07 September 2005

Subject Debate: Scottish Executive's Programme

Scottish Parliament

Wednesday 7 September 2005

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:30]

Scottish Executive's Programme

Resumed debate.

The Presiding Officer (Mr George Reid): Good morning. This morning we continue the debate on the Scottish Executive's programme.


... ... ...


Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): The First Minister made justice and respect the watchwords for his Government's programme for the coming year. However, across the chamber and throughout the debate, today's theme has clearly and properly been children. That is the thread that links almost all of today's speeches. The SNP entirely agrees with that emphasis. It does the Parliament credit that we look to those who will live in our future and dwell less on the past. Aims, objectives and targets for the future—as we can see them—are the essence of today's discussion because our future depends on how well children are prepared for their future. However, much of the programme is little more than a palimpsest—a writing over of much that has gone before.

As ever when he speaks on children, Scott Barrie made an interesting, engaging and widely enjoyed speech. I hope that he continues to do that, because he has knowledge and experience that few members share.

Peter Peacock, as ever, struck a balance between selling the programme and conceding that there are areas in which challenges remain. In particular, I focus on his statement that the gap between rich and poor remains too great. Everything that he and his colleagues do to close that gap will have support from SNP members. We encourage him to make the greatest possible efforts in that area.

I was especially pleased by the reference to mental health, an important issue in which Adam Ingram, who is sitting behind me, and I take a particular interest.

Euan Robson came up with a useful catchphrase that we should retain—hidden talent. He spoke with real passion about those, particularly among our young, who are currently excluded from making a contribution to our society. We must focus on them, as they are the people whom we must re-engage. Doing so will take money, but it will also take much more: engagement on our part. The Executive has some way to go to convince us that we are on track.

Duncan McNeil, the most improved speaker of recent times—it is a double-edged sword—made an impressive bid to be recognised as the boilermaker's Jacob Bronowski. I wish him well in his future endeavours in that regard.

I turn to one or two issues that are not included in what is before us and that are signal omissions on which we should focus. The First Minister's statement is but a keyhole view of what is planned. The draft budget for 2006-07 gave us a broader picture. Mike Rumbles will be particularly interested to note that there are eight targets for health and community care but that, for the fourth year in a row, there is no target for dentistry. Not only that, but there are a mere 120 words—a single paragraph—relating to the subject, on page 79 of a substantial document. If we doubt the Executive's commitment to making a real difference on dentistry, we have the evidence in front of us.

Many of the changes that have been made in the health service over the past year are probably well intentioned, but flawed in implementation. I see no word anywhere about NHS 24. I say to Mr Kerr that the idea has merit. However, in the absence of an electronic patient record that is available whenever a patient contacts the health service, to inform and guide efficiently staff of NHS 24 in particular, the introduction of NHS 24 in its present form has made the health service less efficient, although it may be more effective. The paragraph in the draft budget for 2006-07 on the single patient record—it appears on page 80—is even shorter than that on dentistry.

I close by stating the obvious. The Executive's programme has been well and truly rumbled. Mike Rumbles adumbrated a Liberal-free Government in future. I come from a Liberal family. My father's cousin was in Lloyd George's Cabinet in 1916. My great-uncle was Lord Provost of Edinburgh 75 years ago and my father was Lloyd George's election agent when he stood for rector of the University of Edinburgh. I have arranged for a membership application to be posted to Mike Rumbles, so that he can cross this way as well.


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

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP