The Scottish Parliament and Parties September 2009

This is chapter 3 of the Scottish Devolution Monitoring Report September 2009, but with added references at the end. For the full reports see

Key Points

  • The Scottish Parliament was only permitted to debate the release of al-Megrahi after the decision was made.
  • Alex Salmond has again been cleared of misleading the Scottish Parliament.
  • The draft annual budget has been published. Although there are many likely flashpoints, previous experience of the budget crisis may reduce conflict this year.
  • Most of the major parties have struggled to maintain an image of unity.
  • Few motions in the Scottish Parliament have put pressure on SNP policy.
  • The Westminster expenses scandal continues to cast a shadow over Holyrood.
  • Scottish Parliament committees are not the ‘motor of a new politics’. They favour headline-grabbing short inquires over high-impact long term inquiries. One of the notable exceptions is the agenda on parliamentary scrutiny of the annual budget.
  • The number of Scottish Government bills has rise to 15, but many are short and only 6 can be traced directly and meaningfully to the SNP manifesto.

3.1 The recall of the Scottish Parliament
One of many interesting aspects of the Al Megrahi decision is that it was made with no direct reference to the wishes of the Scottish Parliament. Although the Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson did recall the Scottish Parliament for an extraordinary debate in August[1], and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was no doubt subject to the most stressful parliamentary exchange of his career, the debate took place after MacAskill made his decision. Fergusson rejected the option of the debate taking place before the decision, stating that it was ‘a matter for Scottish Ministers alone’.[2] While we should not make too much of individual cases, it does seem to reinforce the feeling that the famous dictum of ‘power sharing’ masks a rather traditional Westminster tradition in which the government governs and Parliament reacts. Indeed, given that its European and External Relations committee does not enjoy the same ‘scrutiny reserve’ afforded to the House of Commons[3], we may be tempted to conclude that the Scottish Parliament is less involved in the policymaking process than its Westminster counterpart.

3.2 Who Decides If Ministers are Telling the Truth? Part 3
Alex Salmond referred a second complaint (this time by Iain Gray) about his conduct in Parliament to the new independent advisory panel (George Reid and David Steel). The panel’s report concludes that Salmond did not mislead Parliament when he stated that 16 prisoners had absconded from Scotland’s open prison estate in 2008/9.[4] The complaint does little to dispel the notion that opposition MSPs are using any alleged inaccuracies in ministerial statements to question their integrity.[5] This is part of a wider process in which MSPs appear far happier than in the past to question the veracity of statements made by their parliamentary colleagues.[6]

3.3 Political Parties and the Annual Budget
Given the events of the last two years, few expect a smooth ride when the Scottish Government attempts to pass its third annual budget bill through the Scottish Parliament. Yet, the unexpected consequence of the spectre of the budget crisis last time could be (touch wood) that the parties become much more willing to cooperate even when this relatively tight budget presents the most potential for conflict. So far, attention has focused on the Scottish Government’s decision (in the draft budget) not to fund the £400m Glasgow Airport Rail Link, prompting the suggestion (reported much more in the Herald than the Scotsman) from Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell that it was being victimised (even though the Edinburgh equivalent has already been scrapped).[7] This now pits the SNP Government against Labour at three levels following Iain Gray’s claim that a drop in inflation has boosted the Scottish Government budget by £1bn and the UK Government’s insistence that the appearance of Scottish funding ‘cuts’ are caused by ‘frontloading’ (but not as much frontloading as the Scottish Government has requested) to boost the economy.[8] There are also some likely flashpoints regarding the cost of the National Conversation and preparation for a bill on an independence referendum, any costs borne by the Scottish Government (beyond the issue of council tax freezes) in preparation for a local income tax and the adequacy of money put aside for the building of new schools.

3.4. Political Parties and the Conference Season
This is a period in which the main parties seemed determined to shoot themselves in the foot. The SNP undermined its attempts to take the Glasgow-East by-election by struggling to elect a candidate and becoming mired in allegations about misleading campaign literature (which seems par for the course in elections) and using Scottish Government National Conversation and Cabinet meetings to drum up support. Meanwhile, the Labour Government gave the impression that it did not welcome another by-election by rejecting plans to accelerate Glasgow North-East and further delaying the prospect of Jack McConnell giving up his Scottish Parliament seat to become High Commissioner in Malawi. Attempts by Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy and Iain Gray to work together to reclaim ground from the SNP (in part in reference to nationalism and the Saltire, but also by focusing criticism on Salmond) were also overshadowed at times by the bigger issue of Gordon Brown’s popularity. Murphy has continued his attempts to equate Salmond on his level (and therefore below Gordon Brown) by challenging him to a debate, while Salmond prefers the prospect of joining the UK leaders in a TV debate before the next general election. In many ways the more interesting party conference comes from the Liberal Democrats, not only because it raised issues of the extent to which the leadership consults the Scottish leader (particularly on the ‘mansion tax’) and the prospect of Liberal Democrat support for an independence referendum (Tavish Scott maintains that the Liberal Democrats are still opposed), but also because it highlighted the party’s dilemmas when presenting a unified policy stance. In particular, Nick Clegg’s apparent suggestion that the Liberal Democrats would oppose tuition fees in principle but only abolish them when it was financially viable (which, in the eyes of many, may be never) is difficult to maintain when the policy has already been delivered in Scotland. The UK focus of the Conservative conference is in many ways the exception because David Cameron still seems the most keen to assure Scottish voters that he will govern them with respect.[9]

3.5 The New Politics of Voting[10]
Voting on parliamentary motions in this period reinforces the point that relatively few place the Scottish Government in a difficult position, many are proposed by the Scottish Government and backed by most MSPs (such as the motions in May praising NHS efforts to tackle swine flu and the ‘Cashback for the Communities’ scheme; the vote on the SNP’s waste strategy was more mixed), and many others promoted by opposition parties seek to reinforce existing Scottish Government policies and place them higher on its agenda (such as the European missing children alert system[11]). This leaves a small number of notable debates which seek to change Scottish Government policy. Yet, some of these have been significant in this period. The issue on which the SNP seems most vulnerable is education and several motions in September on compulsory education call into question its record on teacher numbers and class sizes.[12] This supplements a Labour motion in May (passed with the help of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) to switch funding from student debt to student support (by providing more loans for the poorest students and leave open the reintroduction of the graduate endowment). Perhaps the SNP’s defeat on the motion to welcome the Calman Commission[13] would have been more significant if backed by UK Labour and Conservative assurances on its implementation. The emergency debate on Al Megrahi was not linked to a motion, but then opposition parties voted in September to criticise MacAskill’s ‘mishandling’ of the case.[14]

3.6 Expenses
Although it is now much lower down the media agenda, the MP expenses scandal has still not run its course. Indeed, it seems to have provided a window of opportunity for wider constitutional reform (and perhaps a public debate on PR), which Gordon Brown has promoted alongside more focused measures regarding the transparency of MP behaviour. This may not be enough to draw attention from MPs with significant second jobs who employ family members and/ or ‘funnel’ expenses money to their local parties. As expected, although Holyrood continues to represent a potential source of policy learning,[15] the Westminster expenses scandal has prompted the Scottish Parliament to make sure that its own system is robust. A small (since the Langlands Review was only completed last year) independent review by Sir Neil McIntosh will be completed this year[16] and it may consider the practicalities of inviting MSPs to pay back any profits from the sale of their second homes.[17] The SNP is also seeking to use this window to promote political reforms as part of its National Conversation.[18] The expenses scandal has been used by opposition politicians to criticise Alex Salmond, focusing on his Westminster food expenses claims and the cost of his bid to ‘impeach’ Tony Blair (all in the context of pressure to force Salmond to resign as an MP).

3.7 Scottish Parliament Committees
The experience so far of minority government is that the Scottish Parliament committees have still not become the ‘motor of a new politics’. To some extent this could have been predicted because, although the Consultative Steering Group stressed the need for ‘power sharing’ between the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive, there was no equivalent move to share the resources (e.g. the vast majority of civil service resources are held by the Scottish Government) or the responsibility for policy initiation (with committees there to check that the Scottish Government consults with policy participants, scrutinise legislation when presented and, on rare occasions, initiate legislation when there is a perceived gap). From 1999-2007 there were additional reasons for a less-than-anticipated role for committees: the ability of the Labour/ Liberal Democrat coalition to dominate the parliamentary arithmetic in both plenary and committee undermined the ability of committees to pursue inquiries likely to be critical of existing policy, while the scale of legislation coming from the Scottish Executive undermined their ability to do anything but scrutinise government policy. Thus, the rallying cry of the committee legacy reports was for fewer government bills, to ensure that they also had time to set the agenda (although note that there were, of course, no equivalent calls for a reduction in party whipping to ensure that committees were businesslike). Yet, the reduction in legislation (in both numbers of bills and numbers of sections within them) and a consequent rise in free committee time has not produced the predicted results. The high-impact agenda setting inquiry is still a rare beast in the Scottish Parliament. Instead, opposition MSPs have focused on headline-grabbing, short term inquiries. There is also limited evidence to suggest that businesslike committees are making a difference to Scottish Government bills (the climate change bill may be the only exception so far). Instead, we find more examples of convenors using their casting votes along party lines rather than the once revered status quo, coupled with more examples of committee votes being overturned in plenary when the parliamentary arithmetic changes.

As previous monitors have noted, the best bet for committees is to focus on valence issues that brook no realistic disagreement and/ or issues that do not involve poring over former Scottish Executive policies or set out to criticise existing Scottish Government policy. While this does not leave much room to manoeuvre (and the issues may be complicated further by the party affiliations of individual convenors – e.g. Finance is SNP-led while Audit is Labour-led), there are some useful examples of reports not subject to division in this period. Perhaps most impressive is the report by Health and Sport which criticises the lack of sufficient implementation of widely-agreed policies on child and adolescent mental health services. In other words, this represents an attempt to raise the Scottish Government’s (and the Scottish Executive’s before it) own policy higher on its own agenda (in part by highlighting the most newsworthy problems).[19] Local Government and Communities urges the Scottish Government (as Finance did to the former Scottish Executive) to take a more active role in any local authority attempts to coordinate their responses to Single Status (an agreement between local authorities and trade unions to harmonise the pay and conditions of male and female workers). European and External Relations identifies the problem of EU structural funds during a recession (they rely on matched funding from the private and public sectors which may be less forthcoming) and (among other things) explores the scope to learn from Welsh Assembly Government initiatives (this was also backed by a parliamentary motion in May)[20]. Finance (Strategic Budget Scrutiny) considers the adverse effect of recession on future public spending and recommends that subject committees begin to consider how cuts can be made in their areas. Public Audit provides a report which is highly critical of the way that Transport Scotland’s chief executive (and permanent Secretary John Elvidge) dealt with the fact that Transport Scotland’s director of Finance and Corporate Services held shares in FirstGroup, the company negotiating with the Scottish Government to extend its rail franchise in Scotland. It has also requested that the Auditor General for Scotland examines the figures given to the committee regarding likely passenger numbers.[21] Rural Affairs and Environment also considers how best to support the pig industry in Scotland and ensure that more, affordable, housing is built in rural parts of Scotland (for example, though planning reforms) and that councils are given further powers to maintain stocks of social housing. There are also reports that do not betray much disagreement. For example, while Finance’s main bone of contention is whether or not the Scottish Government’s means of negotiating public sector pay with unions should be formalised (the Scottish Government position is that this relationship should be between employee and employer (e.g. the local authorities)), it agrees that a reform of the public sector ‘bonus culture’ should be reformed.[22] This seems less contentious than Economy, Energy and Tourism’s internal disagreement over the need for new nuclear power stations to form part of Scotland’s energy future. It is therefore all the more impressive that the EET produced such an extensive vision, based on a 12-month inquiry.

There have also been notable attempts by the Parliament to examine how it operates. For example, Public Petitions makes a range of recommendations (to itself) to make sure that the process is more widely known within Scotland, and has a good stab at listing the petitions it thinks have made a difference (see also the developing agenda on knife crime on the back of a petition[23]). Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments recommends a series of new standing orders to deal with forthcoming Scottish Government ‘Hybrid Bills’ (public bills which affect private interests – such as the likely Forth Crossing Bill). Most importantly, Finance examined the way that the budget process operates, as part of a broader review by the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee initiated in plenary in November 2007 (i.e. quickly following the establishment of minority government but before the problems that arose since). It suggests that, although the process compares favourably with budget processes in other countries (and Westminster in particular), it requires some revisions. In particular, while it recognises the basis for stage 1 discussion (to initiate a strategic overview of the budget by expert subject committees who feed into a finance committee report) it suggests that the process does not work effectively. Therefore, there should be a ‘new budget strategy phase’ to identify the government’s aims and priorities and assess the extent to which they have been met. Further, this should be undertaken primarily by the finance committee, to allow more flexibility in the timing of the review and to make it easier to track cross-cutting themes. It also recommends that other committees should ‘mainstream’ financial considerations into their inquiries and that the Scottish Government should inform Parliament when new policy proposals would trigger significantly new spending allocations.[24] Perhaps most significantly, it recommends that significant resources should be available (for the new Financial Scrutiny Unit[25]) to let committees scrutinise budget plans more effectively. While the Scottish Parliament has always in theory had the power to make alternative budget proposals, it is only with such a resource that any significant suggestions could be reasonably made. Given that the imbalance of resources is the main reason that the Scottish Parliament cannot ‘power share’ with the Scottish Government, it will be interesting to see if this initiative makes a difference and sets a precedent for ‘beefing up’ the committee process as a whole (although note that the FSU will draw on existing SPICE staff).

3.8 Committee Reports and Inquiries (20 May 2009 – 28 September 2009)[26]

European and External Relations:
10 June 2009 1st Report 2009: The impact of the financial crisis on EU support for economic development

29 June 5th Report 2009: Report on the Review of the Budget Process (Response from the Scottish Government)
22 June 4th Report 2009: Report on Public Sector Pay (Response from the Scottish Government)
9 June 2nd Report 2009: Strategic Budget Scrutiny

Public Audit:
11 June 2009 6th Report 2009: The First ScotRail passenger rail franchise

Public Petitions:
16 June 2009 3rd Report 2009: Inquiry into the public petitions process

Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments:
16 June 2009 7th Report 2009: Hybrid Bills

Subordinate Legislation:
29 June 2009 37th Report 2009: Report of Scottish Statutory Instruments laid in 2008

Economy, Energy and Tourism:
30 June 2009 7th Report 2009: Determining and delivering on Scotland’s energy future

Health and Sport
22 June 2009 7th Report 2009: Inquiry into child and adolescent mental health and well-being

Local Government and Communities:
10 June 2009 12th Report 2009: Equal Pay in Local Government

Rural Affairs and Environment:
25 June 2009 10th Report 2009: The Pig Industry ( Government response )
7 May 2009: 5th Report 2009: Rural Housing (Government response)

3.9 Parliamentary Bills (20 May 2009 – 28 September 2009)
Following a relatively significant flurry of legislative activity, the SNP is more difficult to describe as ‘work-shy’. Since anything more than 50 bills in four years is considered excessive by Scottish Parliament committees (assuming that many are fairly complex and require significant scrutiny), particularly since many of the former Scottish Executive’s policies did not require legislation, then 15 in just over two years may be approaching a respectable number under minority conditions. Yet, theses numbers may be misleading for at least two reasons. First, they may be relatively simple bills with few sections. Second, they may not be bills likely to set the heather on fire. For example, two were budget bills, four – preparing for the commonwealth games, reforming the judiciary and courts, reforming public health law, revising the law on sexual offences – were inherited, and three – on asbestos-related compensation (which arose unexpectedly following a House of Lords ruling), convention rights (following a Lords ruling on slopping out), decoupling local and Scottish Parliament elections – arose unexpectedly in the course of the Parliament. This leaves six bills – abolishing bridge tolls and the graduate endowment, introducing health board elections, addressing climate change, addressing additional support needs in education, updating flood prevention legislation – that can be traced directly and meaningfully to the SNP manifesto.

Scottish Government Bills Passed:
Climate Change (Scotland) Bill – to set long term (2050) and annual targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases and confer powers on Scottish Ministers to help meet them (e.g. to impose duties on public authorities). Following some negotiation with the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government brought forward its interim target from 2030 to 2020 and increased the proposed reduction in emissions from 34% to 42%.[27]
Convention Rights Proceedings (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill – an emergency bill (stages 1 to 3 taken on the same day) to ensure that claims for compensation related to the Human Rights Act 1998 (consistent with the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights) can only be made within one year of the relevant breach of the Act. It was introduced to address compensation claims in Scotland made by prisoners made to ‘slop out’ (see previous monitors).
Education (Additional Support for Learning) Bill – to amend the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 to reform the process in which parents of children with additional support needs make requests to place children in schools outwith their local authority area (and any subsequent appeals to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal if a request is refused).
Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill – to reform flood management by assigning greater responsibility to SEPA, requiring SEPA to produce flood risk assessments and management plans, and transpose the EU Floods Directive.
Scottish Local Government (Elections) Bill – to decouple local and Scottish Parliament elections following the spoiled ballot paper debacle in 2007 and subsequent Gould investigation.[28]
Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill – to consolidate and clarify the law on sexual offences, largely in line with the Scottish Law Commission report (commissioned by the Scottish Executive in 2004, in part to address Scotland’s low conviction rates for rape offences). Particular attention is given to the boundary between rape and sexual assault, sexual offences against children, sexual offences committed by young children (and in which venue they should be prosecuted) and consensual sexual activity between older children.

Scottish Government Bills in Progress:
Arbitration (Scotland) Bill
Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill
Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Bill
Marine (Scotland) Bill
Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill
Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Bill
Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill

Members’ Bill Passed:
Offences (Aggravation By Prejudice) (Scotland) Bill (Patrick Harvie, Green, supported by the Scottish Government) – to extend existing provision for aggravated offences (racial or religious prejudice is already covered) to a victim’s actual or presumed sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.[29]

Members’ Bills in Progress[30]
Control of Dogs (Scotland) Bill

3.10 Sewel (Legislative Consent) Motions passed (20 May 2009 – 25 September 2009)[31]

None passed.


3.2 Who Decides If Ministers are Telling the Truth? Part 3
J. Quinn 2.6.09 ‘SNP ‘did not break rules’’ The Scotsman
2.6.09 ‘Labour leader’s complaint sent to former Holyrood grandees’ The Herald
2.6.09 ‘Lord Steele and George Reid to investigate prison escape complaints’ The Times
BBC 1.6.09 ‘Inquiry into missing prisoner row’ BBC
M. Settle 2.6.09 ‘Labour leader’s complaint sent to former Holyrood grandees’ The Herald
2.6.09 ‘Lord Steele and George Reid to investigate prison escape complaints’ The Times
5.8.09 ‘Salmond cleared in prison escapes row’ The Scotsman
R. Dinwoodie 6.8.09 ‘Salmond ‘did not mislead Holyrood’ over jail abscondees’ The Herald

3.3 Political Parties and the Annual Budget
B. Currie 26.6.09 ‘Swinney announces £31m budget savings’ The Herald
21.7.09 ‘Sturgeon warns of budget cuts’ The Herald
24.7.09 ‘SNP attacks Labour’s ‘savage’ cuts’ The Herald
B. Currie R. Dinwoodie D. Henderson G. Braiden 17.9.09 ‘Outrage as Swinney swings his budget axe on Glasgow’ The Herald
17.9.09 ‘Swinney’s budget’ The Herald
D. Henderson 17.9.09 ‘Rail link project sacrificed in struggle to make ends meet’ The herald
R. Dinwoodie 17.9.09 ‘Robbie Dinwoodie: “Rail link will become the political battleground”’ The Herald
17.9.09 ‘Scottish Budget sparks ‘dodgy accounting’ row’ The Herald
R. Dinwoodie 17.9.09 ‘Scottish budget: the main points’ The Herald
17.9.09 ‘Scottish Budget: reaction in full’ he Herald
B. Currie 17.9.09 ‘Council chief attacks SNP over funding favouritism’ The Herald
G. Braiden 18.9.09 ‘SNP need a miracle to avoid a repeat next year’The Herald
A. Macleod 16.9.09 ‘Salmond and Brown clash over Scottish funds’ The Times (IGR budget)
17.9.09 ‘Draft Budget – what it means for education and skills’ Scottish Government News Release
17.9.09 ‘Draft Budget – what it means for health and housing’ Scottish Government News Release
17.9.09 ‘Draft Budget – what it means for rural affairs and environment’ Scottish Government News Release
17.9.09 ‘Draft Budget – what it means for the arts’ Scottish Government News Release
17.9.09 ‘Draft Budget – what it means for the justice service’ Scottish Government News Release
17.9.09 ‘Draft Scottish Budget 2010-2011’ Scottish Government News Release
G. Braiden 25.9.09 ‘Cash crisis city sets sights on services’ he Herald
R. Dinwoodie 25.9.09 ‘Purcell: Salmond has let my city down’ The Herald
G. Braiden 25.9.09 ‘How Glasgow plans to meet the challenge of big squeeze on its budget’ The Herald
D. Maddox 15.9.09 ‘£500m cuts to target health and councils’ The Scotsman
T. Peterkin 13.9.09 ‘Swinney signals public sector cuts’ The Scotsman
A. Macleod 14.9.09’ Swinney ‘confident’ over council tax freeze’ The Times
J. Allardyce 13.9.09 ‘Budget threat to SNP poll spending’ The Times
16.9.09 ‘All parties now agree savings are needed – but just where is the question’ The Scotsman
A. Macleod 18.9.09 ‘Swinney ushers in new age of austerity’ The Times
P. Jones 18.9.09 ‘Council cuts are SNP’s Achilles’ heel’ The Times
L. Davidson 20.9.09 ‘Swinney appeals for unity over Westminster cash’ The Times
J. Allardyce 20.9.09 ‘Scottish civil service faces £6m cuts’ The Times
S. Macnab 25.9.09 ‘First Minister ‘tells head of Glasgow City Council to grow up’’ The Scotsman—

3.4. Political Parties and the Conference Season
25.6.09 ‘SNP favourite withdraws from nomination race’ The Herald
D. Maddox 9.7.09 ‘SNP defends choice of candidate’ The Scotsman
L. Davidson 12.7.09 ‘SNP Glasgow North East by-election candidate stands down’ The Times
A. Macleod 8.7.09 ‘SNP activists reject ‘official’ candidate’ The Times
D. Maddox 17.7.09 ‘’Stitch-up’ as SNP’s fourth choice to fight by-election’ The Scotsman

T. Peterkin 7.8.09 ‘SNP denies electioneering at taxpayers’ expense’ The Scotsman
A. Macleod 6.8.09 ‘Salmond accused of using public funds to campaign’ The Times
10.8.09 ‘SNP accused of using civil servants for party gain’ The Scotsman
D. Maddox 24.8.09 ‘SNP accused of using false data in by-election’ The Scotsman
B. Currie 4.7.09 ‘Apology demanded as SNP leaflets stray into Labour territory’ The Herald

S. Macnab 28.7.09 ‘Speaker’s old seat without an MP ‘for a record time’’ The Scotsman
G. Peev 22.7.09 ‘Labour stops bid to speed up poll for ex-Speaker’s constituency’ The Scotsman
M. Settle 23.7.09 ‘Labour’s by-election stand called ‘unacceptable’’ The Herald
22.7.09 ‘PM defends delay of Glasgow North East by-election’ The Scotsman
1.7.09 ‘Labour is accused of running scared over delay in by-election’ The Scotsman
T. Crichton 22.7.09 ‘SNP fails to bring vote in Glasgow forward’ The Herald
B. Currie 31.8.09 ‘McConnell’s Malawi posting put on hold’ The Herald

22.9.09 ‘Murphy in debate challenge’ The Scotsman
A. Macleod 22.9.09 ‘Slugger Salmond ducks out of political debate with Mauler Murphy’ The Times
A. Macleod 28.9.09 ‘SNP denies Labour call for constitutional debate’ The Times
E. Barnes 2.8.09 ‘Salmond seeks slot in TV debate for next election’ The Scotsman

G. Peev 22.9.09 ‘Mansion tax plan could lose Scotland £110m’ The Scotsman
A. Macleod 22.9.09 ‘Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott ‘makes three U-turns in one speech’’ The Times

S. Johnson 28.9.09 ‘Jim Murphy and Iain Gray launch twin attack on ‘superficial’ SNP and Tories’ The Telegraph
A. Macleod 21.9.09 ‘The unsurprising verdict on Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray’ The Times

L. Davidson 14.7.09 ‘Salmond the quarry in Labour’s new strategy’ The Times
L. Davidson 14.7.09 ‘Strengths can also be fatal weakness’ The Times

D. Maddox 29.6.09 ‘Patriotism ‘belongs to all’’ The Scotsman
29.6.09 ‘Murphy: Labour allowed SNP to ‘monopolise’ saltire symbol’ The Scotsman
L. Davidson 30.6.09 ‘Jim Murphy admits Labour allowed SNP to monopolise saltire’ he Times

E. Barnes 31.7.09 ‘SNP’s income doubles to £1.8m as the cash flows in’ The Scotsman
R. Dinwoodie 31.7.09 ‘Donations to Scottish Labour fell by 90% in just one year’ The Herald
J. Tapfield 23.7.09 ‘Labour’s election hopes boosted by £4.6m tax rebate’ The Scotsman

M. Settle 17.7.09 ‘Poll: Tory candidates ‘not uncomfortable’ with independence’ The Herald
R. Lydall ‘Cameron’s plans to cut number of MPs could backfire for Scottish Tories’ The Scotsman–
J. Quinn 27.6.09 ‘Cameron concedes Tories were wrong to oppose devolution’ The Scotsman–
A. Pierce 1.7.09 ‘David Cameron says sorry over Section 28 gay law’ The Telegarph
J. Quinn 19.8.09 ‘’Hypocrisy’ charge as Tory MSP stands for Westminster’ The Scotsman

1.6.09 ‘LibDem councillor sacked over Trump resort joins Greens’ The Herald

8.6.09 ‘We’re on to a big winner for next time, say Nats’ The Scotsman
R. Dinwoodie 9.6.09 ‘Vote on independence would be close, say polls’ The Herald
A. Macleod 8.6.09 ‘Salmond’s SNP manages to defy political gravity’ The Times
16.6.09 ‘Holyrood poll shows growing support for SNP’ The Scotsman
M. Linklater 26.6.09 ‘Alex Salmond enters summer recess with rivals still on defensive’ The Times
L. Moss 29.6.09 ‘Scots back tax hikes to boost NHS during economic downturn’ The Scotsman
S. Johnson 28.6.09 ‘Most Scots unimpressed by first decade of devolution, poll finds ‘ The Telegraph
B. Taylor 29.6.09 ‘Scotland ‘now has stronger voice’ BBC News
28.6.09 ‘Devolution backed by 41% of Scots’ BBC News
D. Maddox 1.7.09 ‘Pressure on parties to drop opposition as most Scots back independence vote ‘ The Scotsman–
30.6.09 ‘Salmond ‘more popular’ than Brown’ BBC News
S. Johnson 1.7.09 ‘More than two-thirds of Scots say devolution has achieved little’ The Telegraph
M. Settle 20.7.09 ‘Commons should adopt PR, say Scots voters’ The Herald
M. Reid 28.7.09 ‘Third of Scots unhappy with NHS, says survey’ The Times
J. Curtice 3.8.09 ‘Nats set for best result in 35 years – but little to show for it’ The Scotsman
E. Barnes 3.8.09 ‘Labour clings to slim advantage over SNP’ The Scotsman
9.9.09 ‘Poll findings ‘put Gray’s seat in doubt’’ The Scotsman

3.6 Expenses
T. Peterkin 7.6.09 ‘New questions over Salmond food claims’ The Scotsman
T. Crichton 8.6.09 ‘’ Goldie challenges Salmond to publish appointments diary’ The Herald
E. Barnes 21.6.09 ‘Salmond rejects call to open his diaries’ The Scotsman
14.7.09 ‘Parliamentary standards watchdog to examine Alex Salmond expenses’ The Times
A. Macleod 3.6.09 ‘Tories barred from questioning Salmond over food bill’ The Times
M. Linklater 2.6.09 ‘Salmond’s vague answers will not do in the present climate’ The Times
H. Macdonell 8.6.09 ‘Salmond hits back in claims row’ The Scotsman

I. Swanson 14.7.09 ‘Salmond facing probe over his ‘impeachment’ expenses’ The Scotsman
M. Settle 14.7.09 ‘Probe into Salmond’s use of expenses in bid to impeach Blair’ The Herald
A. Macleod 19.6.09 ‘MPs’ expenses: Alex Salmond’s bid to impeach Tony Blair cost £14,100’ The Times

J. Robertson 2.8.09 ‘Salmond urged to quit as MP over his pay’ The Times
3.6.09 ‘FMQs: Salmond urged to quit Westminster seat’ The Scotsman

T. Crichton 20.6.09 ‘MPs rush to repay claims ranging from £1 to £40,000’ The Herald
S. Johnson 19.7.09 ‘MPs’ expenses: Alex Salmond claims £2,000 for a letter folding machine’ The Telegraph
J. Kirkup 4.8.09 ‘MPs expenses: Parliamentary officials get large pay rises’ The Telegraph
M. Settle 11.8.09 ‘New transparency for MPs’ interests’ The Herald
M. Settle 1.6.09 ‘Brown announces body to shake up UK constitution’ The Herald
1.6.09 ‘Brown plans MPs’ code of conduct to clean up politics’ The Scotsman
R. Dinwoodie 27.5.09 ‘Blocking expense details ‘wrong’’ The Herald
15.6.09 ‘MPs being turned into ‘drudges’ by professional politics’ The Herald
M. Settle 15.6.09 ‘Second jobs could be the catalyst for fresh outcry’ The Herald
M. Settle 17.6.09 ‘Days of MPs employing family members are numbered’ The Herald
G. Peev 22.6.09 ‘MP expenses scandal ‘appalling’ says information chief’ The Scotsman
L. Davidson 21.6.09 ‘Commissioner attacks MPs for ‘passing the blame’’ The Times
S. MacDonald 21.6.09 ‘‘Look to MSPs in war on secrecy’’ The Times
E. Barnes 21.6.09 ‘Scots MPs funnelling public cash to parties’ The Scotsman
J. Gilmour 25.6.09 ‘Electoral accountability can’t be enforced by first-past-the-post voting system’ The Scotsman
J. Swaine 10.7.09 ‘MPs forced to disclose how long they spend on second jobs ‘ The Telegraph
25.8.09 ‘MPs pressure expenses inquiry for pay rise’ The Scotsman
25.8.09 ‘MPs across parties clamour for pay rise’ The Herald
L. Davidson 29.5.09 ‘Margo MacDonald is Britain’s most frugal politician’ The Times
29.5.09 ‘£36,000 bill for Lothian’s MSPs’ The Scotsman
R. Lydall 15.6.09 ‘Devine faces Labour ‘star chamber’ and election ban’ The Scotsman
H. Macdonell 8.6.09 ‘Under-fire MP claims local party support’ The Scotsman
D. Maddox 9.7.09 ‘Lib Dem blow as candidate quits in fury at expenses scandal MPs’ The Scotsman

K. Dunion 21.6.09 ‘Kevin Dunion: Why Scottish system is more open than Westminster’s’ The Times
BBC 1.6.09 ‘Confidential data ‘not kept safe’ BBC
4.6.09 ‘Council’s hush-hush talks find no place in the public domain’ The Scotsman
28.9.09 ‘Secret government files to be opened to public’ The Scotsman
3.7.09 ‘Early release of information’ Scottish Government News Release

1.7.09 ‘Queen tells Scottish parliament to build on strong foundations’ The Scotsman
B. Currie 2.7.09 ‘MSPs of most parties snub Queen’s visit to Holyrood’ The Herald
A. macleod 2.7.09 ‘MSPs ‘snub’ Queen as dozens stay away’ The Times
C. Sweeney 1.7.09 ‘The many and various excuses came thick and fast’ The Times
1.7.09 ‘Queen tells Holyrood it must retain public confidence’ The Times
A. Cochrane 2.7.09 ‘Few join Queen in celebrating Scottish Parliament anniversary ‘ The Telegraph

A. Philip 4.8.09 ‘MSP’s party unity plea over wrongful death compensation’ The Scotsman–
4.8.09 ‘MSP seeks backing for bill on wrongful death payouts’ The Herald

[1] It has only been recalled in two other instances – following the deaths of Donald Dewar and the Queen Mother – Scottish Parliament News Release 20.8.09 ‘Presiding Officer Recalls Parliament’
[2] Scottish Parliament News Release 17.8.09 ‘Presiding Officer’s Statement On Request To Recall Parliament’;
[3] House of Commons Information Office (2008) EU Legislation and
Scrutiny Procedures
[4] Independent Advisers to the First Minister (2009) Scottish Ministerial Code Inquiry:
Complaint From Iain Gray MSP About First Minister’s Answers On Open Prison Absconds ; Scottish Government News Release 5.8.09 ‘Ministerial Code Inquiry’
[5] A. Macleod 5.8.09 ‘MSPs rapped over point scoring at First Minister’s Questions’ The Times
[6] See for example Scottish Parliament Official Report cols.18410-2 ; D. Maddox 6.8.09 ‘’Holyrood as bad as Westminster’ – Steel’ The Scotsman
[7] Similar claims on a different issue were made in 2001, culminating in Glasgow’s decision to leave COSLA – see McGarvey, February 2001: 41-2.
[8] H. Mcardle 17.9.09 ‘Purcell claims Glasgow has been snubbed in budget round’ The Herald; D. Maddox 25.9.09 ‘Inflation fall gives Scottish Government ‘£1bn budget bonus’’ The Scotsman;
24.7.09 ‘SNP attacks Labour’s ‘savage’ cuts’ The Herald
[9] See, for example, the 28th September 2009 edition of Holyrood Magazine.
[10] For a full list of motions and votes, see BBC News 24.9.09 ‘How MSPs voted in the parliament’
[11] J. Allardyce 14.6.09 ‘Rapid alerts for snatched children’ The Times
[12] Scottish Parliament Official Report 24.9.09 cols.19895-926
[13] Scottish Parliament Official Report 25.6.09 cols.18835-87
[14] Scottish Parliament Official Report 2.9.09 col.19162
[15] M.Russel 7.6.09 ‘Mike Russell: Holyrood’s miles better’ The Times; H. Macdonell 23.6.09 ‘Shamed MPs should have learned from Holyrood’ The Scotsman– Note also the evidence of Holyrood learning negative lessons when forming an agreement with the police on MSP office searches – R. Dinwoodie 26.6.09 ‘Agreement clarifies operation of Holyrood office searches’ The Herald
[16] Scottish Parliament News Release 5.6.09 ‘Independent Examination To Be Carried Out On Holyrood’s Expenses System’
[17] P. Hutcheon 8.8.09 ‘Salmond backs scheme to force MSPs to repay second home profits’ The Herald
[18] J. Allardyce 7.6.09 ‘‘Recall’ plan could see unwanted MSPs ousted’ The Times

[19] Scottish Parliament News Release 23.6.09 ‘Committee discovers disturbing evidence of under-5s with mental health issues slipping through the net’
[20] Scottish Parliament Official Report 21.5.09
[21] Scottish Parliament News Release 11.6.09 ‘Transport Scotland Criticised Over Serious Governance Failures’; Scottish Parliament News Release 24.6.09 ‘Committee Convener Requests Auditor General Probe Into Rail Franchise Passenger Figures’
[22] B. Currie 23.6.09 ‘Holyrood call for review of bonuses’ The Herald; H. Macdonell 23.6.09 ‘MSPs call for end to big public-sector bonuses’ The Scotsman
[23] R. Dinwoodie 12.8.09 ‘Labour petition on knives goes to Holyrood’ The Herald
[24] 30.6.09 ‘Report recommends Holyrood spending alert’ The Herald
[25] Scottish Parliament News Release 24.9.09 ‘Parliament Creates Financial Scrutiny Unit’
[26]Excluding most annual reports, financial memoranda, budget reports (which are brought together by the Finance Committee’s stage 2 report) and reports on subordinate legislation (which can be tracked more systematically on the committee webpage). From this edition the lists also exclude reports on legislative consent memoranda (these can be tracked more easily from the Scottish Government’s own records – and stage 1 reports on proposed legislation (these can be tracked more easily in the Scottish Parliament’s bills section – In other words, the focus of this list is on non-routine publications such as committee inquiries conducted at their discretion. For the committee issues that the Scottish Parliament chose to publicise, see
[27] K. Wright (2009) Climate Change (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, SPICe briefing, 09/43; BBC News 23.6.09 ‘Climate change targets ‘tougher’’
[28] The move is also consistent with proposals originally made in the McIntosh, Kerley and Arbuthnott Reports – see S. Herbert (2009) Scottish Local Government (Elections) Bill, SPICe briefing 09/21
[29] See G. Ross (2009) Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice0 (Scotland) Bill, SPICe briefing 04/41
[30] For a list of Members’ Bill Proposals see
[31] A full list of motions and links to SPOR discussions is provided by the Scottish Government (but note that it lists all potential motions rather than those proposed and passed)

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