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Meeting of the Parliament [Draft]

Meeting date: Thursday, April 18, 2024


Points of Order

Kevin Stewart (Aberdeen Central) (SNP)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Could you please rule on the misinformation that Meghan Gallacher gave in her previous point of order about gender services?

To be clear, what was announced today was not a decision of the Scottish Government. The Government has made no announcement and, therefore, there cannot have been any leak, as was alleged in the point of order. The decision was made by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which made its announcement through a press release this morning, confirming the clinical decisions that it has made.

Presiding Officer, I know that you cannot rule on the veracity of members’ contributions, but surely there should be a ruling when it comes to misinformation.

Thank you, Mr Stewart. You are correct: I cannot, generally, rule on the content of members’ contributions. Your comments are now on the record.

Meghan Gallacher (Central Scotland) (Con)

Further to my point of order this morning, Presiding Officer, in the light of your previous ruling and the new information that has been made available through the press on the Government’s announcement to pause the prescription of puberty blockers for children and young people—[Interruption.]

Let us hear Ms Gallacher.

—I seek to move a motion without notice that, under rule 17.2.1(a) of standing orders, the Parliament agrees to suspend part of rule 13.8.1 to remove the words “by 10 am” for the purposes of the meeting.

The Presiding Officer

Thank you for your point of order, Ms Gallacher. As I previously explained, I am not minded to accept a motion without notice for the purpose of questions when there has just been an opportunity for members to put questions directly to the First Minister.

However, I have noted, with regard to this particular instance, that members have previously raised questions about particular procedures. I know that the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee is looking at that matter, and it might be one that is up for review. The matter can also be raised by your business manager at our next meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau.

Pam Gosal (West Scotland) (Con)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Over the past three years, I have brought many diverse communities into the Parliament. However, a recent incident has cast a shadow over those efforts. With regard to a Tuesday evening Eid reception, attendees were intimidated and bullied into not participating. It came to light that an executive member of a Scottish National Party-affiliated group orchestrated a campaign urging others to boycott the event, citing it as a Tory Eid reception, despite parliamentary rules forbidding party-political events in the building.

That turn of events is deeply disappointing. Occasions when we celebrate Eid, Vaisakhi or Diwali should serve as opportunities to honour Scotland’s diversity and to foster connections between guests and politicians from across the political spectrum. However, this Eid reception was tainted by political undertones.

I thank those who did not give in to the peer pressure and still attended the Eid reception in the Scottish Parliament. I thank Douglas Ross and Alex Cole-Hamilton for their attendance.

I was disappointed that I had to find out first from community links that Humza Yousaf and Anas Sarwar would not be joining us, despite their confirming their attendance. It was also notable that not one SNP, Labour or Green MSP attended to celebrate Eid with the Muslim community.

I appealed to the First Minister to denounce such behaviour, but, unfortunately, no action was taken, which sent a concerning message to those who were involved in the intimidation tactics. The incident sets a troubling precedent for future events and undermines our efforts to foster inclusivity and engagement in the Scottish Parliament.

Therefore, Presiding Officer, I seek your urgent guidance on how we can uphold the integrity of the Parliament by ensuring that party politics do not interfere with the public’s engagement with the Parliament; on how we can ensure the safety of Parliament staff; and on whether the behaviour of members in relation to the Eid event means that, in future, by attending any reception that is sponsored by a member of any political party, we are, in turn, endorsing their political views.

The Presiding Officer

Thank you, Ms Gosal. That is not a matter of parliamentary procedure, so it is not one that I can rule on from the chair. However, it is obviously extremely important that all can attend events in the Parliament, which is a welcoming democratic space. I would be happy to have a discussion with the member in due course.

Douglas Lumsden (North East Scotland) (Con)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Once again, a significant announcement has been made through the press, as opposed to being delivered first to the Parliament by this devolved Government. This afternoon’s business includes a statement from the Scottish Government titled “Climate Change Committee’s Scotland Report: Next Steps”. However, last night, the BBC was already reporting what the statement will say. According to the BBC,

“The Scottish government is to ditch its flagship target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030.”

Presiding Officer, I do not know how many times the Scottish Government has bypassed your request that significant announcements be made in the chamber in the first instance. What I do know is that it is ignoring your instruction, which shows contempt. Before this afternoon’s statement, will you consider what action you can take to ensure that ministers finally respect this Parliament?

Thank you, Mr Lumsden. I have not yet seen the statement, but I am aware that there is discussion on it in the public domain. I will consider the matter before we return this afternoon.

Martin Whitfield (South Scotland) (Lab)

Further to Douglas Lumsden’s point of order, Presiding Officer, when the announcement was made in April 2022 that the census deadline would be extended, you were challenged by not being able to see what was in the Government’s statement, because it had not yet been published. Would it be within the auspices of your power to observe the Climate Change Committee statement during your recess from the chair over the next hour, so that you can make a decision about whether any or all of the statement should be heard before we move to questions this afternoon?

The Presiding Officer

Yes, indeed. Further to my response to Mr Lumsden, I repeat that I will be considering the matter fully over the next period.

There will be a short suspension before we move to a members’ business debate in the name of Pauline McNeill.

12:58 Meeting suspended.  

12:59 On resuming—