Meeting of the Parliament
Meeting date: Thursday, January 26, 2023
Official Report 1149KB pdf
Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Holocaust Memorial Day 2023, Portfolio Question Time, Strategic Transport Projects Review 2, Budget 2023-24 (Committees’ Pre-budget Scrutiny), Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (Appointment), Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time
- General Question Time
- First Minister’s Question Time
- Holocaust Memorial Day 2023
- Portfolio Question Time
- Strategic Transport Projects Review 2
- Budget 2023-24 (Committees’ Pre-budget Scrutiny)
- Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (Appointment)
- Parliamentary Bureau Motion
- Decision Time
Parliamentary Bureau Motion
The next item of business is consideration of Parliamentary Bureau motion S6M-07666, on suspension of standing orders. I ask George Adam, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, to move the motion.
That the Parliament agrees that Rule 15.2.1 of Standing Orders be suspended on 1 February 2023.—[George Adam]17:15
I rise to oppose the suspension of standing order rule 15.2.1 and the proposal to close the public gallery on Wednesday 1 February 2023.
The founding principles of this Parliament are openness, accountability, the sharing of power and equal opportunities. Those were agreed as a way to establish this body as answerable to the people of Scotland. By excluding the public from this Parliament’s meetings, we are in direct contradiction of those principles and therefore we should reject the motion.
I accept, like everyone here, that it was necessary to do that during the Covid pandemic for serious and understandable health reasons, but we should not casually cast aside those principles of openness and accountability whenever it is inconvenient, especially when there are viable alternatives, as our colleagues in the Welsh Senedd have shown.
If it is not safe on one day for the public to attend and to be in the public gallery because of industrial action, we should not be meeting at all and the business can easily be allocated to other days. Regardless of people’s views on industrial action, surely we can all agree as parliamentarians and as democrats, accountable to the people, that this measure to close the public gallery is wrong.
More than that, we are in danger of embarking on a slippery slope to shut the people out of this Parliament when it is deemed inconvenient to let them in. We are all temporary custodians of this institution and we have a duty and responsibility to uphold its founding principles. I therefore speak against the motion and urge members to reject it.17:17
I stand by what was said earlier, and I move the proposal that is before us.
Thank you. The question on the motion will be put at decision time.
Air adhartDecision Time