Thursday, October 6, 2016

FMQS 6 October

Before FMQS kicked off today Nicola made a direct attack on Ruth Davidson in the Parliament. She said that Ruth should be ashamed of herself after the Conservative Party Conference. In response, there was much cheering in the chamber.

Ruth Davidson:

Ruth began the questions with the recently published Strathclyde University's Fraser of Allander report on the risks to Scotland's business that says: Scotland could lose 80,000 jobs and that Brexit could cost every person in Scotland £2000.

Fraser of Allander Report here:

Ruth asked what the Scottish Government was doing to protect Scotland from Brexit risks. Laughter rose up in the chamber.

Nicola said it "was a bit rich asking how we are protecting about risks when it was her Government that created them". Nicola said that Scottish Government was doing everything in their power to protect Scotland and "unlike Ruth Davidson my position hasn't changed" (referring to Ruth's position post EU ref vote where she has moved from wanting access to a single market and accepting Conservative Party HQ line of hard Brexit with no access to single market). 

Here is Ruth's position in July:

Ruth then moved on to underground coal gasification.
(Ruth wants us to become a world leader in this area). She made mention of an expert report on the Scottish Government's website.(The report is about fracking, not UCG).

Nicola said that "Ruth seems to think that we should ride roughshod over environmental concerns". She recognised that reports on UCG and fracking were on their way to the Scottish Government and "Paul Wheelhouse will report back and we will proceed with caution".

Ruth moved on to the food and drink aspect of the Fraser of Allander report. "Latin America has a huge market for Scottish Whisky" and claimed that "below Texas, Scotland has no presence in America". Ruth asked the First Minister what trade links would be set up to encourage international trade with Scotland. 

Nicola said Ruth has moved from UCG to fracking and says that Ruth doesn't seem to know the difference between the two.

Nicola said the SDI are doing excellent work and there will be new investment hubs in London Paris and Dublin - so that we are not reliant on Boris Johnson to protect Scottish trade.

SDI info:

Ruth then accused the FM in being more interested in her (Ruth) than in Scotland. The rebuke before FMQS was obviously still hurting.

Ruth repeated that she believes that EU citizens are welcome in Scotland.

Nicola said in response that Ruth has "flipped and flopped over and over again over the EU referendum".
Nicola said: "She wants control of immigration to stay in the hands of the xenophobes, I want it in the control of the Scottish Govt".

[Interesting to note, Ruth Davidson never says: "protect Scotland's interests".] 

Kezia Dugdale:

Kezia Dugdale's questions concentrated on transport. She claimed that passengers were getting short-changed by Abelio (winners of the Scotrail franchise).

Kezia said there were too many cancellations and delays and that 1/3 of services were late more often than on time. She finished with:"The rail network is working for the transport bosses not the passengers".

Nicola said there is an improvement plan in place with Scotrail and there are ongoing meetings with the Transport Minister.

Kezia suggested "the FM gets on a train to find out how overcrowded they are". And finished with "What's she going to do to get things back on track?"

Bruce Crawford: 

"HSBC are transferring 200 jobs from Stirling and I am concerned about consultation". 

Nicola repsonded "Scottish Enterprise are supporting and PACE if required (if there are redundancies)."

Bruce went on to ask about Stirling City deal and Nicola responded that she was supportive of that.

Neil Bibby:

Neil asked about Bus Services and noted that Glasgow bus routes are changing. Many services have been lost and passenger journey numbers are down."How many more bus services can be withdrawn before the FM does anything to help?"

Nicola responded: "First Glasgow should consult with communities and we shall monitor the situation via the Transport Minister".

David Stewart:

David asked the FM to welcome Dunoon to Gourock ferry campaigners to the Parliament. (They were present in the public gallery).
David said they were concerned that the Procurement
process for the Ferry Tender pay special attention to Town centre to town centre transport.

Nicola responded that she knew many of the campaigners from her days in a ministerial role and that she was well aware of their concerns but: "As we are now in official tender the Scottish Government cannot comment".

Willie Rennie:  

Willie referenced Liam Fox's reported comment that EU nationals were "cards" to be played in Brexit negotiations.

He also said that it was deplorable that listing foreign workers was being recommended by Amber Rudd.
"People that voted for Brexit did not vote to send their friends home".

Nicola said we have taken steps to assure EU nationals and that she did so on the morning after the vote. She said:

"Unfortunately I do not have the power to grant the right for EU nationals to stay in Scotland".

"I wish the UK Government would stop using human beings as bargaining chips and give them the right to stay here in Scotland".

Willie moved on to a question about Amazon:
"Amazon have recruited people below the living wage and we are giving them funding".

Willie refers to this story:

Willie asked "Does she still intend to do anything - or is she happy that they do not have a living wage?"

Nicola replied: "I wish I had the right to legislate on wage levels so that I could bring the minimum wage up to living wage" and "You should join me in campaigning for those powers to be devolved to Scotland".

(It is to be noted that the Lib Dems joined Labour in blocking Employment Law being devolved to the Scottish Government during the Smith Commission negotiations that took place shortly after the first independence referendum).

Clare Haughey:

Asked for the Tories to reveal their Brexit plan and directed her gaze to Ruth Davidson.

Nicola said: " 3 months on we have nothing from the UK Government. It will cost people of Scotland lost jobs and lost wages. Meanwhile the current decisions by the PM are designed to appease the Tory right".

Douglas Ross:

Raised his concern about the extension of electronic monitoring to registered sex offenders
He referenced a Mr Andrew Flannagan of the Scottish Police Authority who says there would be a concern if it was used for sex offenders.

Nicola responded that "it was not for the Scottish Government to intervene in the judicial process and that sentencing was a matter for the courts".

Daniel Johnson:

Daniel brought up the fact that there had been a major rupture of the water main in Liberton in Edinburgh. He said there had been "major destruction" with many families affected. Then he said it was "fortunate that the only reason there had not been a loss of life was that an elderly family were in a care home". 

He then went on to say that water main valves are causing Scottish Water great problems in Edinburgh and other cities and asked the FM what steps were being taken to remedy.

Nicola responded that it was a matter for Scottish Water and that she was aware of the water main problem.

Tavish Scott:

Tavish asked about the goings-on at the Crofting Commission. referring to this story:

Tavish described the convener's behaviour as "problematic" and asked the FM to intervene.

Nicola replied that it was not normal practice for the Scottish Government to intervene in third party organisations, but that the Scottish Government did have a stake in this one and that if required there would be an intervention, but in the meantime the Minister responsible was monitoring.

Christine McKelvie:

Christine asked for the FM's opinion on Scottish Attitudes survey's findings that prejudices were on the decrease in Scotland.

She then went on to contrast this with the Conservative Party conference as a "disgraceful display of reactionary right wing politics".

The First Minister agreed that the Scottish Attitudes Survey was encouraging but that there was much work to do. "How do we build a tolerant inclusive society? We do that by standing strong. By not judging people by where they were born or the colour of the passport".

Nicola noted that "Theresa May's speech was praised by Marine LePen and that Nigel Farage said everything that was said by Theresa May was said by him in recent months".

Ross Greer:

Ross asked the FM to denounce the "Hateful disgusting rhetoric" of the Tory Party Conference.

Nicola agreed and said she "Would stand full square with any company that withheld the information suggested be collected by Amber Rudd".

She then went on to note: "Named and shamed!" 
"as if there was something shameful about". The language used by Amber Rudd is shameful and disgusting.

Anas Sarwar:

Anas commended the fact that hate crime was down in Scotland but: "We stilll have bad things happening"
Anas said: "Prejudice and hatred has no place in Scotland.Cases of Islamophobia are up 89%"
Anas asked:

"What is FM doing to make sure this is on the agenda?"

Nicola said: "should make diversity a key strength of our country".

Donald Campbell:

Donald asked about drug-related acute hospital space and what sort of a problem was it for the NHS.

Nicola answered that there was an issue in the NHS with problem drug use and that NHS staff were working with other agencies to reduce the harm.
She said "there is an ageing cohort of drug users and we are working to identify and understand the needs of these individuals".
Donald said: 
"there are 500 people, 250 of them live in deprived areas, the most deprived areas have the biggest problem"

Nicola says the trends highlighted that younger people were not using drugs in the same way as this generation that were now needing hospital care.

Kenneth Gibson:

Asked the FM to agree that:
Drug related crime has fallen and that nationally drug taking among the general population is falling.
The First Minister agreed.

Jackie Baillie:

Jackie asked about EU spending rules and suspensions. The question was unclear and vague and the First Minister responded only to be told by Jackie that the people advising her must have got their responses mixed up.

The FM explained that suspensions by the EU have been lifted on the projects she referred to.

"She's answered  a different question" laughed Ms Baillie

Jackie said there was a £900m funding gap on Capital Projects. Jackie claimed capital had been transferred from Scottish Water and housing to finance other projects.

The FM assured Jackie that all the capital projects were funded.

This was a messy exchange where both questioner and questioned were talking about completely different things.

Murdo Fraser:

Murdo referenced the Auditor General's report and said that £14m had been lost due to financial incompetence.
Nicola responded that the EU suspensions have been lifted and that project monies were being reimbursed
She said "We've learnt lessons and we have applied those lessons".

Emma Harper:

Asked about the proposed deadline of March 17 for the triggering of article 50 and called the Conservatives "deeply irresponsible".

The FM responded that we needed direction 
Direction on how the UK plans to exit from the EU
On exit from the single market
"Financial services passporting has
real implications for each and every one of us".

"I hope everybody in this chamber will call for staying in the single market".
She then went on to say that
"May has no mandate from Scotland"

Liz Smith:

Liz asked about
Head injuries in sport further to her communication with the FM on this subject in 2015.

Firstly, the FM said "Parliament coveys condolences to Mike Towell's family and friends".

Then she said "Scotland was the first country in the world to introduce guidelines on head injuries in sport".

Liz said that Nicola's response to her letter on this subject made mention of updates. "Have the updates taken place?"
(The Medical expert panel asks for Standard approach and we have differences from Sport to Sport).

The FM said that she would take Liz's questions on board and that they should continue to have dialogue.


  1. Many thanks for this. No easy task. Have shared widely.

  2. Many thanks for this. No easy task. Have shared widely.