Scotland) Bill, debate on groups of amendments shall, subject to Rule 9.8.4A, be brought to a conclusion by the time limits indicated, each time limit being calculated from when the Stage begins and excluding any periods when other business is under consideration or when a meeting of the Parliament is suspended (other than a suspension following the first division in the Stage being called) or otherwise not in progress:

Groups 1 and 2: 30 minutes
Groups 3 to 5: 1 hour
Groups 6 to 8: 1 hour 20 minutes.

The motion was agreed to.

7. Health Boards (Membership and Elections) (Scotland) Bill - Stage 3: The Bill was considered at Stage 3.

The following amendments were agreed to without division: 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11.

The following amendments were agreed to (by division)—

2         (For 61, Against 55, Abstentions 0)
4         (For 97, Against 16, Abstentions 0)

The following amendments were disagreed to (by division)—

1         (For 38, Against 77, Abstentions 1)
12        (For 54, Against 63, Abstentions 0)
3         (For 52, Against 62, Abstentions 0)

The following amendments were not moved: 13, 14, 8 and 10.

The Presiding Officer extended the time-limits in Business Motion S3M-3671 under Rule 9.8.4A (a) and (c) .

8. Health Boards (Membership and Elections) (Scotland) Bill: The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing moved S3M-3543—That the Parliament agrees that the Health Boards (Membership and Elections) (Scotland) Bill be passed.

After debate, the motion was agreed to (DT).

9. Decision Time: The Parliament took decisions on items 1, 2 and 8 as noted above.

10. Pressurised Area Status in North Lanarkshire: The Parliament debated S3M-3399 in the name of John Wilson—That the Parliament welcomes the decision by the Scottish Government to grant pressurised area status to the North Lanarkshire Council areas of Cumbernauld and Moodiesburn, which enables the council to suspend the right to buy to tenants who started their tenancies after 30 September 2002, and considers that the action by the government and council could stop the decline of housing stock lost through right to buy and ensure that the council can maintain control over existing housing stock.

The meeting closed at 5.46 pm

P E Grice
Clerk of the Parliament
12 March 2009

Appendix
(Note: this Appendix does not form part of the Minutes)

The following document was laid before the Parliament on 12 March 2009 and is not subject to any parliamentary procedure

The Local Government Finance Act 1992 (Scotland) Amendment Order 2009 (SG/2009/32)

laid under paragraph 2(3) of Schedule 12 to the Local Government Finance Act 1992

Committee Reports

The following reports were published on 12 March 2009—

Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, 3rd Report 2009 (Session 3): The Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Act 2009 (asp 1): Proposed Standing Order Rule Changes (SP Paper 230)

Justice Committee, 7th Report, 2009 (Session 3): Report on the Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Coroners and Justice Bill (LCM(S3)16.1) (SPPaper 232)

Health and Sport Committee,2nd Report, 2009 (Session 3): Subordinate Legislation (SP Paper 233)

Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 3rd Report, 2009 (Session 3): Report on the Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill (LCM(S3)19.1) (SP Paper 234)