Business Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament am ar 18 Mehefin 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

The next item of business is consideration of business motion S6M-13692, in the name of Jamie Hepburn, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, on changes to the business programme.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees to the following revisions to the programme of business for—

(a) Tuesday 18 June 2024—

delete

8.00 pm Decision Time

followed by Members’ Business

and insert

7.30 pm Decision Time

(b) Wednesday 19 June 2024—

delete

followed by Stage 3 Debate: Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill

delete

6.00 pm Decision Time

and insert

5.00 pm Decision Time—[Jamie Hepburn.]

Photo of Meghan Gallacher Meghan Gallacher Ceidwadwyr 2:03, 18 Mehefin 2024

On 8 May this year, the Scottish Conservatives held a debate on gender identity services for children and young people and the Cass review. Every party except the Scottish Greens voted for an update from the Scottish Government on the Cass review before summer recess. The Scottish Conservatives voted in good faith that the matter would be taken seriously, so as to support vulnerable children and young people experiencing gender distress in Scotland, yet here we are, with only six sitting days to go, and there has been no update from the Scottish Government.

I give the kindly reminder that I requested a ministerial statement, which has yet again been refused by the Scottish National Party. This time, the excuse was purdah rules. That makes no sense whatsoever.

An update on the Cass review was promised before the general election was called, and we have heard nothing from the Scottish Government since. The matter of national health service services for children who are experiencing gender distress is, of course, devolved to Scotland. At no point has the minister approached the Opposition to advise us why the update would not take place before summer recess.

Children, young people and families do not have the time to wait. Child and adolescent mental health services waiting lists are through the roof, young people with gender distress are waiting years for an appointment, and there are currently no measures in place to ensure that children who receive support at gender clinics are receiving the right care and psychological support. That simply is not good enough.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Llafur

Is it not correct that the motion that the Parliament agreed to also requested a timeline for getting at the great delay in support that our young people are facing? In addition, the motion sought the publication of documents. Neither of those issues can be affected by the purdah rules, because they sit with the Scottish Government.

Photo of Meghan Gallacher Meghan Gallacher Ceidwadwyr

Martin Whitfield is absolutely spot on. This is about getting the right care and support for young people.

The parties that voted with the Scottish Government on the issue back on 8 May did so in good faith. Since that debate, I have held an event in the Parliament with families who have been impacted by gender clinics in Scotland. Their testimonies are heartbreaking, and they deserve to know what the Government will do to support them.

All the while, we have heard rumblings from media reports that a new NHS child gender service will be set up in Scotland. However, that does not appear to be a balanced approach. That is why we need an update in Parliament. Young people, children, families and parents need to know what is going on and what the next steps will be. They need to know how the Scottish Government will address the serious concerns that are being raised and how it will reassure everyone that it will take a scientific and evidence-based approach.

I understand that some items cannot be discussed because of the on-going election; I am certain that all MSPs understand that. However, it is imperative for the Scottish Government to share with members what correspondence the Minister for Parliamentary Business has had with the relevant portfolio holders and to explain on the record why an update cannot be given to the Parliament. Otherwise, the update that Parliament voted for and which families have been calling for will be yet another broken promise of the Scottish National Party Government.

I move amendment S6M-13692.1, to insert at end:

“(c) Thursday 20 June 2024—

after

followed by Stage 3 Proceedings: Gender Representation on Public Boards (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

insert

followed by Ministerial Statement: Applying the Cass Review Recommendations to Scotland

delete

4.25 pm Decision Time

and insert

4.55 pm Decision Time”.

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party 2:07, 18 Mehefin 2024

Presiding Officer, as I set out in writing to you and other party business managers yesterday, I do not intend to schedule a ministerial statement on the applicability of the Cass review recommendations for NHS Scotland this week. In line with the request that Ms Gallacher has just made, I am more than happy to make that letter public with the agreement of other business managers; I have no problem in doing so.

The work of the multidisciplinary team on the recommendations of the Cass review in the context of services in Scotland has not yet concluded. I am able to update Parliament that ministers are informed that activity is well advanced, and the multidisciplinary team is expected to provide a draft report to the chief medical officer shortly. Ministers have not yet had sight of the work that has been done and cannot therefore comment on its findings at this time. I made that point in the letter that I referred to, and I think that any reasonable person would surely recognise that that means that no meaningful update can be provided by ministers at this time.

Photo of Meghan Gallacher Meghan Gallacher Ceidwadwyr

Why, then, did the Government promise that an update would be provided before summer recess? If the Government makes that promise, it cannot go back on its word.

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I was about to come to that point. The commitment was made in good faith, but it was made before the United Kingdom election was called. I heard the points made by Ms Gallacher and Mr Whitfield that that has nothing to do with the Scottish Government’s ability to provide a statement to Parliament. I have, however, just made the point that, as a consequence of the period that we are now in, the report that is coming to ministers to enable us to provide an update is delayed.

In line with that, the chief medical officer’s ability to update Parliament has also been affected. He had been due to speak to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee to provide details of the activity of the multidisciplinary team, again in line with the commitment that had previously been given to update the Parliament before recess. However, that had to be carefully considered against the published pre-election guidance from the permanent secretary. That guidance has already had an impact on other activity that the Government had committed to do in advance of recess. We had said that we would bring forward a programme for government, too; we are no longer able to do that, but I see that Ms Gallacher is not trying to compel the Scottish Government to do that at this stage.

As the Cass review has been the subject of debate during the pre-election period in recent weeks, it is regrettable that, in line with the guidance, the chief medical officer has had to write to postpone his appearance before the committee. Crucially, he wrote to inform the committee of that before the request for a statement was made. Again, the Parliament was fully apprised of the context in which we are operating.

Photo of Brian Whittle Brian Whittle Ceidwadwyr

In the minister’s attempt to create an excuse for not bringing forward a statement, he is comparing apples with oranges. The Cass review has got nothing to do with the election, and he promised that there would be a statement before recess. There is no reason for this whatsoever. The minister is comparing apples with oranges and trying to weave his way out of this.

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I am afraid that I have to urge Mr Whittle to look at the letter from the chief medical officer to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee. The point that I have just made is one that the chief medical officer has made; as a consequence of the issue being tied up with the election debate, he and the Government are concerned that it could impact on the election.

This is unusual. Normally, we would be decried if we sought to go against guidance from the permanent secretary on what we could or could not say before an election. We are trying to operate in compliance with the guidance, which I imagine that Mr Whittle, Ms Gallacher and other members would expect us to do.

Given that ministers are reliant on information from the multidisciplinary team and the chief medical officer, and given that we do not have that information, it is simply not possible to provide any meaningful form of statement to the Parliament this side of recess. However, we have made a commitment to a statement, and I am happy for us to bring the matter back to the chamber as soon as possible. I made that point in my letter to Meghan Gallacher and other business managers yesterday. I am happy to return to the issue at the earliest possible opportunity, and I propose to do that once we are back from recess.

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

The question is, that amendment S6M-13692.1, in the name of Meghan Gallacher, which seeks to amend motion S6M-13692, in the name of Jamie Hepburn, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, on changes to the business programme, be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members::

No.

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

There will be a division.

There will be a short suspension to allow members to access the digital voting system.

Meeting suspended.

On resuming—

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

We come to the vote on amendment S6M-13692.1, in the name of Meghan Gallacher. Members should cast their votes now. [ Interruption .] The vote is still running. I will call you for a point of order—[ Interruption. ]

Bear with me, Ms Haughey. I am just checking. Are you receiving advice that we are voting on amendment S6M-13692.1?

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

Bear with me, Ms Haughey.

We will pause the vote for a moment—we are going to stop this vote. We will run the vote again in a moment.

Thank you, colleagues. The question is, that amendment S6M-13692.1, in the name of Meghan Gallacher, which seeks to amend motion S6M-13692, in the name of Jamie Hepburn, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, on changes to the business programme, be agreed to. Members should cast their votes now.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Apologies—I could not connect to the system. I would have voted no.

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

Thank you, Mr Gray. I will make sure that your vote is recorded.

Rhif adran 1 Business Motion

Ie: 51 MSPs

Na: 64 MSPs

Ie: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Na: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green 2:17, 18 Mehefin 2024

The result of the division on amendment S6M-13692.1, in the name of Meghan Gallacher, is: For 51, Against 64, Abstentions 0.

Amendment disagreed to.

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

The next question is, that motion S6M-13692, in the name of Jamie Hepburn, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, on changes to the business programme, be agreed to.

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees to the following revisions to the programme of business for—

(a) Tuesday 18 June 2024—

delete

8.00 pm Decision Time

followed by Members’ Business

and insert

7.30 pm Decision Time

(b) Wednesday 19 June 2024—

delete

followed by Stage 3 Debate: Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill

delete

6.00 pm Decision Time

and insert

5.00 pm Decision Time