24 November 2016

S5M-02686 Island Communities (Support)

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The first item of business this afternoon is a debate on motion S5M-02686, in the name of Humza Yousaf, on supporting and strengthening Scotland’s island communities.
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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I rise as a member of the only political party to be represented in the Parliament that owns its own island. That island is Eilean Mòr MhicCharmaig, which is off the coast of Argyll. We were gifted it 30 or 40 years ago, I think. Over many years, members of the party have gone there and started to rebuild the one building that is on it. The island does not count for very much—it is not populated or economically valuable.

I propose that, economically, our islands are the most valuable part of Scotland. I know that that might seem a slightly challenging and interesting thing to say. We think of the islands as soaking up our resources and being subsidised by us but, if we think about them in a different way, the contrary view is true, and the most valuable island of all—uninhabited as it is—is Rockall. Rockall is so valuable because its existence as part of our territory is responsible for our having about a quarter of our offshore economic area. With other islands, it gives us the opportunity to harvest the seas, including the fish, and to access oil.

Andy Wightman: Does Mr Stevenson claim that Scotland should have sovereignty over Rockall? It is a disputed territory, and it was the subject of the last and most recent act of colonialism by the British Government.

Stewart Stevenson: If I recall correctly, Rockall came into the UK in 1955—I will be corrected if necessary. I think that, de facto, it is accepted that it creates that position.

I make the general point that every part of Scotland makes a unique contribution, and we should not forget that the islands make their own unique contributions.

The minister referred to a visit to the sun-kissed island of Raasay. I must say that my greatest memory from my visit there, which was thoroughly enjoyable, is of the midges. The population of Raasay remember with some horror Dr Green, who owned the island and kept it and the economy in thrall. That situation was repeated elsewhere—for example, when Malcolm Potier owned Gigha, the island could not make progress.

Islands have been one of the areas where community buyouts have transformed prospects. South Uist is an example; the island of Gigha is another.

For my part—I have just done some quick arithmetic—I appear to have been to 20 populated islands, which is far from the whole panoply of our islands. My father was born and brought up on Eilean na Muc, which is of course not really an island—in English, we know it as the Black Isle. Indeed, not all things that are called islands are islands; Harris and Lewis are examples of that. Many characteristics of bits of the mainland are also characteristics of islands.

I want to talk a wee bit about transport, because I have hobby-horses that I want to get off my chest, particularly on aviation. Many of our islands are served by small aircraft that use aviation gas, or avgas as it is called in the trade. Avgas is VAT-able, so the island services in the Orkneys and the Shetlands, and those out of Oban to the islands, have to pay VAT on their fuel. That is inherently unfair, because the big aircraft do not pay VAT on aircraft fuel. We should look at that issue.

Similarly, we have restrictions on the aircraft that can serve our islands, which makes it more difficult to expand air services. In Norway, single-engine aircraft can operate full services in instrument conditions and service very small communities, but that is not permitted in the UK, even though the American aviation authority shows that the safety records of single-engine aircraft under a maximum take-off weight of 4,700kg are better than the safety records of multi-engine aircraft in that category.

David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) (Lab): I understood that the Civil Aviation Authority was changing the regulations for single-piloted planes, which would benefit the Highlands and Islands.

Stewart Stevenson: The CAA already applies an exemption for single-piloted planes in Orkney and Shetland. That is helpful, but single-engine planes would transform the prospects of some places that are not on the network.

I am conscious of your strictures, Presiding Officer, but let me take a wee bit of an issue with Donald Cameron. On the issue of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise, he sees gloom, but I see opportunity. I am the only constituency member to have both Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise operating in my constituency. [Interruption.] I beg your pardon; I have been corrected—they both serve Mr Gibson’s constituency, too.

The people who are in the Scottish Enterprise bit want to be in the HIE bit. If we can transfer some of HIE’s culture and practice to Scottish Enterprise, we will end up in a much better place than we have been in. I do not think that it is gloom and doom. I will campaign for the board meetings and the headquarters to be in Inverness and not Glasgow or Edinburgh.


17 November 2016

S5M-02511 Innovation

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame): The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-02511, in the name of Shirley-Anne Somerville, on how Scotland’s innovation centre programme is driving innovation in Scotland.

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The Deputy Presiding Officer: I call Stewart Stevenson. We still have a little time in hand.


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

I will try to squeeze it in under half an hour, Presiding Officer.

I am doing the usual innovative thing in relation to my speech. I have random things written on bits of paper here. It is quite illustrative to think of how public key cryptography, which I referred to last week in debate, came into being.

One of the original authors of public key cryptography was a guy called Ron Rivest. He was the mathematician on the team. He had a very restless night when he did not really sleep very much, turning over in his bed, because they were trying to find a one-way mathematical algorithm that worked forwards but not backwards. Do not bother to understand: just take it from me.

He was walking downstairs to make his breakfast in the morning. He got down to the bottom and thought, “I had the answer.” So he had to go back upstairs and walk back down again. Then he remembered what the idea was, which was a matrix transformation, if you really want to know.

He sat down at the breakfast table and he wrote the answer down. He wrote the paper, and it took him 30 minutes to come up with the answer to the problem that he had been wrestling with for a year.

It is illustrative of the innovation process because, although it took 30 minutes to write the answer down from it springing into his mind to his completing the paper, it took a lifetime of preparation for all the intellectual detritus that was floating around in his brain to coalesce in a way that actually produced something new, innovative and required.

We probably all have favourite books. Edward Mountain’s would probably be Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”, in which Sun Tzu postulates nine territories for military engagement; number 3 is contentious ground, and the first of the battalions to occupy it is the one that will command the outcome. In innovation, that is exactly the ground that we are debating. Sun Tzu dates a very long way back. My favourite inspirational book, Fred P Brooks’s “The Mythical Man-month”, is much more modern, as it was published in 1974.

It is worth thinking about the character of innovators. The best innovation is disruptive and very often unwelcome because it challenges and changes the status quo. Innovators are, by nature, anarchists. Of course, innovation does not always go the way that the innovator thought it would. When Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the telephone in 1876, politicians got involved, because communication was the purview of the Royal Mail. The postmaster general of the time, in reaction to the invention of the telephone, said that there was no need for it because of a superfluity of telegram boys. It was considered that communication worked well enough.

The other side of it was that Alexander Graham Bell did not think that he had invented the telephone. He thought that he was inventing a broadcast device. That is often the way with innovation. In modern times, we all have mobile phones with facilities for texting. It is worth remembering that the text facility that is part of the Groupe Spécial Mobile system that underpinned the first digital telephones was put in there to allow the communications company to send messages to telephone users about conditions in the network.

Jamie Greene: Would Mr Stevenson agree that much of the innovation and changes in technology that we see today has been driven by military research? A lot of what we use in our daily lives originated in military use but was converted into everyday use. What are his views on that?

Stewart Stevenson: The member is almost certainly right. For example, when, in 1963, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration put out a contract for various bits of what would become the moon lander programme, NASA could provide only 1.4 W of electricity for the computer for navigating the moon lander. That was a quasi-military requirement that could be met only by Rockwell—the successful bidder—producing the first integrated chip, although there had been integrated circuits in the 1940s. That is why we have computers in the sense that we have them today. The member is absolutely correct, but I do not think we should discount the fact that civilians can come up with some pretty good ideas.

Ivan McKee: Would the member agree that military spending is an extremely expensive way of publicly funding innovation programmes?

Stewart Stevenson: The member is absolutely correct. However, I refer to my previous response. We have to acknowledge that innovation in war is very important.

I want to talk about another innovation that came from war. A gentleman called Tommy Flowers, who was a General Post Office engineer at the Dollis Hill research laboratory in northern London, got posted to what is now the Government Communications Headquarters, which was then the base that was trying to break the Enigma codes that the Germans used for their military communications.

Bob Doris (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP): Will the member give way?

Stewart Stevenson: I will develop it a wee bit, if I may, Presiding Officer, depending on how much time you choose to give me.

An even more horrendously difficult machine was the Lorenz machine, which was used only by Adolf Hitler and the navy and was far more difficult than the Enigma machine. Alan Turing came up with thoughts of how that could be dealt with but Tommy Flowers, who was a relatively small cog in the big machine, said that he had used thermionic valves to build circuits that would do switching and that he could build a computer.

Up to that point, they had been using things called bombes, which were mechanical devices for breaking Enigma that the Poles had developed in the run up to the war. Tommy Flowers said that he could do it but he was forbidden. However, he was a natural anarchist and he went away and, at his own expense, got 1,500 electronic valves—finding them was a terrific thing to do during wartime—and built Colossus Mark 1, which was the first real electronic computer. It was quite good, but he built another one—Colossus Mark 2—and he delivered it on 1 June 1944. They broke the first Lorenz messages in the 24 hours after getting that first machine made by an anarchist innovator. The message that was given to Eisenhower on 4 June said that the Germans were not moving troops into Normandy so it was safe to land there, but there was a concentration of troops in one place, so the Allies moved one of the landing points. If Tommy Flowers had not done that, it is thought that the Normandy landings would not have been successful because they would have encountered severe resistance.

We knew nothing about Tommy Flowers until many decades later, because he was covered by the Official Secrets Act. The story goes on, however. Although he had paid for the development of the computer himself, the Government refused to refund him. Eventually, it gave him £1,000, by which time it no longer mattered and he shared it with the rest of the team.

I will say 10 words. The important thing about innovation is that innovators have time to think, space to think and, more importantly, people of different minds, not the same mind, with whom they can think collaboratively. If innovation centres do anything, they must do all those things.


15 November 2016

S5M-02488 Single Market and Trade (European Union Referendum)

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh): The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-02488, in the name of Keith Brown, on the single market and trade and the European Union referendum.

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

I start by saying gently to the absent Neil Findlay that it is not helpful to suggest that anyone here would describe our friends and neighbours south of the border as “nasty people”. My English relatives and my friends in England remain my friends however they may have voted on whatever subject. Indeed, my American relatives and friends also remain friends. Such intemperate language devalues and contaminates his broader arguments.

We have heard from almost everybody on the Conservative benches, and from Jackie Baillie, numbers about Scotland’s exports to England. Let us examine where those numbers come from and what credibility we should place on them.

I start with a paper that was produced by the previous Labour-Liberal Executive in 2005. Regarding those numbers, it says:

“The main difficulty arises because taxes are collected at the UK level, and also since Scotland is a region of the UK ... there is no legal requirement for companies to report financial information at sub-UK level”.

It goes on to say that the global connections survey is difficult

“for both practical and conceptual reasons”.

It is difficult to say where things are exported.

Jackie Baillie rose—

Stewart Stevenson: Let me continue—I may give way if time permits.

I turn to 2013, and a paper that the UK Government produced in the run-up to the referendum in 2014—“Scotland analysis: Business and microeconomic framework.” Indeed, that paper quotes the £45.5 billion. I am prepared to agree, by the way, that the figure probably has 11 digits in it; that is probably correct. If we look one paragraph below, there is a neat little footnote that says that it may be

“£35.651 million lower than the estimate ... in Scotland’s Global Connections Survey”.

Jackie Baillie rose—

Stewart Stevenson: I have another four to do before I get there.

Jackie Baillie: I am patient.

Stewart Stevenson: That footnote illustrates precisely the imprecision about the way in which we produce the figures.

Jackie Baillie rose—

Stewart Stevenson: If time permits.

The “Export Statistics Scotland” 2014 report, produced by statisticians in Scotland, interestingly provides information that perhaps illustrates where some of the difficulties may arise. The report points out that the Netherlands is Scotland’s second biggest export market, and the biggest in the EU. That seems rather surprising, because the footnote says that the Netherlands and Belgium are consistently reported as our “top trading partners”; however, those countries contain “key ports” where many of our exports are exported.

The report goes on to deal with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs figures for regional exports of goods. Here, it gets really interesting. In the figures for the various countries of the UK, there is—and I quote—an “unknown region” that exported £37.3 billion. That is quite interesting; if that were to be attributed to Scotland, our exports beyond the UK exceed the £45 billion-plus that are represented. Could that be the case? Actually, it is quite likely, because that is the oil region, and it is only by omitting oil that one can get the result that one does.

Let us turn to the business of ports—I say to Jackie Baillie that I am now out of time. The Rotterdam effect is an idea that is so pervasive that it is part of the A-level syllabus in England and Wales, and I have before me a study note about it. The issue concerns the fact that an export is booked at the last point at which it touches the ground. Given that Scotland does not have many ports that are equivalent to Felixstowe, Zeebrugge or Rotterdam, most of our exports touch the ground and are counted somewhere else.

We need to be conscious about the numbers that have been presented. I do not say that they are wrong; it is just that, on the basis of the evidence that is before us, I cannot possibly say that they are right, and there is evidence that suggests that they might actually be the other way up from what we are seeing.

Presiding Officer, it has been an absolute delight to have the audience listen to me here today. I hope that we will talk about more numbers as the debate progresses.


10 November 2016

S5M-02418 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education and Training Strategy

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-02418, in the name of Shirley-Anne Somerville, on the Scottish Government’s consultation on a strategy for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and training.

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

You asked about block-chain, Presiding Officer. It would take rather longer than five minutes to explain, but I will say that one commercial product that you may be familiar with that depends on block-chain technology is the electronic currency called bitcoin. I will leave that with you, Presiding Officer.

Ross Thomson—unfortunately he has left, but he can read this speech later—said that the Scots invented the steam engine. They did not—a guy called Hero, who was a Greek philosopher and thinker, invented the steam turbine in 100 AD. It is thought that he was building on ideas from 200 years before that. We Scots invented most things, but we can concede on one or two.

Richard Feynman has been mentioned: he was a terrific communicator and teacher. As a member of the commission that investigated the Challenger space shuttle disaster, he was gagged and not allowed to speak, but at the press conference, he was able to show what had happened without saying a single word. I have talked about that before—members can read about it in some of my old speeches.

I want briefly to pick up on the role of gender. When I started in computers in the 1960s, about 50 per cent of people who were working in programming were female. The reason was that working in computers was an unknown profession that was not sexy and did not draw people. Furthermore, the great heroes of computing are mostly female. Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, was Charles Babbage’s computer programmer for his analytical engine, which was a mechanical computer. She developed the first algorithm for computer programming, and algorithms are how we develop computer programmes today. Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was the person who created the way in which we now develop computer programmes, in particular using COBOL—common business-oriented language. She is also responsible for the term “computer bug”, which she used when a bug—an American word for moth—got trapped in the electromechanical contacts of a computer. Anyone who goes to the Smithsonian Institution can see the bug that Grace Hopper sellotaped into a laboratory notebook in 1944. The differentiation between male and female engagement in computing is a comparatively modern thing and I have no explanation for why it has happened.

I want to talk about education, but not in the way that it is being talked about now. I am an autodidact, which means that the gaps in my knowledge are entirely my fault and nobody else’s. I did have inspirational teachers, including Doc Inglis—a bluff Lancastrian who took my first-year class around the school searching for infinity. We looked in the dustbins and behind the blackboard. The point is that I remember that to this day—that is what inspiring teachers do. When I was in sixth year, he came and did his tax return with us, either to show us how little money he got paid for putting up with us or to show us that there is a practical application for being numerate.

People say that they are uncomfortable with numbers. Whenever people say that to me, I ask, “Do you think you could give me an 11-digit number?”, and they say, “Oh, no! Certainly not.” Then I ask, “Well—does this number mean anything to you? It’s zero, one, three, one, three, four, eight, five thousand.” People in the Scottish Parliament will, I hope, say “Oh, yes. I know that number. It’s the number for the Parliament switchboard.” Everybody has a basic ability to engage with numbers, but it is subconscious and we do not realise that we have it.

The key thing that is perhaps omitted from any numeracy strategy is ensuring that parents and families can create a number-friendly environment at the outset of children’s lives, which can make a difference to their attitudes to numbers at a later stage in their lives. There are science games that we can play, for example. My four-year-old goddaughter and I dissolved salt crystals because she had seen a rock crystal and asked what a crystal was, and I said “Here’s a crystal.” We dissolved it in water, then we put that in a pan, boiled it off and got the salt back. She went away and briefed her nursery class on that piece of science.

When she next comes to see me, we are going to do a couple of things. We will use a mixture of alum and vinegar to write a message on the white of a hard-boiled egg through the shell. The message can be read only when the shell is peeled off, and we will discuss why that matters. Next, because young children are always somewhat scatological, we will use human urine to write a message on a piece of paper; it will disappear but then reappear when we heat the bit of paper.

There are lots of things that we can engage kids with that will make a real difference to their attitude to numbers and to science, and equip them with a questioning mind. At the end of the day, I am not bothered about what knowledge anybody has; if they have a questioning mind, they are going to get knowledge themselves about what matters to them. That is what will ultimately make them successful in life. All the business about teaching STEM subjects to support the economy and so on is entirely secondary. I want to see successful, happy and engaged people in STEM subjects. If we, individually and as parents and families, help with that, we will make substantial progress. I hope that that is ultimately reflected in the strategy that we end up with.


03 November 2016

S5M-02281 Digital Strategy

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame): Good afternoon. The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-02281, in the name of Fergus Ewing, on realising Scotland’s full potential in a digital world.

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

I suspect that, by the end of my contribution, I may be judged either an iconoclast or a heretic. I am reminded that, on 23 July 1633, Jenny Geddes threw her stool at the minister in St Giles cathedral because of the first use of the Anglican “Book of Common Prayer”. She sought to overturn the prevailing norms and I will do something similar.

None of this digital stuff matters at all. We really should be debating communication and services because those are what we are trying to get to. Digital infrastructure is merely one of a range of ways in which we might support those broader aims.

Let us talk about communication. The Roman empire had a series of hilltop signalling posts that enabled a message to get from Londinium to Roma in a mere six hours. It did not work at night or if there was fog or low cloud, but a lot of the time it meant pretty good—for 2,000 or so years ago—communication from the outposts of the empire to the centre. That was one of the reasons why the Roman empire was so much more successful than the Greek empire, which was still sending messengers around with messages in cleft sticks or, alternatively, sending secret messages by shaving the head of a slave, writing the message on the slave’s head, waiting till their hair grew and then sending them off—it took months.

What we are actually talking about and interested in is communication. Digital communication has been around for a lot longer than we would think. The Scots invented the first fax machine in the 1840s—of course, it was probably analogue, rather than digital, and the technology that we use today is very different. The telegraph, which was the first real digital communication medium, was the key thing that opened up America by enabling communications to be taken to the west coast, which was the making of that big country whose future we will all be watching with interest next week. The first private telegraph line between Edinburgh and London was opened in 1868, when the Bank of Scotland—for which I worked for 30 years—installed a telegraph line between its head office on the Mound and its office in Broad Street in London. The telephone came to the bank a wee bit later, in 1882. Like banks everywhere, the Bank of Scotland was cautious about technology and the board approved the telephone only on the strict understanding that it not be used to conduct business.

Computers, too, have been around for quite a long time. Astrological computers were used in Arabia more than 1,000 years ago.

Edward Mountain (Highlands and Islands) (Con): I am always amazed at how much knowledge the member has, but I hope that we will move beyond faxes at some point and get to broadband. I encourage the member to address the question of how we will get broadband in the remote parts of the Highlands. Could that be weaved into his history?

Stewart Stevenson: We can certainly do that, of course. However, I will say, in part, that broadband is not necessarily digital. It is actually digital data that is carried on analogue signals. That is neither here nor there, but it illustrates why, when we talk about digital, we shouldnae get bogged down in all this techy stuff. What we actually want is for people to get access to services and good communications.

I am disappointed that Mike Rumbles is not here to hear me mildly correct one or two things that he said. I will start by addressing his statement that he lives next to a trunk road called the A97. That will be news to people, because there is no trunk road with that name. The A97 is a local road that is the responsibility of the local council. I will correct him on another point. He has been told on umpteen occasions that he is on an exchange-only line. So am I. My exchange is on fibre; I am not. I am counted in the 5 per cent that was mentioned, and so is Mr Rumbles. My brother lives in the centre of Edinburgh. He is on an exchange-only line, so he is in that 5 per cent, too. Different technology will be needed to connect people who are connected differently for reasons of history that go back more than 100 years to when the first telephones were installed in Scotland in the late 1870s—some of that wire is still around.

Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab): I take the member’s point that, in essence, we are not dealing with something new and that we are essentially talking about communication. However, the key difference is that we are facing a change in technology that is not just about communication but involves replacing every step that humans currently take as part of the supply chain across a broad range of things. That is new and it is something that we have never faced before and it must be addressed.

Stewart Stevenson: I agree with the member. He is absolutely correct. Of course, we have been through a similar change in the mechanical era, when we automated the looms. That had a hugely disruptive effect and we will see the same huge disruption again.

The big challenge involves ensuring that there is equality of access to the services that we can deliver via the internet. At the moment, rural areas are behind the pace. It is important that we get them on pace by 2021 and ensure that they are connected. However, as we develop the services, we are going to have to consider who gets the rewards for work that is productive. A lot of work will be of a social and cultural nature because the production of goods and the engagement in the delivery of services will employ a lower proportion of people as time goes on. That is a fact that we will all have to face, whatever our political views. We are going to have to have a debate about the wider effects of changing the way in which we run the modern world.

We also have to consider carefully—Patrick Harvie touched on the point but did not develop it—homogeneity versus diversity. If we get to a position where there are very few sources of services, a mistake or an error in the implementation of those service deliverers will have much wider effects. The first law of epigenetics says that the more highly optimised an organism is for one environment, the more adversely it is affected by a change in that environment. The bottom line for today’s debate is that we need diversity of supply and delivery. That way we can move forward together and I am sure that we will do so.

I hope that, in his future contributions, Mr Rumbles will take the opportunity to correct the almost totally misleading contribution that he has made today.


01 November 2016

S5M-01815 Cub Scouts 100th Anniversary

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame): The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-01815, in the name of Jeremy Balfour, on the 100th anniversary of the cub scouts. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes the 100th anniversary of the Cub Scouts; congratulates Scouts Scotland on a year of fun, adventure and friendship to celebrate the centenary; notes that Scouting began in 1907 and the adventure of Scouting was extended to a younger audience in 1916 when Wolf Cubs were introduced, which later became the Cub Scouts in 1967; notes that Cub Scouts across the country have been holding events to celebrate, including Craigalmond and Braid districts, which both held adventure camps at Bonaly Outdoor Centre with over 150 Cubs at each camp, and further notes that, on 16 December 2016, the date of the anniversary when Wolf Cubs first launched, Cubs across Scotland and the UK will host promise parties where Cubs and former Cubs will retake their promise and launch the next 100 years of Cub Scouts.

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

I will start by congratulating Jeremy Balfour on giving us the opportunity collectively and individually to revisit, in my case, the many decades that have passed since I was a boy scout.

A 100th anniversary is very significant. Let me like others wish them a very happy anniversary on 16 December, a very happy birthday.

The purpose of the cub scouts is to support young people in their personal development and empower them to contribute to their community. You may find this difficult to believe, but I was a shy, introverted young man when I joined the cubs—absolutely true, just believe me. The cub scouts were a very important part of my personal and social development.

I learned lots of useful skills: how to make a tinker’s oven, so that you could cook a rabbit by coating it in clay, digging a hole, sticking it in the hole, putting a fire on top of it and coming back an hour later and deliciously eating said rabbit. This was prefaced by how to cook a potato by throwing it on a fire and then peeling the burnt bits off afterwards, a start to a culinary expedition that I have continued throughout my life with no success whatsoever, as my wife would tell me.

I have the scars, physical but fortunately not mental, on my body, like so many other cub scouts. They are not, as in Jeremy Balfour’s case, on my knee but on the end of my tongue. I had been tied up and I was hopping across the floor. Someone pulled the rope around my legs while I was in mid-air, causing me to pole-axe and, when my chin hit the floor, my tongue was impaled on my front teeth. The scar is still there; you can come and see it if you wish.

Baden-Powell, who brought the idea of scouting from South Africa and his experiences there, has inspired generations of cubs, scouts, guides and so on.

Corey Tocher, a cub scout leader in Peterhead, exemplifies the spirit of the movement. Just a few months ago, Corey travelled down to London to donate stem cells for the Anthony Nolan trust. He has made a donation that might save somebody’s life. His values and the values of the scout movement are part of him and of all who are in his cub pack. Those values translate into a way of life. The promise, which was originally Christian, now encompasses people of all faiths and those of none. The scout movement now allows girls to join the scouts.

The scout law states:

“A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts.”

It continues:

“A Scout has self-respect and respect for others.”

In my time, I used to correspond internationally and swap badges, and I ended up with a blanket that was covered in scout badges of one sort or another. That was part of becoming aware of the world and of becoming aware of my potential and the potential of other people.

It is terrific to be able to step back to that period in the 1950s when I was a cub, and it is terrific to see that the organisation continues to grow and thrive to this day. I wish it all the best for the next 100 years.


S5M-02203 UK Referendum on EU Membership: Justice and Security

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh): The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-02203, in the name of Michael Matheson, on the United Kingdom referendum on European Union membership: impacts on justice and security in Scotland.

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

I gently disagree with Liam Kerr. The person who really defeated Napoleon was a guy called George Scovell, who was Arthur Wellesley’s code-breaker. George Scovell broke Napoleon’s le grand chiffre, and thus, in the peninsular wars in 1812, the man who became Lord Wellington knew exactly what Napoleon’s plans were.

In the modern world, perhaps the use of, access to and protection of data will be equally important, and important things on the European stage relate to that. Government Communications Headquarters was the home of public key cryptography: Crookes and Clifford Cocks were the original inventors, although now its invention is attributed to the 1977 Massachusetts Institute of Technology patent in the name of Rivest, Shamir and Adleman. The secrecy of GCHQ meant that the UK was denied the commercial advantage and intellectual approbation of the world for inventing the software and algorithms that continue to protect our data to this day.

If we cut ourselves off from the world in the way that it appears will be the case, we will not be in a position to develop the means to make and to break cryptography. When we are dealing with crime, we need to be able to break into the codes and encryptions that criminals use and we need to produce robust protections for our data, because that is the very basis of our national security.

Rather than involving the old arguments about hardware, the future will be much more about fighting cyberwars and cybercrime. With people from around the world coming to our universities to share their intellect and their ideas, we are in a position to develop the kind of protections that we need. However, with the cutting of ties to European institutions and the setting up of barriers to the free movement of people, we will not have the intellectual and multinational capacity to fight the world in the internet.

The internet de facto knows no boundaries; it creates commercial, intellectual and cultural opportunity, but it also creates threats to which we need to respond. The internet is a place with fewer rules than we would probably put in place if we developed it from scratch today. It enables people to create spoof emails, it enables phishing attacks by spoof websites and, with wi-fi moving into domestic things such as fridges and lights—the internet of things, as that is now called—it creates further vulnerabilities that require international collaboration.

Only last week, an attack by a bot infected many pieces of domestic equipment and wi-fi via the internet, and it brought down the domain name server that allows people to access Twitter. Some of us might think that having Twitter off the air for four or five hours is probably a very good thing. However, that attack is indicative of the threats that will exist in the future from the activities that can take place on the internet.

We must not pretend that the world of the future is one where barriers will be more controllable than they were in the past; they will be more permeable than at any time in recent history.

Terrorism is not a new thing. The Metropolitan Police special branch was founded in 1883 in response to the Irish republican brotherhood—a domestic terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom, which included Ireland at that time.

International terrorism existed then, too. In January 1911, Winston Churchill attended the siege of Sidney Street, where Latvian revolutionaries—who had been conducting a series of bank raids—had holed themselves up. Special branch and the Army were there to dig them out. Churchill claimed that there were lead bullets in his astrakhan coat from peering from behind the wall to see what was going on and getting himself shot at—whether that is true is perhaps a matter for debate.

In more recent times, we had the Balcombe Street siege in London in 1975, which again involved Irish terrorism. We had the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany and the red brigades in Italy, both of which were entirely domestic. Terrorism crosses boundaries, but it can also grow in communities that are not socially adept at responding to changes.

We have just been through the fifth referendum organised by central Government. The first was in 1975, although there was also a referendum on the League of Nations in 1934. That one was organised by the churches, but everyone in the UK voted. We are now discussing the impact on the justice system of the most recent referendum. Let us go back and think about what that referendum was about.

The question on the ballot paper was a simple one: should the United Kingdom remain a member of the EU or should it leave? That was all. It was not a referendum on immigration, the single market or the European convention on human rights. In fact, the question that we were asked made no reference to matters of justice, the economy or a wide range of other areas. Therefore, we should not read into the result the idea that it tells us that we should leave the single market or unsign the European convention on human rights, which—as Claire Baker reminded us—was very much the brainchild of Winston Churchill, who was at that time a distinguished Conservative member and former Prime Minister. We cannot look at the vote and decide what it means.

Margaret Mitchell told us that we should not reveal anything about our negotiating hand. I predict that, if we go into the chamber where the negotiations take place with a blank sheet of paper, we will come out with a blank sheet of paper.


Stewart Stevenson
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