ShareThis

.

.

25 September 2019

S5M-17805 Product Recall Database

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-17805, in the name of John Mason, on the need for a product recall database. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes that the UK Government has served Whirlpool, which manufactures domestic appliances, with a notice to recall faulty tumble dryers; understands that this comes four years after the company issued a safety warning regarding some of its Creda, Hotpoint and Indesit devices; believes that research by the consumer charity, Electrical Safety First, suggests that only 10 to 20% of recalled products are actually returned or repaired, largely due to consumers being unaware of the recalls, and notes calls for the creation of a centrally-managed product recall database, which could allow consumers in Shettleston and across the country to check that their appliances are safe.

18:16
... ... ...
18:33

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

The subject in hand is a substantial issue. I am trying to work out whether I am one of the 37 per cent of MSPs who register their appliances. The answer is, “Sometimes I does and sometimes I doesn’t.” I suspect that that is true of most people, because it depends on all sorts of random things. Without question, there is difficulty in tracking down white goods that are in consumers’ premises or being carried around with them—there have been recalls of mobile phones—that require to be recalled.

I will address some of the practical issues, which might be helpful for what happens in future. It is all very well publishing lists of serial numbers, but it is not very obvious where the serial number is on a lot of white goods. If it is anywhere, it is probably at the back, covered in three to five years’ of grime. A person has to haul out the equipment to find the number and they then find that there are four or five labels saying different things with different numbers on them. Which one is the serial number? I have a little suggestion: it would be very helpful for the serial number to be on the front of a device and in a font size such that someone of my age can read it.

We also have an issue with finding people. We could require—I am not trying to identify whether the responsibility lies with Westminster or us; that is neither here nor there—the recording of all but the last digit of a postcode of the person buying a white good. Why would that be useful? First, by excluding the last digit, there would be a big enough cohort so that individuals could not be identified. A full postcode is between one and 100 people—well, one and 99, strictly speaking. Typically, recording all but the last digit would give a cohort of 750. If we know that X number are in that cohort, we can find them. Also, if we know that, overall, we have managed to find 10 per cent of the sales, we do not know about nine of them, and we can then go and do something about that.

Statistically, there are ways in which we can use information to home in on where the people that we do not know about are likely to be. Advertising to everybody in the population is very expensive and ineffective, and there would be difficulties if only a tiny percentage—the number may be right at the decimal point—of people have the goods. There is work that statisticians and others could do on the issue.

Having a database would certainly be useful. Many people would simply not use electronic databases. However, it would be useful to the citizens advice bureaux, retailers and service engineers and to MSPs when they are answering their constituents’ queries, or even taking the unsolicited opportunity to make comments to people.

It is disappointing that goods have to be recalled, but it is inevitable that that will happen. When engineering is involved, a proportion of a product will inevitably fail at some point in its life for reasons that are unexpected. I have been contacted in relation to my car. The manufacturers knew where I was, so they could write to me. When it comes to white goods, the situation is much more difficult.

18:37

S5M-19025 Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame): The next item of business is the stage 3 debate on motion S5M-19025, in the name of Roseanna Cunningham, on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill.

17:10
... ... ...
17:38

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I start by wishing John Scott well. I hope that he will be sitting beside me when we look at the climate change plan update, because his wise counsel—which is not to say that I agree unequivocally with everything that he says—will be important at that stage.

Farming has been an important part of the discussion, and John Scott has contributed to that debate, as have others across the political parties. I very much welcome the fact that we have, as a result of agreement to a Maurice Golden amendment, incorporated nitrogen accounting. That will help us to get a proper understanding of farming emissions.

We have had a bit of talk about the role of young activists in relation to climate change, which is entirely proper, but I want to take us back to something that I have not heard mentioned this afternoon, even though it is of equal and immediate importance. It is that this is a feminist issue as well as a youth issue.

In parts of the world, particularly in Africa, where aridification is taking place because of the diminution of rainfall and the drying up of wells, it is generally the women who are the farmers and who do the hard labour. They now have to walk many times the distances that they previously had to walk to get water or kindling. It is a feminist issue and it affects women across the world.

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Green): I agree, but does Stewart Stevenson think that maintaining the existing road-building programme will be a positive or negative contribution to women in sub-Saharan Africa?

Stewart Stevenson:If sub-Saharan Africa had better roads, I suspect that climate change would be less of a feminist issue, but I expect that that is not really the point that John Finnie was trying to make.

Patrick Harvie correctly said that the Greens advocate a 50 per cent target for 2030. However, we also need to think about the fact that there have been several changes to the baseline, which has added to the inventory of CO2. We therefore need to translate the targets that were set in 2009 to what they would be against today’s baseline: they would be rather different. In 2015, we added another greenhouse gas—nitrogen trifluoride—to the inventory. There have been various changes that affect how the numbers work, so the situation is a bit more complex than we sometimes like to pretend.

I also want to talk briefly about unanimity. I strongly believe that we must be driven by scientific consensus and not by individual scientists who are at one edge or the other of the argument. That is not because those scientists are wrong—they might be correct, within their areas of research. However, the consensus that comes through the IPCC—I welcome the report that came out today—will drive further change, as it must. If we start to pick scientists who take extreme positions, valid though they are, we will allow others to choose scientists who disagree with the whole agenda altogether. That is why we should always go with the consensus.

There is nothing to stop us exceeding scientists’ recommendations, so I encourage my Green Party colleagues to think carefully about withholding their support for the bill while continuing to campaign for more.

I will conclude by saying that, like others, I have been inspired by Greta Thunberg and the millions of young activists around the world. When I cast my vote shortly, I will be thinking of her and her young companions. I will be deid before it all matters: they have to inherit a world that is worth inheriting.

17:42

24 September 2019

SM5-18951 Common Frameworks

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame): The next item of business is a Finance and Constitution Committee debate on motion SM5-18951, in the name of Bruce Crawford, on the committee’s report on common frameworks. I invite members who wish to speak to press their request-to-speak buttons now, and I call Bruce Crawford to speak to and move the motion.

15:01
... ... ...
16:13

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

It is a shame that Willie Rennie is temporarily out of the chamber. On 24 May 1916, Herbert Asquith appointed the Welsh wizard, Lloyd George, to solve the problem of home rule in Ireland. That went well. The Liberals might have been on the case for 100 years, but we have not seen very much delivered on it.

If my time as a minister 10 years and more ago taught me anything, it was that the jurisdictions in these islands can work together very well when they require to do so. Arrangements existed in my ministerial responsibilities whereby I had the right of veto. That was exercised responsibly on one occasion, and members never heard about it in Parliament because they did not need to. I found myself signing off the sale of land in Birmingham on one occasion because the British Waterways Board was a cross-border authority. Therefore, we can work together perfectly well. As a minister, I also represented the UK at the Polish Government economic conference. There are plenty of case histories and opportunities for working together. We sometimes hear rather more about the difficulties.

The report’s committee is excellent and I commend it, as others have. I want to go into one or two areas regarding paragraphs 42 and 43, which are on different possible approaches to the environment. Those differences are perfectly reasonable, because the different geography and climate north and south of the border might need different solutions. In the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee this morning, we talked about invasive species. The nature of that problem in Scotland is perhaps different from that in England or Wales. Therefore, it is not too surprising that there might be rather different solutions.

We have heard a lot from colleagues of all political persuasions in the Parliament about the role for Parliament, and I broadly agree with the way that Murdo Fraser characterised the need for that role. The committee dealt with that area in particular. Its report has six paragraphs of recommendations, which end by saying:

“We recommend that Parliament should have a formal role in relation to the process”.

I am quite content to support that.

Paragraph 172 refers to the need to involve external stakeholders in the development of common frameworks, and the report also refers to the need to involve them in the compliance mechanisms that relate to common frameworks. I would go a little bit further and say that we should look at the requirements of stakeholders. My constituency and parliamentary committee interests lead me to look at both fisheries and agricultural support.

On agricultural support, it is not surprising that we need different implementations of the EU common framework, and we would expect to have different implementations of a UK-wide common framework, because in Scotland, 85 per cent of our farming is in less favoured areas, whereas in England, only 15 per cent is, and 85 per cent is not. Therefore, the geography and the nature of the land that is farmed necessitate different solutions, not only in legislative, administrative and regulatory terms, but in the financial structures of support for industries in the agriculture sector.

On fisheries, we have the sea of opportunity—I led the debate on that subject not long after the 2016 referendum. If we depart from the common fisheries policy, we are clearly going to have the opportunity of controlling the area out to 200 miles from our coast. However, we cannot forget that Scotland-registered fishing boats will fish in other nations’ waters—England’s, Norway’s and those elsewhere. Therefore, we need a set of rules that apply to our interests, which may be somewhat different from those south of the border, where shellfish are one of the most important catches.

There is nothing unusual in requiring different solutions for different jurisdictions, while agreeing what we need to do within a common framework.

One of the important things about common frameworks is not just the rules but the funding streams. The common agricultural policy gives us a view of the funding for five, six or seven years ahead. We need a similar degree of certainty in the policy areas that I have spoken about, and I hope that we will find a way to achieve that.

16:18

11 September 2019

S5M-18571 Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame): The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-18571, in the name of Alasdair Allan, on the 10th anniversary of Scottish food and drink fortnight. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament celebrates the 10th anniversary of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, which this year runs from 31 August to 15 September 2019; welcomes the aims of the fortnight to encourage more people to buy, eat and promote Scottish food and drink, and have as many people as possible taking part in the nation’s biggest food and drink celebration, with events taking place throughout the country; acknowledges the growth in Scotland’s food and drink sector and the contribution it makes to the economy, with a record £14.8 billion turnover and £6.3 billion in exports; acknowledges the ambition of the national food and drink strategy, Ambition 2030, to double the value of the industry by 2030, and believes that Scotland has some of the most popular protected food name products in Europe, including Stornoway Black Pudding PGI, which make a unique contribution to what it considers its food and drink success story.

17:04
...
17:22

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I congratulate Alasdair Allan on securing the debate. I add to his litany of constituency interests, as I first had spoots at Northton. They were harvested within a mile of where I was eating them—that is cutting down food miles. My constituency also has unusual and interesting things in it; it is where extra virgin rapeseed oil came to the fore, because of one of the farmers in my area.

I, too, offer congratulations on the 10th anniversary of Scottish food and drink fortnight. Of course, Scotland has wonderful seafood, Scotch whisky and much more. My constituency has multiple fishing ports and farms, and it even has four whisky distilleries: Knockdhu, Inchgower, Glenglassaugh and Macduff, which provide high-quality products and high-quality jobs.

Scotland has four of the largest fishing ports in the UK, and we account for almost all of the UK’s aquaculture production. Nearly 5,000 people work on Scotland-registered fishing vessels and 8,000 work in seafood processing—in both cases, many of those jobs are in rural areas. The Scotch whisky industry employs 10,000 people in Scotland, including 7,000 people in rural areas. Those are big numbers, and continued growth could make them even bigger. The efforts of ambition 2030 stand to be recognised, because the contributions that the food and drink industries make to our economy are heading in a most positive direction. When we eat and drink their products, we are eating and drinking the most healthy food on earth.

Our food exports have increased by 111 per cent since 2007, to £1.5 billion, with salmon and seafood leading the way. Capital investment is also going up. Across Scotland, there are improved distilleries, new distilleries, refettled distilleries and new visitor attractions. Farmed salmon is up by 16 per cent and Scotch whisky has increased in value by £153 million, to more than £4 billion. Its export value has grown by 7.8 per cent, with 40 bottles of whisky exported every second—that will be 9,600 bottles during this speech.

Our food and drink sector deserves to be toasted and celebrated. Scottish food and drink fortnight is an ideal expression of that, and I encourage the public to join in. I listened with interest to what Finlay Carson said. He mentioned the Stranraer oyster festival, which I was going to cite as an example of what is done in the south. The spirit of Speyside festival, in the north, is among the events that take place in my area.

It is important that we continue to support local food and drink. The sector is a massive success story for Scotland. It is diverse and omnipresent, and I am looking forward to tucking into some Scottish products later this evening, to augment the Scotland-sourced tacos that I had at lunch time.

17:25

S5M-18778 Citizens Assembly of Scotland

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-18778, in the name of Michael Russell, on the citizens assembly of Scotland.

15:11
... ... ...
16:01

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

We have heard interesting contributions from Conservative members. Adam Tomkins said that we in Parliament do not have all the answers, and I agree with him. However, Rachael Hamilton said that Parliament is the citizens assembly. Those are fundamentally different points of view, so there are obviously differences among views in the Tory party. We in the SNP have robust debates and ways of dealing with different points of view.

I want to start with the character and experience of one of the conveners of the assembly. I know one of them, but not the other. When David Martin was first elected as an MEP in the 1980s, he came to the Bank of Scotland to meet senior executives. I remember sitting round the lunch table—we were hospitable to him—to hear his questions and his responses, and the issues that he was raising with the bank. That was more than 30 years ago. The first thing that David Martin brings to the table is objectivity. The second is experience and the third is honesty in his political opinions—which are not my political opinions, but come from a different tradition.

If we attack the citizens assembly, we attack David Martin and his substantial record of public service, his preparedness to serve the public good and his preparedness to tackle the democratic deficit, or emergency, that undoubtedly exists in these islands. Today’s court judgment is just one part of the continuing failure of the UK’s democratic systems to solve major problems.

I absolutely support the Green Party proposal, which has been supported by Conservative members, to involve citizens more on the issue of climate change. I progressed the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill in 2009, for which we had unanimous support: I hope that we will get such support again. In an era of post-truth politics, in which climate change is an issue and globalisation is a matter of debate, our citizens must be part of deciding the future.

Who is taking a risk by establishing the citizens assembly? In Parliament, we have a majority in favour of independence. Those who support that objective—which is part of a wider agenda and does not stand on its own—are taking the risk that the citizens assembly, which is independent of Government and is chaired by a lifelong opponent of the political philosophy that I espouse, could come up with a conclusion that will make us desperately uncomfortable.

I believe that we will have convincing evidence and arguments that will lead the assembly to a different place. However, those of us who support Scotland’s independence are taking the risk. The fact that the Tories and the Liberal Democrats will not take such risks is very revealing.

We have an opportunity to recalibrate how our democracy works. What is before the assembly lays out the way in which to address issues, but the assembly is the master of its own destiny. The Liberal Democrat amendment does not disagree with the assembly’s remit, so I invite Liberal Democrats to endorse the motion in their concluding remarks. The word “independence” appears nowhere in it.

The UK’s general relationship with the devolved nations is changing; in England, there are huge tensions across geography and people’s different experiences in different parts. Citizens assemblies can be important in allowing countries to consider how they take themselves forward.

In Ireland, the removal of the eighth amendment to the constitution was a suitable subject for a citizens assembly to contribute to the subsequent referendum debate—and it was very successful. The referendum followed closely the recommendations of the assembly but—more to the point—participants said that it made them consider the impact of a proposal in ways that they never would have done before. It is important to rely on the deep reflections of fellow citizens who come without the baggage that every party politician here inevitably has. That brings honesty and openness to the deliberative process, so I congratulate our friends in Ireland for showing us the way to re-ignite thoughtful dialogue.

It is worth considering Brexit. If, three years ago, we had taken forward the post-2016 referendum deliberations via a citizens assembly, we would not have got ourselves tied up in the cul-de-sac that was created by the Prime Minister in January 2017, which has contributed to the failure of the political system to come to a meaningful conclusion.

This is not really a debate about the proposals from the Government for an assembly; it is about the credibility of David Martin—a man with whom I have often disagreed but whom I continue to respect.

16:07

5 September 2019

S5M-18695 European Union Exit (No Deal)

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh): The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-18695, in the name of Michael Russell, on avoiding a no-deal exit from the European Union.

14:53
... ... ...
16:09

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

The Independent newspaper reports that

“some loud bloke who stunk of booze yelling at us”

is a description of how number 10 attempted to persuade 21 former Tory MPs to vote for Prime-Minister-in-name-only Johnson’s plans. The New York Times today describes this week as “a sobering week” for the Prime Minister—if only.

The cabinet secretary and others have confirmed that the EU has seen nothing by way of proposals from the UK Government.

Our colleague Donald Cameron is a serious man, with a demonstrated ability to think through complicated issues and break them down into solvable bite-size chunks—the attributes of the Scottish advocate down the ages. However, today’s amendment in his name falls substantially short of what his pupil master would have required of him in his days of training as an advocate.

Proper parliamentary procedures continue in the Scottish Parliament—they have been abandoned by a Prime Minister who is yet to win any vote in the house of which he should remember that he is a servant. Here, our duty is to offer sober-minded dissection of even the most obtuse proposal, so I will consider the three planks of Mr Cameron’s amendment.

First, we are asked to respect the referendum result. There has always been a fundamental conflict between the 2014 and 2016 referendums. A key reason why the argument for Scottish independence was lost in 2014 was the Scottish people’s attachment—later proved, in the 2016 vote—to our membership of the EU. The no campaign asserted that Scotland could remain in the EU only if it rejected independence. My side of the argument then lacked the ammunition that would convincingly rebut that—now provably implausible—argument.

In passing, I note that many of my constituents see opportunity—even a sea of opportunity—in leaving the common fisheries policy, which is a policy that only the SNP has always opposed. [Interruption.] The Tories had better keep listening. However, many of my constituents also see the ruin that awaits our fish processors as a result of Theresa May’s choice of the method of exit.

At 8.58 this morning, I received an email from the largest fish processing firm, which I am able to quote on the record. I will read out exactly what it says:

“The Scottish Conservatives today in Edinburgh Parliament will hit their normal drum of stating that the Conservatives are ‘champions’ of the Scottish Fishing Industry ... From my end I am very clear: leaving the EU without a deal will cause long term damage to the fishing industry, both the catching and onshore sector and will result in a considerable economic loss to our coastal communities. A ‘no deal Exit’ has to be avoided at all cost.”

It goes on:

“I wish you well in the debate ... all sectors of the Scottish economy will be adversely affected and damaged through the actions of a Conservative group of UK Ministers driven by a right wing ideology. It has to be stopped.”

That is from the fishing industry—the one area in Scotland that might have been expected to benefit from a proper exit. The industry clearly sees that what the Tories are progressing will not benefit it.

The conflict between the two referendums defeats the argument behind the first plank of the Tory amendment. The second plank is the call for a “negotiated exit”. We know that there is no negotiation, so no negotiated exit is in prospect. Mr Johnson is not negotiating. No proposals have been tabled. My long history of business negotiation has persuaded me that going into a negotiation with a blank sheet of paper and waving that paper under the noses of the people at the other side of the table does not progress the negotiation.

It is clear that Johnson has spent too much time with Trump and is adopting Trump’s relationship with truth, rationality and clarity.

On the third plank of the Tory amendment, I do not know how one reaches a deal when one refuses to allow civil servants to engage meaningfully with the EU and politicians carry blank sheets of paper to Brussels.

As Yogi Berra said:

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.”

As a lawyer, Donald Cameron will be familiar with the saying:

“A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”

It is perhaps time to update that old saying: a man who journeys without a map will never know his destination.

The Tories: clueless; leaderless; mapless. The Tories: beyond reason; beyond parody; beyond hope.

16:15

Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP