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18 January 2018

(S5O-01665) R100 Superfast Broadband Programme

2. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what impact the R100 superfast broadband programme will have on rural areas. (S5O-01665)

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity (Fergus Ewing): The R100 superfast broadband programme will make rural Scotland one of the most digitally connected places anywhere in Europe and will underpin and enable future economic growth. It is the only universal superfast broadband programme in the United Kingdom, and it demonstrates the Scottish Government’s ambition to make Scotland a world-class digital nation.

Stewart Stevenson: I very much welcome what the cabinet secretary has just said. Given that the Scottish Government seeks to make universally available broadband speed that is three times as fast as that which the UK Government plans to deliver, can the cabinet secretary identify any particular benefits that that higher speed in Scotland will have in rural areas?

Fergus Ewing: Mr Stevenson is correct. The UK Government might consider that 10 megabits per second is adequate for homes and businesses, but I certainly do not. That is why we have stipulated in our programme that we will seek to deliver 30 Mbps for every home and business in the country by the end of 2021.

The digital sector is now worth more than £4 billion to the Scottish economy, and research shows that every £1 of public investment in broadband returns around £20 in net economic impact. I believe that, through our investment of £600 million to deliver universal, 100 per cent access to superfast broadband, we will see created in Scotland a digital infrastructure that will allow businesses across the country—particularly in rural and remote areas—to modernise, digitalise, innovate and grow

12 December 2017

(S5T-00813) Police Governance

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): Does the cabinet secretary agree that the addition of substantial experience of public service and of Government to the SPA will greatly enhance its oversight responsibilities. In particular, will he expect of the new chair that improvements will continue throughout her term of office and that quick fixes will be suspect?

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson): It is worth reiterating that last week’s report from Audit Scotland has already demonstrated the significant progress that has improved overall governance and financial accountability in the Police Scotland and SPA budgets. This is the first time that the audit report has not modified their accounts, which recognises the progress that has been made in accountability and transparency in the accounts’ processes.

The new chair of the SPA has already said that she intends to address the issues that Audit Scotland raised in the report in order to ensure that the SPA drives forward further improvement on the issues, and that she intends to learn lessons where they can be learned. I have no doubt that Susan Deacon will bring to the organisation considerable leadership and skill that she has gained from her time in Parliament and in the public and private sectors over recent years.

Alongside that, Kenneth Hogg, as the new chief officer in the Scottish Police Authority, brings considerable experience from the public sector and of transformation of public agencies. I have no doubt that both will bring considerable leadership to the organisation. Members should be reassured by their commitment to learning lessons and to addressing the issues that were highlighted in this year’s Audit Scotland report.

Stewart Stevenson
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