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Seòmar agus comataidhean

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Thursday, January 27, 2022

Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Point of Order, Holocaust Memorial Day, Portfolio Question Time, Budget (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Adverse Childhood Experiences


Point of Order

Sandesh Gulhane (Glasgow) (Con)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. [Interruption.] I can hear groans already, because members know what is coming.

I wish to raise a point of order under section 7.6 of the “Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament” regarding the deliberate mischaracterisation of my position by Emma Harper MSP in the chamber on Tuesday 25 January. [Interruption.] There are moans because that is true.

Emma Harper accused me of upholding an assertion that was made in a newspaper article, spreading misinformation, disrespecting the convener of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee and causing targeted abuse of members.

Emma Harper spoke for three minutes and 27 seconds; I will be much briefer, as the truth is often quick and simple.

Having provided the journalist with a statement of fact regarding the Scottish National Party’s record on managing Scotland’s health service in response to a question on consideration of future healthcare pathways, I did not have sight of the article ahead of publication, so I cannot be accused of upholding its editorial position. I have no control over the article that was written after I had given comment. [Interruption.] I am glad that the Government has control over what is written in the press.

If Emma Harper actually read the words attributed to me, such as that the SNP’s “lack of forward planning” has

“resulted in key personnel shortages across the NHS, including A&E staff and GPs”,

she would conclude that that is fact, not spreading misinformation. Nowhere in the article did I disrespect the convener, and the convener has never spoken to me directly on the matter. I state that I do respect the convener.

Finally, as a member of Indian descent who was born in England and now proudly lives in Scotland, I am well aware of abuse. To accuse me of causing the targeted abuse of another member is outrageous.

There seems to be targeted misrepresenting from those on the Government benches that seeks to undermine me. Emma Harper misrepresented me just weeks after her leader did. I seek your help in securing an apology from her, Presiding Officer.

The Presiding Officer (Alison Johnstone)

I thank Dr Gulhane for advance notice of his contribution. As I said on Tuesday, in terms of the code of conduct, these are matters for the committee in the first instance. With regard to the contribution of another member, Dr Gulhane’s point is not a point of order. However, as he might be aware, a mechanism exists by which inaccurate contributions can be amended.