16 July 2020

Virtual Statement:Transport

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): I thank the cabinet secretary for his announcement of changes to the bus emissions abatement retrofit scheme, which I welcome. Looking to the longer term and the green recovery that we want, will hydrogen have a long-term future as part of the fuel for buses, lorries, trains and ferries?

The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity (Michael Matheson): The opportunity to use hydrogen in the bus industry is already being tested in north-east Scotland, in Aberdeen, and also in Dundee, through a Scottish Government-supported initiative. We are also working to develop a hydrogen accelerator programme in partnership with academia and industry in Scotland, further details of which we will set out in the weeks ahead.The member will also be aware of our recent announcement of the energy transition plan, which we are supporting in the north-east of Scotland. We are investing an additional £62 million in a range of initiatives to support the transition from a hydrocarbon-based economy in the north-east of Scotland to one that is based on sustainable new technologies. That includes the provision of a specific level of funding for hydrogen. Therefore, I assure the member that we continue to actively support exploration of the potential for greater use to be made of hydrogen, particularly in the haulage and bus sectors of the heavy road industry, and we will continue to work with partners to develop technology in that area in the years ahead.

18 June 2020

(S5O-04429) Digital Exclusion (Young People)

2. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what work is being undertaken to ensure that young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds are not digitally excluded while learning from home. (S5O-04429)

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills (John Swinney): We recognise that digital technology will play a key role in delivering continuity of education and that that is likely to be a key issue for some of our more disadvantaged families, children and young people.

We do not want children and young people in any part of the country left without access to usable devices or connectivity solutions in these exceptional circumstances. We have committed to investing £30 million in digital devices and connectivity to provide that extra help to young people who do not have access to appropriate technology.

Stewart Stevenson: In yesterday’s COVID-19 Committee meeting, we heard about Highland Council’s provision of Chromebooks for, I think, all its pupils. Given their key part in delivering educational provision, how is the Government working with councils across Scotland to ensure in particular that, when pupils return to school in August, they are ready for the blended learning that will follow?

John Swinney: The Government is working closely with local authorities. They are joint partners with us in the education recovery group and have designed the approach to blended learning that schools around the country are pursuing.

Currently, the plans that have been developed by local authorities are being assessed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education to ensure that all opportunities to maximise face-to-face learning have been taken and that the models in place are appropriate. That dialogue is on-going. Flowing from that work will be the identification of the requirement for resources to ensure that that capacity can be maximised. The Government will engage constructively in that exercise.

On digital learning, which was at the heart of Mr Stevenson’s original question, the Government is engaged with local authorities to identify young people who will benefit from access to digital resources, devices and connectivity. That work will influence how we distribute digital technology.

7 May 2020

Members' Virtual Question Time: International Trade (Protected Geographical Indications)

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): As the Covid-19 pandemic affects international trade, what discussions has the cabinet secretary had with the United Kingdom Government, and perhaps others, about the continuation from 2021 of protected geographical indications for Scottish food products, which are so essential to continuing recognition in export markets where the superior quality of products in Scotland is understood?

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism (Fergus Ewing): PGIs are extremely valuable for Scotland. Our quality Scotch beef, lamb and specially selected pork as well as Arbroath smokies have a particular cachet, and the conferral of PGI status brings with it a commercial premium and an additional value. The production of those high-quality foodstuffs is therefore extremely important to the rural economy in Scotland.

PGI status is, I think, more of a Brexit than a Covid-19 issue. One concern about Brexit is that we could lose the benefits of those PGIs, because we may no longer enjoy the reciprocal arrangements that we have in the European Union whereby we recognise, for example, Parmesan cheese. Will that reciprocity still be there? It is hugely valuable, because it is in the European markets that those premiums are earned and received. The loss of PGI status that could result from Brexit, possibly without a similar replacement, has caused us concern. To answer Mr Stevenson’s question, I have repeatedly raised that concern with various Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ministers. I am not sure whether I am on my fourth of fifth DEFRA secretary of state—as it were—at the moment. We will certainly continue to press the case for preservation of that enormous benefit to Scottish prime produce.

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

However Google who publish for us, may do.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP