Mark McDonald, MSP for Aberdeen Donside, addresses the Scottish Parliament on 8 March. Watch the video below and click "read more" to view the text of the speech.
- Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP): Thank you very much Presiding Officer. It is good to know that, unlike at stage 1, when I was the only speaker in the open debate, I will have some company this time around.
A group of schoolchildren came into the public gallery and had to sit through the discussion on the amendments. As we discussed the finer merits of technical amendments to a taxation policy, I contemplated what a fine job we were doing of teaching them that politics was not in any way dry, boring or dull. It is fair to say that at least Gavin Brown did his best to inject a bit of heat into the debate, although he was a little uncharitable in his description of how the Finance Committee approached the issue of a grace period, particularly at stage 2.
The Deputy First Minister stated—and Jackie Baillie agreed in her remarks just now—that a grace period was included at stage 2. The Finance Committee recommended only that there should be a grace period; it did not recommend a specific length of time. As Gavin Brown will recall, we had a long discussion about that issue in committee. It was felt that, on balance, it would be best for the committee to recommend a grace period and allow the Scottish Government to decide on the most appropriate length of time.
- Gavin Brown: Will the member give way?
- Mark McDonald: I ask Gavin Brown to give me one moment.
Gavin Brown is perfectly entitled to disagree with the length of time of the grace period and to advocate for the points that he wishes to make. However, he must accept, first, that the committee recommended merely a grace period; secondly, that the Deputy First Minister proposed a grace period that was voted on in committee and accepted; and thirdly, that there was no duress applied with regard to how the committee members voted. Committee members assessed the options that were in front of them and voted accordingly.