Budgets, human rights, and Alex Salmond’s last hurrah

The budget process is reaching a pitch of activity as committees push to complete their scrutiny and their reports, so this week has continued the high levels of parliamentary business that we associate with this time of year. The week also had an unusual momentum, however, building towards Alex Salmond’s final First Minister’s question time, which was the 215th time that he was held to account in the chamber. Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, wanted to know whether Alex Salmond really was resigning as party leader. Nicola Sturgeon urged him to answer.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell, updated the chamber on Tuesday on the Government’s position on child protection issues. The cabinet secretary paid tribute to Alan Miller, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and his team for their work.

A debate on human rights followed the statement. Roseanna Cunningham opened the debate and cited, again, Alan Miller:

Playing party politics with human rights is irresponsible, undermines the rule of law, sets a dangerous precedent to other states and risks taking us backwards when it comes to protecting people’s rights in everyday life.

Duncan McNeil chose to highlight the words of Eleanor Roosevelt that Alan Miller included in the national action plan for human rights. Other members prayed in aid Thorbjorn Jaglan, secretary general of the Council of Europe, Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, former chancellor Ken Clarke and even, or perhaps of course, Robert Burns. Rod Campbell cited Dominic Grieve’s assessment of plans to rework Britain’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights as a “cockamamie scheme” and then helpfully offered a definition: “By ‘cockamamie’ we mean something ridiculous, incredible or implausible.” The debate also provided the Official Report’s first instance of “Ukippery”. Although it’s new to us, in the wider world the word has its own hashtag.

Also worth a look:

The debate on welfare benefits for people with disabilities