It is disappointing that The Herald carries no report of yesterday's debate in the Parliament about the report of the Procedures Committee on private legislation. The Scotsman limits itself to a rather snide sketch on the matter.
Because this is an important issue. The private legislation procedure in Parliament is in danger of breaking down. For example, the Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill remains marooned at its consideration stage in Committee, despite having been introduced in January 2004; the bill is not expected to complete its parliamentary procedures until the end of 2005. Does it really need 2 years of parliamentary consideration to decide if the tram line promoters should be allowed to proceed? It means building in those 2 years to the timetable for developing such transport projects, including both Edinburgh tram lines and the airport-city centre links, thus slowing down urgent transport developments. And is a parliamentary procedure designed to deal with railway developments in the 1840s appropriate to the circumstances of today?
In the light of these and other considerations, the Procedures Committee produced what seems to me a sensible and balanced report on what needs to be done. It is not perfect of course; but according to those MSPs who spoke in yesterday's debate the report seems acceptable both to conservationists and developers. So a tip of the hat to the Scottish Parliament's Procedures Committee and a D- to the mainstream media.
For those who wish to read the debate, the official report is here.