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Writers to the Signet Dependants' Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill

Overview

This is a Private Bill introduced by the trustees of an annuity fund. The fund is run for surviving spouses and partners of some members of the Writers to the Signet Society. Its aim is to update two of the rules of the fund in line with modern circumstances. It does this by amending an Act from 1982. 

You can find out more in the Explanatory Notes document that explains the Bill.

Why the Bill was created

One of the rules of the fund was that the person who “collects” contributions and administers the fund must also be a contributor. But the fund was already closed to new contributors and most existing contributors were over 60. This would make it more difficult to find contributors willing to take on the role. The new rule allows a non-member with relevant expertise to be elected as “collector”. 

A second rule-change updates the definition of “actuary” to reflect changes in the way the profession is organised. 

You can find out more in the Promoter's Memorandum document that explains the Bill.

Becomes an Act

The Writers to the Signet Dependants' Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill passed by a vote of 105 for, 0 against and 0 abstentions. The Bill became an Act on 18 January 2018.

Introduced

The promoter sends the Bill and related documents to the Parliament.

Writers to the Signet Dependants' Annuity Fund (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill as introduced
 

Related information from the Promoter on the Bill

Why the Bill is being proposed (Promoter's Memorandum)

Explanation of the Bill (Explanatory Notes)

Opinions on whether the Parliament has the power to make the law (Statements on Legislative Competence)

Scottish Parliament research on the Bill 

Preliminary Stage

The Committee examines the Bill. Then MSPs vote on whether it should continue to Consideration Stage.

Who examined the Bill

Each Bill is examined by a 'lead committee'. This is the committee that has the subject of the Bill in its remit.

It looks at everything to do with the Bill.

Other committees may look at certain parts of the Bill if it covers subjects they deal with.

Who spoke to the committee about the Bill

First meeting transcript

Mary Fee

Our second item is to choose a convener. The Parliament has agreed that only members of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party are eligible for nomination as convener of the committee. I am pleased to announce that Alison Harris is the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party nominee for the post. Do we agree to choose Alison Harris as our convener?

Members indicated agreement.

Alison Harris was chosen as convener.

Mary Fee

I congratulate Alison Harris on her appointment. I briefly suspend the meeting to hand over the chair for the remainder of the proceedings.

10:03 Meeting suspended.  



10:03 On resuming—  



Second meeting transcript

The Convener (Alison Harris)

Good morning and welcome to the second meeting of the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee. I remind everyone present—including members—that mobile phones must be turned off.

Today we are taking evidence from the promoters of the bill, the trustees of the writers to the signet dependants’ annuity fund. I welcome Caroline Docherty WS, the deputy keeper of the signet and chairman of the trustees, Simon A Mackintosh WS, collector for the annuity fund, and Christine O’Neill, a partner at Brodies LLP. Ms Docherty, I understand that you have a short opening statement to make on behalf of the promoters.

Caroline Docherty WS (Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund)

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to answer questions that the committee might have about the bill. I appreciate that you have received briefing information, but I thought that it would be helpful if I added some explanation about who we are and the organisation that we represent.

I am deputy keeper to the signet, which means that I am, in effect, the president of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet, which is known as the WS Society. In that capacity, I chair the board of trustees of the WS dependants’ annuity fund. Simon Mackintosh is collector—in other words, administrator—of that fund.

First, what is a writer to the signet? Originally, writers to the signet were exactly that: they were those who were able to write and were particularly trusted, who undertook work on behalf of the Crown. The first recorded use of the signet—in other words, the seal of the king—was in 1369, and in 1532, when James V established the system that we know today and the Court of Session came into being, writers to the signet were included as members of the College of Justice. Eventually, those trusted clerks became what are now solicitors, and the WS Society is the professional body for writers to the signet. We are probably the oldest professional body in the world, which is quite a distinction for a relatively small group of Scottish lawyers.

What is the relevance of that history today? With the introduction of the Law Society of Scotland in 1949, the WS Society’s regulatory role ceased. We had to develop our modern purposes, ensuring that the society has relevance that will allow us to continue into the future by being of interest to young lawyers.

I believe that we have been successful in doing that. The WS Society continues to grow. We are now a society of around 1,000 lawyers; more than 100 new writers to the signet have been welcomed in the past three years. They reflect the make-up of the solicitor profession in Scotland more generally, in terms of gender and ethnic background. The society now includes student members and affiliate members as well as writers to the signet, so it includes all ages, from law students to our most senior retired member, who is more than 100 years old.

What does the society do? We provide legal training, support in the form of library services in electronic and traditional paper formats, research and drafting services for our members and other lawyers, and charitable trust administration.

The society owns the iconic Signet Library on Parliament Square, and maintenance of that building and its historic and valuable treasures has become an important part of our purposes. In recent years, we opened up the building more generally to the public: Colonnades is an award-winning destination for afternoon tea, and we are building a series of cultural events that are open to the public—the new enlightenment project—which consists of lectures, discussions and performances.

All of that, combined with the history to which I have referred and the fact that becoming a WS still requires the taking of an oath before an officer of state—the keeper of the signet, who is currently Lord Mackay of Clashfern—makes the WS Society attractive to lawyers who are interested in what we represent and the focus on high standards in legal services that we promote through our purposes.

Having explained what writers to the signet and the WS Society are, I will speak briefly about the WS dependants’ annuity fund, which is the separate and distinct body that is the subject of the bill. Historically, the WS Society looked after writers to the signet and their widows, who might have fallen on hard times, by making ad hoc charitable donations. That was formalised in 1803 when the original WS widows’ fund was started up—all WS at that time, of course, were men—to provide benefits to the widows of deceased writers to the signet. Over the years, the fund was changed and widened to provide support for orphans and other dependants as well, and then later to take account of the fact that women were becoming writers to the signet, from 1976, and more recently to provide benefits for the civil partners of deceased contributors to the fund.

Until 1989, membership of the WS Society brought with it membership of the dependants’ annuity fund, and it was seen as one of the benefits of being a writer to the signet that you contributed to the fund. However, in 1989, in large part due to changes in the tax regime that meant that the fund would become a less attractive proposition for new members contributing to it, the fund was closed to new members. Since that date, membership of the WS Society has continued to grow, as I have explained, but those who have become WS since then are not contributors to the fund. Equally, not all the contributors remain writers to the signet; some have resigned their commission, so the two bodies are separate in that respect.

Although the society’s membership is growing, the contributors to the fund are inevitably ageing. There are now no contributors to the fund who are younger than their early 50s, and the oldest is over 100. The trustees’ aim is to ensure that the funds held by the dependants’ annuity fund are administered in such a way that annuities—annual payments—will continue to be made to the widows and widowers of the contributors to the fund, until the death of the last of them. That has to be done in a way that represents fairness between the generations, so that the last surviving widows or widowers do not receive a disproportionate payment.

I hope that that explanation has been helpful in providing some background. We are happy to answer questions.

The Convener

In addition to the 141 annuitants, how many potential annuitants are there? Do you have a rough idea?

Simon A Mackintosh WS (Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund)

There are at present 538 contributors. Most but not all of them have a surviving spouse, so there are more than 500 potential annuitants.

The Convener

How long is it estimated that the fund will pay annuities?

Simon Mackintosh

In a way, the life of the fund depends on the life of contributors, and on when the last contributor dies leaving a surviving spouse. We have some projections from actuaries that suggest that it could be well into the 2040s. When the last annuitant is identified, it is a question of how long he or she survives his or her spouse.

The Convener

What will happen to any residual moneys in the fund after all the dependants die?

Caroline Docherty

Because of the aim of the fund, the trustees will have to find a strategy that means there will be no residual moneys. The most likely end game for the fund is that, at some point in the future, a product will be bought from an insurance company using the remaining funds—to put it simplistically—to provide annuities for the remaining annuitants, to avoid what you have described.

Tom Arthur (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)

Could you expand on and unpack some of the reasons for the decision to close the fund to new contributors in 1989?

Simon Mackintosh

None of us was directly involved at that point.

Tom Arthur

I appreciate that.

Simon Mackintosh

As Caroline Docherty has said, there were changes to the tax regime in 1988, particularly in relation to the taxation of personal pensions and the introduction of the new personal pensions regime, which made it rather less attractive to anyone joining the scheme to save in that way. The then contributors decided to close the fund to new contributors at that point. As I understand it, the decision was to do with changes to the tax regime under the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988.

Mary Fee (West Scotland) (Lab)

I would like a bit more information about the definition of an actuary, which section 1(1) of the bill would modernise. Currently, an actuary is a fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland or a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries. I understand that those two organisations merged in 2011, which is reflected in the proposed definition. Has the existing definition caused any difficulty since the two organisations merged? Have any views been sought from the new organisation on your proposals?

Caroline Docherty

I think it is fair to say that there have been no difficulties. What we propose is a tidying-up exercise to recognise that the change that you mentioned has taken place. We wanted to tidy up the wording to reflect the existence of the new organisation; it was not that we needed to address any difficulties that have arisen.

Christine O’Neill (Brodies LLP)

My advice to the promoters is that, as a matter of law, a change to the definition would not be required. If there was ever any difficulty around the existing definition, a court would interpret it to include the new organisation post merger. A court would take a pragmatic and sensible approach to the old definition. As Caroline Docherty indicated, the change is a tidying-up exercise. I spoke informally to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries about the change, and it suggested that, in due course, if the bill proceeds to the next stage, it might wish to see a further additional concept of something called a fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which is its new title going forward. The bill would therefore achieve a further degree of future proofing.

Mary Fee

So anything that was changed in the bill would completely match whatever the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries decided to do.

Christine O’Neill

Yes, that is the intention.

Mary Fee

Thank you. That is helpful.

The Convener

What does the role of the collector entail and how onerous is it?

Simon Mackintosh

As Caroline Docherty said in her introduction, as collector, I am the administrator of the fund, which involves liaising closely with the deputy keeper as chair of the trustees and with the six other trustees. I have to maintain good relationships with the contributors and annuitants through regular communications with them and by dealing with their phone calls and e-mails. More specifically, in dealing with the contributors, I need to collect their annual contributions and keep them informed about developments in the fund, such as the latest actuarial report, which we had a couple of years ago, and about meetings to do with that. I have to give them notice of the annual general meeting and other any other general meetings to which they are invited, and any informal consultations that the trustees carry out. I deal with their general inquiries and receive notifications from them of deaths and marriages, for example.

Twice a year, I pay out the annuity to the annuitants and get correspondence from them. If an annuitant dies, I hear from their family and the annuity comes to an end. I have to broadly keep annuitants informed of any developments to do with the fund, too. That is the external side of the role.

11:15  



Internally, I keep the fund records and deal with the banking arrangements. We collect income from the fund managers to fund the annuity payments. My office prepares the accounts for the fund each year. We get them audited and have them approved by the trustees and send them to the contributors. We also deal with United Kingdom tax compliance and we seek tax repayments from other countries under double-tax treaty arrangements. That is the compliance side of things.

We also deal with the fund managers and receive their transaction reports, which go into our records for the accounts. We deal with the actuary and get their advice, which we distribute to the trustees, and we deal with the auditor of the fund so that any audit queries are dealt with in the normal way and we can have the accounts finalised. We deal with Data Protection Act 1998 registration for the fund, and we deal with the trustees meetings. We arrange the meetings, prepare the papers and the minutes, deal with follow-up actions and so on. The administration function for the fund is very broad.

Tom Arthur

That brings us nicely to the substantive element of the bill, which is the role of the collector and who can be a collector. I referred earlier to the change that was made in 1989. I appreciate that you perhaps were not there at the time, but was any consideration given then to the potential consequence of the diminishing pool of contributors for who could be a collector in the future?

Caroline Docherty

No. It is clear that consideration was not given to that at that time. If it was thought about at all in 1989, it would have seemed very far in the future.

Tom Arthur

What was done in 1989 was simply a reaction to the changes that occurred in 1988. The immediate concerns were addressed, as opposed to doing any future proofing, as the bill seeks to do.

Caroline Docherty

Yes, absolutely. That is fair.

Tom Arthur

In the journey to the introduction of the bill, was consideration given to any other courses of action, such as reopening the fund or changing the eligibility criteria?

Caroline Docherty

No. We consider that we are where we are with the fund. Leaving aside reasons such as the fact that it would still not be tax efficient to open it up, we have always taken the view that the fund is as it is, so there is no push for any other strategy for it. The current act says that the collector has to be a writer to the signet, so the only alternative, given what I have explained about the ages of the contributors, is that we remove the requirement.

Tom Arthur

I am very conscious of the rich and long-standing traditions and heritage. I notice that the collector still has to be an individual, not a company or organisation. What is the reasoning behind that?

Caroline Docherty

That came out of feedback that we sought from the current contributors. They felt that the fund is unique and, for that reason and because of the fund’s origins, they wanted there always to be a person responsible, rather than an appointed organisation. They felt that it was important that that aspect be continued so that there was an element of personal responsibility. They like the feeling, which they have always had, that there is one person who they know they can phone if they feel the need to.

Tom Arthur

I find that interesting. Although the decision to close the fund in 1989 was very much based on tax efficiencies and so on, the recent decision was made for more subjective reasons.

Christine O’Neill

I have a point to add about the change that was made in 1989 and the change that is now being anticipated. One distinction to be aware of is that it was open to the trustees at that time to close the fund in terms of the regulations that they are allowed to make under the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Order Confirmation Act 1982. That was wholly in the control of the trustees. Had they wanted at that stage to make the change that is now being sought, legislation would have been required, so there would have been an extra step to take and they could not have done it in quite the same way as the closing of the fund was done.

Tom Arthur

I have a question for Simon Mackintosh. Given the range of obligations that you have in your role as collector, do you think that a professional organisation undertaking the role would provide greater flexibility and support than an individual could, or do you think that the role can be undertaken at the required level by an individual?

Simon Mackintosh

I personally do not do all the things required for the role. For example, I rely on professional colleagues in my firm for the preparation of the accounts. However, the contributors were quite clear that they wanted an individual in the role, although they recognise that a number of the functions required the support of a professional firm or professional organisation. They wish to continue with an individual in the role with overall responsibility to them as contributors and to the annuitants for the running of the fund. However, they recognise and expect that there will be professional backup. Indeed, all my predecessors in the role have been solicitors in private practice who had back-up from their professional firms. At least, that was the case for all my predecessors that I can think of.

Caroline Docherty

Yes, in living memory.

Simon Mackintosh

In living memory. It might be worth making a supplementary point about the late 1980s and early 1990s. The actuarial report shows that there were over 800 contributors in 1984. At that point 20-plus years ago, given that number of contributors, they would not have been thinking about running out of potential collectors. In the mid-1990s, the trustees commissioned a report from their then actuaries about the various possibilities, including the potential reopening of the fund to new entrants, but they were advised very firmly against that. They were also advised against merging with another fund or winding up the fund in the near future. The decision that was taken then, based on that advice, was to continue for 20-plus years. We are now roughly at the 20-plus-year point, and the eventual wind-up date is rather further out than they thought in the mid-1990s that it would be. However, those are the possibilities that were canvassed at that point.

Mary Fee

I have a brief follow-up question on that. You said that the contributors were advised against opening up the fund or merging it with another. Was there a particular reason or set of reasons why that advice was given?

Simon Mackintosh

I can refer to the report that the trustees received from Watson Wyatt in July 1996. The actuaries advised against reopening the fund to new entrants for the following principal reasons: first, that new entrants would have to go into part 2 of the fund, which would be a tax-inefficient way of saving, and it was difficult to see what could be provided through the fund that could not as easily and probably more cheaply be provided through the mechanism of personal pensions; and, secondly, that contributions would need to rise substantially if the existing fund was not to subsidise new contributors.

The actuaries said that it would be difficult to see why the trustees or managers of another fund would be prepared to merge with the WS fund without extracting a significant price in the form of a share of surplus.

Mary Fee

That is helpful.

The Convener

Out of interest, in relation to the election and oversight of the collector, has any thought been given to updating the regulations following the passing of the bill?

Caroline Docherty

Yes, we considered updating the regulations. It is something that we have done relatively recently. It is inevitable that we may need to update the regulations. We can do that within the regular programme of meetings and the annual general meeting of the contributors and so on. If there was a need to do that, we could do it.

Mary Fee

I will continue questions on the diminishing pool of contributors. My understanding is that the collector and the elected trustees must be contributors and must be elected by the fund’s contributors. How will that be done as the pool diminishes? I suppose that, eventually, you will get to a point at which there will be a handful of people or, potentially, no one. How will that be managed?

Caroline Docherty

It is not the case that the trustees have to be contributors. Until recently, as a matter of policy, all of the trustees were contributors, but we now have one trustee who is not—he has a particular area of expertise on which we wanted to rely; he is a solicitor and a writer to the signet. Therefore, the trustees will be able to continue because there is no requirement that they be contributors. The issue arises only in relation to the collector.

Mary Fee

That is helpful. The contributors elect a collector or a trustee. What will happen if you get to the point when there are no contributors?

Caroline Docherty

When there are no contributors, we will be into the territory that I mentioned before. At that point, there will have to be some strategy. The trustees are responsible for ensuring that the purpose of paying annuities to all potential annuitants is continued and will ensure that there is a strategy, which will probably be buying a product to ensure that happens. Who knows what products might become available in the intervening years? At the moment, we assume that annuities will have been bought for the future annuitants, so the products will be in place to pay out but there will be no need for the body of trustees.

Mary Fee

You spoke about ensuring that the bill future proofed everything. I presume that, at some point, you would look ahead five or 10 years and plan so that you knew that you would have to make alternative arrangements as the pool diminished.

Caroline Docherty

Exactly. That is in the trustees’ control and they are always conscious of it. At any point, they are looking five years, 10 years and further ahead and considering the various options for the fund.

Mary Fee

That is helpful. Thank you.

The Convener

I appreciate that this is already stated in the promoter’s memorandum but, so that we have it on record, will you give me your reasons why legislation is required to achieve the bill’s two objectives?

Christine O’Neill

Legislation is required to achieve the objectives because there is no other means by which the requirement that the collector be a contributor can be altered. It requires an amendment to primary legislation.

The Convener

Did the contributors voice any opposing views at the AGM?

Caroline Docherty

Do you mean about the proposal to remove that requirement?

The Convener

Yes.

Caroline Docherty

No, there were no opposing views.

The Convener

That is lovely. Thank you.

As there are no further questions, I thank the witnesses for coming along and answering questions so efficiently. We now move into private.

11:28 Meeting continued in private until 11:36.  



6 September 2017

20 September 2017

Writers to the Signet Dependants' Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee Stage 1 report 

Debate on the Bill

A debate for MSPs to discuss what the Bill aims to do and how it'll do it.

Preliminary Stage debate on the Bill transcript

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame)

The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-08600, in the name of Alison Harris, on the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill.

14:52  



Alison Harris (Central Scotland) (Con)

I am pleased to open the preliminary stage debate on the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill. First of all, I thank my colleagues Tom Arthur and Mary Fee for their work in getting the bill to this stage. The bill, which was introduced on 18 May 2017, is being promoted by the trustees of the writers to the signet dependants’ annuity fund. It is the third private bill to be introduced this session and the second to be discussed in the chamber.

It might be helpful if I give members a little bit of background to the fund before I outline the bill’s purpose. The writers to the signet have a long history. The signet was a private seal of the kings of Scotland, and its first recorded use was in 1369. Writers to the signet began as clerks to the keeper of the signet and were officers of the court who were entitled to work on behalf of the Crown. The Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet in Scotland—or the WS Society—was established in 1594 as the professional body of writers to the signet. As I have said, the writers to the signet have a long history; indeed, the society believes that it is the oldest professional body in the world.

The WS Society is now an independent professional body of solicitors. The society is a not-for-profit corporation for public benefit, and it provides legal training and support in the form of library services, research and drafting services as well as charitable trust administration. It also owns and operates the Signet Library in Edinburgh.

Historically, the WS Society looked after writers to the signet and their widows by making ad hoc charitable donations. The fund was formalised by private legislation in 1803 to provide for the payment of annuities to WS Society members’ widows. The legislative rules governing the fund were updated by private acts of Parliament in 1955 and 1965, and the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Order Confirmation Act 1982 provided for the fund’s name to be changed from “widows’ fund” to “dependants’ annuity fund” to recognise the fact that women were by then being admitted as members of the WS Society and to reflect the opening up of the fund to orphans as well as widows and widowers. Most recently, the fund regulations were updated to cover the civil partners of contributors to the fund.

The fund is administered by a collector, who must be a contributor to the fund and who is elected annually by other contributors at the fund’s annual general meeting. The committee heard that the number of contributors to the fund is 538, the youngest being in their early 50s and the oldest over 100. Currently there are 141 beneficiaries of the fund—who are known as annuitants—with possibly over 500 potential annuitants, and predictions suggest that the fund will continue to pay annuities into the 2040s. The promoter’s memorandum states that the value of the fund was £55.5 million in April 2016 and that the value of a current annuity is £8,400 per annum.

The decision to close the fund to new members in 1989 was based on changes to the tax regime as a result of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988, which made it more difficult for the fund to compete as a tax-efficient way of saving. Clearly, the closure of the fund has meant that the pool of eligible contributors from which a new collector can be elected has diminished and will continue to do so. One of the bill’s objectives, therefore, is to remove the requirement for the collector to be a contributor to the fund, and the change will open up the eligibility for the post of collector beyond the contributors to the fund.

The bill’s second objective is to amend the definition of “actuary” in the 1982 act to reflect the merger in 2011 of the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland and the Institute of Actuaries. The promoter’s legal advice is that it is not strictly necessary to change the definition, as any court would interpret the term to reflect the merger of the two organisations, but the promoter has included the provision for the avoidance of doubt.

On the basis of the evidence received, the committee is satisfied with the promoter’s view that there are no alternative solutions that would address the problem presented by the existing requirement for the collector to be a contributor. The committee is also content to update the definition of “actuary” as set out in the 1982 act.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill and that the bill should proceed as a private bill.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

I call Tom Arthur. You have four minutes, Mr Arthur.

Tom Arthur (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)

It is Mary Fee next.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Has there been a change of plan of which I have not been informed?

Tom Arthur

Yes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Well, I cannae guess. I call Mary Fee.

14:57  



Mary Fee (West Scotland) (Lab)

Thank you, Presiding Officer, and I apologise for the mix-up.

I thank the convener, Alison Harris, for moving the motion. As this is only the second private bill that has been debated in the Parliament in this session, I thought that members might be interested in some brief information about private bills more generally and why they are necessary.

A private bill is introduced by an outside promoter and makes specific changes to the law affecting the promoter instead of changing the public and general law. Traditionally, many private bills are about updating bits of private legislation that were passed some time ago and which have become increasingly outdated. In that context, there is always a right for people or organisations who consider that a private bill would adversely affect their interests to formally object to the bill. However, in some cases, including the one that we are discussing today, no such objections are received. Nevertheless, the Parliament has an obligation to scrutinise the bill and to satisfy itself that the changes to the law that the promoter seeks are reasonable and appropriate.

As with public bills, most of the detailed scrutiny of a private bill is undertaken by a committee. However, there are a number of important differences between the two types of committee, including the fact that private bill committees are always ad hoc ones that are set up to scrutinise a particular bill. Any MSP who has a close connection to the area that is affected by the bill is prevented from serving on the committee.

The first stage of the private bill committee process is almost equivalent to stage 1 of a public bill and is known as the preliminary stage. There are three aspects to the committee’s task at the preliminary stage: to take evidence and reach a view on whether the general principles of the bill should be approved; to reach a view on whether the bill should proceed as a private bill; and to give preliminary consideration to any objections. If the Parliament approves the bill’s general principles and agrees that it should proceed as a private bill, it goes on to the consideration stage, which is roughly equivalent to stage 2 of a public bill, and then on to the final stage, when the Parliament debates whether the bill should be passed.

The committee is pleased to support the bill’s promoter in its quest to remove the stipulation that the collector be a contributor to the fund and to substitute a new requirement that the collector be an individual. That will open up a wider field of potential experienced candidates for the post of collector and ensure that the fund can be administered effectively in the longer term. The committee also unanimously supports the change to the definition of “actuary” as laid out in the 1982 act to reflect the merger in 2011 of the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland and the Institute of Actuaries.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Thank you, Ms Fee. Please forgive the confusion. I do not know where it came from, but we will find out.

I now call Tom Arthur to close the debate.

15:01  



Tom Arthur (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)

Thank you, Presiding Officer. I apologise for any part that I played in the confusion.

I thank our convener, Alison Harris, and my committee colleague Mary Fee for their contributions. I also place on the record my thanks to the committee clerks and the Scottish Parliament information centre for their support.

In my speech, I wish to expand on the issues that the committee considered when it heard evidence from the promoter, specifically on the provision relating to the identity of the collector. I will cover that by highlighting three areas.

First, the committee asked whether the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet had considered any alternative approaches that would enable the fund to continue to meet the existing requirement for the collector to be a contributor. Solutions such as reopening the fund and changing other eligibility criteria for the collector were suggested. The deputy keeper said that there were no alternative approaches and referred to an actuarial report that advised against reopening the fund to new members, because, essentially, the reasons that prompted the scheme’s closure in 1989 still apply. The committee is content with that explanation and agrees that there is no alternative to widening the eligibility for the post of collector.

Secondly, the committee asked why the collector has to be an individual and whether employing a firm to undertake the role would provide greater flexibility and expertise than employing an individual. The promoter stated that the provision was based on consultation with the contributors, who wanted a named individual in the role. The promoter stressed, however, that the contributors recognised that the role can be undertaken only with the support of a professional firm behind the collector. We were told that all collectors—in living memory, at least—have had the support of their solicitor’s firm.

We inquired further as we wanted to satisfy ourselves about the legal responsibility for any work undertaken by the firm, but the promoter has assured us that the relationship, which is akin to that between a solicitor and their client, is one that all contributors are familiar and content with. The promoter confirmed that legal responsibility for all the functions that are carried out by the collector, whether directly by them or on their behalf by colleagues, rests with the collector. We are content with that explanation and note that all the contributors, as former solicitors, will be more than familiar with the solicitor-and-client relationship.

Thirdly, and finally, we were interested in the promoter’s longer-term plans for the management of the fund when the pool of contributors is significantly diminished. The promoter spoke about the likelihood that, at some stage in the future, the fund will be converted to cash and annuities bought. At that point, the fund would be spent and so wound up. We agree that that seems to be the most appropriate way forward.

With those assurances, the committee recommends that the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill and that the bill should proceed as a private bill.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

That concludes the preliminary stage debate on the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill.

Vote at Stage 1

Vote at Stage 1 transcript

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

The first question is, that motion S5M-08600, in the name of Alison Harris, on the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill, be agreed to.

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill and that the bill should proceed as a private bill.

The Presiding Officer

The final question is, that motion S5M-08706, in the name of Gillian Martin, on stage 3 of the Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill, be agreed to. There will be a division.

For

Yousaf, Humza (Glasgow Pollok) (SNP)
Wightman, Andy (Lothian) (Green)
Whittle, Brian (South Scotland) (Con)
Wheelhouse, Paul (South Scotland) (SNP)
Wells, Annie (Glasgow) (Con)
Watt, Maureen (Aberdeen South and North Kincardine) (SNP)
Torrance, David (Kirkcaldy) (SNP)
Tomkins, Adam (Glasgow) (Con)
Todd, Maree (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)
Stewart, Kevin (Aberdeen Central) (SNP)
Stewart, David (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
Stewart, Alexander (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Stevenson, Stewart (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)
Somerville, Shirley-Anne (Dunfermline) (SNP)
Smyth, Colin (South Scotland) (Lab)
Smith, Liz (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Smith, Elaine (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Simpson, Graham (Central Scotland) (Con)
Scott, John (Ayr) (Con)
Ruskell, Mark (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)
Rumbles, Mike (North East Scotland) (LD)
Ross, Gail (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross) (SNP)
Robison, Shona (Dundee City East) (SNP)
Rennie, Willie (North East Fife) (LD)
Neil, Alex (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP)
Mundell, Oliver (Dumfriesshire) (Con)
Mountain, Edward (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Mitchell, Margaret (Central Scotland) (Con)
McMillan, Stuart (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP)
McKee, Ivan (Glasgow Provan) (SNP)
McAlpine, Joan (South Scotland) (SNP)
Matheson, Michael (Falkirk West) (SNP)
Mason, John (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)
Martin, Gillian (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)
Maguire, Ruth (Cunninghame South) (SNP)
Macpherson, Ben (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (SNP)
Mackay, Rona (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP)
Mackay, Derek (Renfrewshire North and West) (SNP)
MacGregor, Fulton (Coatbridge and Chryston) (SNP)
Macdonald, Lewis (North East Scotland) (Lab)
MacDonald, Angus (Falkirk East) (SNP)
Lyle, Richard (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)
Lockhart, Dean (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Lochhead, Richard (Moray) (SNP)
Lindhurst, Gordon (Lothian) (Con)
Lennon, Monica (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Lamont, Johann (Glasgow) (Lab)
Kidd, Bill (Glasgow Anniesland) (SNP)
Kerr, Liam (North East Scotland) (Con)
Kelly, James (Glasgow) (Lab)
Johnstone, Alison (Lothian) (Green)
Johnson, Daniel (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)
Hepburn, Jamie (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth) (SNP)
Haughey, Clare (Rutherglen) (SNP)
Harvie, Patrick (Glasgow) (Green)
Harper, Emma (South Scotland) (SNP)
Hamilton, Rachael (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)
Halcro Johnston, Jamie (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Griffin, Mark (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Greer, Ross (West Scotland) (Green)
Greene, Jamie (West Scotland) (Con)
Gray, Iain (East Lothian) (Lab)
Grant, Rhoda (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
Grahame, Christine (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP)
Gougeon, Mairi (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)
Gibson, Kenneth (Cunninghame North) (SNP)
Freeman, Jeane (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) (SNP)
Fraser, Murdo (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Forbes, Kate (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) (SNP)
FitzPatrick, Joe (Dundee City West) (SNP)
Finnie, John (Highlands and Islands) (Green)
Fee, Mary (West Scotland) (Lab)
Fabiani, Linda (East Kilbride) (SNP)
Ewing, Fergus (Inverness and Nairn) (SNP)
Ewing, Annabelle (Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
Doris, Bob (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)
Dey, Graeme (Angus South) (SNP)
Denham, Ash (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)
Cunningham, Roseanna (Perthshire South and Kinross-shire) (SNP)
Crawford, Bruce (Stirling) (SNP)
Corry, Maurice (West Scotland) (Con)
Constance, Angela (Almond Valley) (SNP)
Cole-Hamilton, Alex (Edinburgh Western) (LD)
Coffey, Willie (Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley) (SNP)
Chapman, Peter (North East Scotland) (Con)
Carson, Finlay (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)
Campbell, Aileen (Clydesdale) (SNP)
Cameron, Donald (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Burnett, Alexander (Aberdeenshire West) (Con)
Briggs, Miles (Lothian) (Con)
Bowman, Bill (North East Scotland) (Con)
Bibby, Neil (West Scotland) (Lab)
Beattie, Colin (Midlothian North and Musselburgh) (SNP)
Beamish, Claudia (South Scotland) (Lab)
Ballantyne, Michelle (South Scotland) (Con)
Balfour, Jeremy (Lothian) (Con)
Baker, Claire (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Baillie, Jackie (Dumbarton) (Lab)
Arthur, Tom (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
Allan, Alasdair (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
Adamson, Clare (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
Adam, George (Paisley) (SNP)

The Presiding Officer

The result of the division is: For 102, Against 0, Abstentions 0.

The motion has been agreed to and the Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill has been passed. [Applause.]

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees that the Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill be passed.

Meeting closed at 17:03.  



MSPs agreed that this Bill could continue

Consideration Stage 

Members of the Private Bill Committee can propose changes to the Bill. Objections and changes are considered and then decided on by the committee.

Changes to the Bill

MSPs can propose changes to a Bill  these are called 'amendments'. The changes are considered then voted on by the lead committee.

The lists of proposed changes are known as a 'marshalled list'. There's a separate list for each week that the committee is looking at proposed changes.

The 'groupings' document groups amendments together based on their subject matter. It shows the order in which the amendments will be debated by the committee and in the Chamber. This is to avoid repetition in the debates.

How is it decided whether the changes go into the Bill?

When MSPs want to make a change to a Bill, they propose an 'amendment'. This sets out the changes they want to make to a specific part of the Bill.

The group of MSPs that is examining the Bill (lead committee) votes on whether it thinks each amendment should be accepted or not.

Depending on the number of amendments, this can be done during one or more meetings.

First meeting at Consideration Stage

Documents with the amendments considered at this meeting held on 22 November 2017:

First meeting at Consideration Stage transcript

The Convener (Alison Harris)

Good morning and welcome to the fifth meeting of the Writers to the Signet Dependents’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee. I remind everyone present, including members, that mobile phones should be turned off.

Our first item of business is to identify whether any amendments lodged adversely affect private interests. Members will have seen the procedural note that was circulated in advance of the meeting, which sets out the process in detail.

We have only one amendment to consider. I am content that, as it seeks only to update the definition of “actuary”, the amendment does not adversely affect any private interests. Are members agreed?

Members indicated agreement.

The Convener

In that case, we move on immediately to disposal of the amendment and debate on the bill. Our task is to consider the one amendment that a member of the committee has lodged: amendment 1, in the name of Tom Arthur. In addition, we are required to agree to each provision of the bill at the appropriate point. Only members of the committee are permitted to participate in the proceedings. Members should have with them the bill and the marshalled list. As there is only one amendment, there are no groupings.

Section 1—Amendment of the 1982 Act

The Convener

I call amendment 1, in the name of Tom Arthur, on behalf of the promoter.

Tom Arthur (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)

Good morning. During the meeting of the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee on 20 September 2017, it was said on behalf of the promoter that an amendment to the bill might be lodged in relation to the definition of “actuary”, with the intention of achieving a degree of future proofing in relation to further changes that the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries might make.

As things stand, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries allows its fellows to use the designation “Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries” or “Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries”, depending on how they became fellows. Therefore, under the bill as introduced, there is no difficulty in identifying a person who meets the proposed definition. However, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries also defines a fellow in its byelaws as:

“a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries”

and a person is such a fellow whether they use the designation “Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries” or “Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries”.

The promoter’s view is that, as the definition in the byelaws covers both types of fellow, and to take account of the possibility that the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries might change the use of designations at some stage in the future, that definition is more appropriate.

I move amendment 1.

Amendment 1 agreed to.

Section 1, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.

Long title agreed to.

The Convener

That ends consideration stage. The Parliament has not yet agreed the date for final stage. Any member of the Parliament may lodge amendments for final stage. An amended print of the bill will be available on the Parliament’s website by tomorrow morning.

It is for me, as convener of the private bill committee, to lodge the motion that is necessary for the Parliament to decide whether the bill is to be passed. Are members content for me to lodge a motion proposing that it be passed?

Members indicated agreement.

The Convener

Thank you.

Meeting closed at 10:34.  



Writers to the Signet Dependants' Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill as amended at Consideration Stage 

Final Stage - Final amendments and vote

MSPs can propose amendments to the Bill and then vote on each of these. Finally, they vote on whether the Bill should become law

Final debate on the Bill

Once they've debated the amendments, the MSPs discuss the final version of the Bill.

Final debate transcript

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani)

The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-09128, in the name of Alison Harris, on the final stage of the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill.

The Presiding Officer is required under standing orders to decide whether, in his view, any provision of the bill relates to a protected subject matter. To put it briefly, that is whether it modifies the electoral system and franchise for Scottish parliamentary elections. If it does, the motion to pass the bill will require support from a super-majority of members—that is a two-thirds majority of all members, which is 86.

In the case of this bill, the Presiding Officer has decided that in his view, no provision of the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill relates to a protected subject matter. Therefore, the bill does not require a super-majority in order to be passed.

I call Alison Harris to speak to and move the motion on behalf of the bill committee.

16:53  



Alison Harris (Central Scotland) (Con)

I am delighted to open this final stage debate on the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill. I thank my colleagues, Mary Fee and Tom Arthur, for all their input during the various stages of the bill, and also the committee clerks.

Historically, the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet—the WS Society—looked after writers to the signet and their widows by making ad hoc charitable donations. The fund was formalised by private legislation in 1803, which provided for the payment of annuities to WS Society members’ widows.

The legislation was subsequently updated, most recently by the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Order Confirmation Act 1982, which sets out the current legislative framework. The 1982 act provided for the change of name from the widows’ fund to the dependants’ annuity fund, in recognition of the fact that women were then admitted to the WS Society, and the fund was opened up to orphans. More recently, the fund regulations were updated to cover the civil partners of contributors to the fund.

The bill was introduced as a private bill to the Scottish Parliament on 18 May 2017, and the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee was established to consider the bill during its passage through the Parliament.

Private bills are bills that impact primarily on private interests—that is, on specific groups or individuals. They differ from public bills, which have a broader and wider effect on society. The private bill process is very much focused on giving those whose interests might be engaged by a private bill the opportunity to make representations to the Parliament, or to object to the bill. The objection period for the bill ran until 18 July 2017. No objections were received, and nor did the committee receive any written evidence.

The value of the fund is about £55 million, and the value of each annuity is £8,400. In 1989, the fund was closed to new members. There are 141 beneficiaries of the fund—known as annuitants—and up to 500 potential annuitants with an expectation that the fund will continue paying annuities into the 2040s.

The bill has two objectives relating to updating the 1982 act. First, section 1(1) seeks to update the definition of “actuary”. That is a minor technical change that follows the merger of the two professional actuarial bodies. Secondly, section 1(2) seeks to remove the requirement for the collector to be a contributor to the fund, and places a new requirement for the collector to be an individual. The bill does not otherwise affect the role, or functions, of the collector.

The second objective is to widen the pool of people who are eligible to be elected as collector and to ensure that the contributors will have the opportunity to elect someone with relevant experience and expertise.

The committee considered the bill’s objectives during the first—or preliminary—stage of the bill’s scrutiny and agreed with its general principles. The committee remains content that the bill is necessary and worth while. As a result, I am pleased to move the motion in my name.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees that the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill be passed.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

I call Mary Fee. It would be appreciated if you could deliver your speech in two minutes, Ms Fee.

16:57  



Mary Fee (West Scotland) (Lab)

I will do my very best, Presiding Officer.

Like all committees considering legislation, it is the role of a private bill committee to consider the general principles of the bill at the first, or preliminary, stage and any amendments to the bill at the second, or consideration, stage.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Excuse me, Ms Fee. I ask everyone to be quiet, please. This is an important piece of legislation.

Mary Fee

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

At preliminary stage, the committee took evidence from the promoters of the bill. The committee discussed the updated definition of “actuary” in section 1(1). The promoters confirmed that the definition was being updated in the light of the 2011 merger of the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland and the Institute of Actuaries. The promoters considered that the update was not strictly necessary, as

“A court would take a pragmatic and sensible approach”—[Official Report, Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee, 20 September 2017; c 5.]

should statutory interpretation be required, but that the update was

“proposed for the avoidance of doubt.”

The committee was content with that explanation.

At consideration stage, the promoters sought to further future proof the definition of “actuary” by way of an amendment in response

“to further changes that the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries might make.”—[Official Report, Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee, 22 November 2017; c 2.]

We were satisfied with the promoters’ explanation and agreed to the amendment.

With regard to section 1(2), which defines who is eligible to be the collector, the committee agreed that the future administration of the fund required a change to the 1982 act, given the diminishing pool of contributors to which Alison Harris referred.

The committee explored a number of issues in order to satisfy itself that the proposed amendment to the 1982 act was the best solution to the problem. The promoters confirmed that reopening the fund to new contributors was not an option. They argued that the reasons for closing the fund in 1989, namely that changes to the tax regime had made the fund

“a tax-inefficient way of saving”—[Official Report, Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee, 20 September 2017; c 8.]

were still valid.

The committee explored the reasons for the requirement that the contributor must be an individual rather than a company, a limited liability partnership or an unincorporated association. The promoters explained that the provision had been prompted by feedback from the contributors themselves, who

“were quite clear that they wanted an individual in the role, although they recognise that a number of the functions required the support of a professional firm or professional organisation.”—[Official Report, Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee, 20 September 2017; c 7.]

The promoters highlighted that all the fund’s contributors in living memory had been supported by their own solicitors’ firm. The committee noted that that would be a matter for the trustees of the fund when advertising the role of contributor; that process is not covered by the 1982 act and therefore does not need to be set out in the bill. The committee was content with those explanations and agreed that the new provision relating to the collector was the most sensible solution.

The committee also asked the promoters about the future administration of the fund and particularly the trustees’ expectations of how it will be managed as the pool of contributors further diminishes. As the contributors elect the trustees and collector each year, their diminishing number will ultimately impact on the administration of the fund. The promoters envisage that at some point the fund will be converted to cash and the cash used to purchase annuities for the remaining annuitants. At that point, the fund would effectively be wound up. The committee agreed that that strategy seems the most appropriate way forward.

On the basis of the promoter’s evidence, the committee agreed with the general principles of the bill. That remains our view and, accordingly, I am happy to support the motion for the bill to be passed.

17:01  



Tom Arthur (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)

I thank the committee clerks and the researchers for all their support; I also thank my committee colleagues Alison Harris and Mary Fee. As my colleagues on the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee have spoken about our consideration of, and full support for, the bill, I will use this opportunity to provide very briefly some of the broader context of the private bills that the Parliament has considered so far this session.

Alison Harris, Mary Fee and I have sat as members of the three private bill committees constituted by the Parliamentary Bureau to consider the three private bills that have been introduced so far this session. The other committees are the Edinburgh Bakers’ Widows’ Fund Bill Committee and the Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission (Scotland) Bill Committee—I have acted as convener on both those committees.

The Edinburgh Bakers’ Widows’ Fund Bill was introduced on 20 March this year and sought to transfer the property and assets of the Edinburgh Bakers’ Widows’ Fund to a modern, non-statutory charitable trust that would support education and training opportunities in baking. The committee supported the bill, which received no objections and was not amended at the consideration stage. The bill was passed by the Parliament on 21 November.

Slightly earlier than the introduction of that bill, the Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission (Scotland) Bill was introduced on 17 March this year, and seeks to make various changes to the Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission. It is a more complex bill and is taking longer to consider because three objections have been lodged, so its final stage will not be reached until the spring of next year. You have not seen the last of us yet, Presiding Officer.

The third private bill to be introduced this session was the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced on 18 July. As Mary Fee explained, no objections were lodged in respect of the bill, but one amendment of a very minor and technical nature was agreed at the consideration stage. Like my bill committee colleagues, I am content that effective scrutiny has been done on the bill and that it therefore deserves the Parliament’s support. On that basis, I am happy to support the motion for the bill to be passed.

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

All in one breath. [Laughter.]

Final vote on the Bill

After the final discussion of the Bill, MSPs vote on whether they think it should become law.

Final vote transcript

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

There are four questions to be put as a result of today’s business. The first question is, that amendment S5M-09529.1, in the name of Annie Wells, which seeks to amend motion S5M-09529, in the name of Angela Constance, on a fairer Scotland—delivering race equality, be agreed to.

Amendment agreed to.

The Presiding Officer

The next question is, that amendment S5M-09529.3, in the name of Pauline McNeill, which seeks to amend motion S5M-09529, in the name of Angela Constance, on a fairer Scotland—delivering race equality, be agreed to.

Amendment agreed to.

The Presiding Officer

The next question is, that motion S5M-09529, in the name of Angela Constance, on a fairer Scotland—delivering race equality, as amended, be agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to,

That the Parliament believes that no one should be marginalised or discriminated against because of their race or background and that Scotland should be a place where everyone is equal; notes the publication of the report by the Independent Race Equality Adviser, Kaliani Lyle, Addressing Race Inequality in Scotland: The Way Forward, highlighting key priority areas for improvement, and acknowledges the actions being put in place through the Scottish Government’s Race Equality Action Plan to tackle racial discrimination and inequality in society; welcomes the creation of a Scottish Government ministerial working group to determine priorities for action and drive forward the changes required to improve the lives of Scotland’s Gypsy/Traveller communities; recognises that, to achieve race equality, all of society must play a role in removing barriers that stand in the way of people from an ethnic minority group reaching their full potential; agrees that everyone must work together to create a fair and equal Scotland for all who live and work here; notes the need to respond to calls from racial equality charities to continually improve the data available for protected characteristics and fill evidence gaps, and calls on the Scottish Government to commit to a system that is able to establish what has and what has not been effective, identify barriers to progress, update the action plan with any new approach determined and monitor and evaluate the impact of the Race Equality Action Plan at regular intervals, preferably at least every three years, including through involving key race equality bodies in the work of the ministerial working group.

The Presiding Officer

The final question is, that motion S5M-09128, in the name of Alison Harris, on the final stage of the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill, be agreed to. There will be a division.

For

Yousaf, Humza (Glasgow Pollok) (SNP)
Wightman, Andy (Lothian) (Green)
Whittle, Brian (South Scotland) (Con)
White, Sandra (Glasgow Kelvin) (SNP)
Wheelhouse, Paul (South Scotland) (SNP)
Wells, Annie (Glasgow) (Con)
Watt, Maureen (Aberdeen South and North Kincardine) (SNP)
Torrance, David (Kirkcaldy) (SNP)
Tomkins, Adam (Glasgow) (Con)
Todd, Maree (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)
Swinney, John (Perthshire North) (SNP)
Stewart, Kevin (Aberdeen Central) (SNP)
Stewart, Alexander (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Stevenson, Stewart (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)
Somerville, Shirley-Anne (Dunfermline) (SNP)
Smyth, Colin (South Scotland) (Lab)
Smith, Liz (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Simpson, Graham (Central Scotland) (Con)
Scott, John (Ayr) (Con)
Sarwar, Anas (Glasgow) (Lab)
Russell, Michael (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)
Ruskell, Mark (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)
Ross, Gail (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross) (SNP)
Robison, Shona (Dundee City East) (SNP)
Neil, Alex (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP)
Mundell, Oliver (Dumfriesshire) (Con)
Mountain, Edward (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Mitchell, Margaret (Central Scotland) (Con)
McNeill, Pauline (Glasgow) (Lab)
McMillan, Stuart (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP)
McKee, Ivan (Glasgow Provan) (SNP)
McArthur, Liam (Orkney Islands) (LD)
McAlpine, Joan (South Scotland) (SNP)
Matheson, Michael (Falkirk West) (SNP)
Mason, Tom (North East Scotland) (Con)
Mason, John (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)
Martin, Gillian (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)
Maguire, Ruth (Cunninghame South) (SNP)
Macpherson, Ben (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (SNP)
Mackay, Rona (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP)
Mackay, Derek (Renfrewshire North and West) (SNP)
MacGregor, Fulton (Coatbridge and Chryston) (SNP)
Macdonald, Lewis (North East Scotland) (Lab)
MacDonald, Angus (Falkirk East) (SNP)
Lyle, Richard (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)
Lockhart, Dean (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Lochhead, Richard (Moray) (SNP)
Leonard, Richard (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Lennon, Monica (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Lamont, Johann (Glasgow) (Lab)
Kidd, Bill (Glasgow Anniesland) (SNP)
Kerr, Liam (North East Scotland) (Con)
Kelly, James (Glasgow) (Lab)
Johnstone, Alison (Lothian) (Green)
Halcro Johnston, Jamie (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Johnson, Daniel (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)
Hyslop, Fiona (Linlithgow) (SNP)
Hepburn, Jamie (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth) (SNP)
Haughey, Clare (Rutherglen) (SNP)
Harvie, Patrick (Glasgow) (Green)
Harris, Alison (Central Scotland) (Con)
Harper, Emma (South Scotland) (SNP)
Griffin, Mark (Central Scotland) (Lab)
Greer, Ross (West Scotland) (Green)
Greene, Jamie (West Scotland) (Con)
Gray, Iain (East Lothian) (Lab)
Grahame, Christine (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP)
Gougeon, Mairi (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)
Gilruth, Jenny (Mid Fife and Glenrothes) (SNP)
Freeman, Jeane (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) (SNP)
Fraser, Murdo (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Forbes, Kate (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) (SNP)
FitzPatrick, Joe (Dundee City West) (SNP)
Finnie, John (Highlands and Islands) (Green)
Findlay, Neil (Lothian) (Lab)
Fee, Mary (West Scotland) (Lab)
Fabiani, Linda (East Kilbride) (SNP)
Ewing, Fergus (Inverness and Nairn) (SNP)
Ewing, Annabelle (Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
Dugdale, Kezia (Lothian) (Lab)
Dornan, James (Glasgow Cathcart) (SNP)
Doris, Bob (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)
Dey, Graeme (Angus South) (SNP)
Denham, Ash (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)
Crawford, Bruce (Stirling) (SNP)
Corry, Maurice (West Scotland) (Con)
Constance, Angela (Almond Valley) (SNP)
Cole-Hamilton, Alex (Edinburgh Western) (LD)
Coffey, Willie (Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley) (SNP)
Chapman, Peter (North East Scotland) (Con)
Campbell, Aileen (Clydesdale) (SNP)
Cameron, Donald (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Burnett, Alexander (Aberdeenshire West) (Con)
Brown, Keith (Clackmannanshire and Dunblane) (SNP)
Briggs, Miles (Lothian) (Con)
Bowman, Bill (North East Scotland) (Con)
Bibby, Neil (West Scotland) (Lab)
Beattie, Colin (Midlothian North and Musselburgh) (SNP)
Beamish, Claudia (South Scotland) (Lab)
Ballantyne, Michelle (South Scotland) (Con)
Baillie, Jackie (Dumbarton) (Lab)
Arthur, Tom (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
Allan, Dr Alasdair (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
Adamson, Clare (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
Adam, George (Paisley) (SNP)

The Presiding Officer

The result of the division is: For 105, Against 0, Abstentions 0.

Motion agreed to,

That the Parliament agrees that the Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Bill be passed.

Meeting closed at 17:05.  



This Bill was passed on 14 December 2017 and became an Act on 18 January 2018.  
Find the Writers to the Signet Dependants' Annuity Fund Amendment (Scotland) Act 2018 on legislation.gov.uk

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