30 October 2013

(S4O-02503) HM Prison Grampian

2. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):
To ask the Scottish Government what benefits Her Majesty’s Prison Grampian will bring to the north-east. (S4O-02503)

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Kenny MacAskill): HM Prison Grampian will be Scotland’s first community-facing prison and it will accommodate men, women and young people from the north-east of Scotland. It will provide offenders with the ability to maintain close links with families and communities, which is intended to help them to desist from offending and to better reintegrate with their communities in the north-east and elsewhere on release.

The north-east community will benefit by an additional 40 jobs, which will bring commensurate economic benefit to the local community. There will also be an improvement to the visual image of the area, an increase in local work placements where there is a need for them, an overall reduction in travel time to courts and reduced carbon usage.

Stewart Stevenson: I welcome the cabinet secretary’s comments. Given that the primary objectives of a prison are community safety and the reform of convicts, does he agree that the previous success of Peterhead prison’s specialist sex offenders unit is an excellent base on which HMP Grampian can build?

Kenny MacAskill: Absolutely; I agree with that. There was outstanding expertise at that unit. This morning, I was at the Prison Officers Association conference in Peebles, at which the unit was being commemorated and officers from Peterhead prison were present. Their expertise will be used and shared across the prison estate, and I say on the record that we should all express our gratitude to those officers at Peterhead prison for the outstanding expertise that they built up. I assure the member that those skills will now be shared across the prison estate.

1 October 2013

(S4T-00464) Emissions Targets

1. Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the publication of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, what action it is taking to ensure that all relevant policies and proposals are properly costed and acted on to ensure that annual emissions targets are met. (S4T-00464)

... ... ...

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

Does the minister recall that one of the key contributions to the considerations of the IPCC was the seminal report by Sir Nicholas Stern? That report identified that the costs of not dealing with climate change were some 10 times greater than those of dealing with climate change. Does the minister agree that all Governments should still take notice of that, as climate change is both an environmental and an economic disaster that could engulf the world?

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Paul Wheelhouse): I agree 100 per cent with what Stewart Stevenson has said. Nicholas Stern identified the fact that countries that act quickly will prevent much greater cost to their economies in the longer term. That is why, when we engage on international issues to do with climate change, we stress to other countries what Scotland is doing not just because we want to talk about a positive story in Scotland, but in an effort to get across the fact that there are advantages in moving quickly to implement climate change mitigation measures. As well as saving their economies cost in the long run, the creation of a low-carbon economy or an economy that is circular in its handling of waste will give rise to economic opportunities that will help to generate jobs, investment and prosperity. As the member quite rightly identifies, as a society we would face huge costs if we were not to act now to tackle what is a fundamental problem.

The IPCC report indicates that temperature rises of up to 4.5°C could occur. I hope that I do not have to tell members what devastation temperature rises of that scale would cause, not just in Scotland but in our key markets around the globe. A sea-level rise of 0.82m might have a devastating impact even in Scotland, especially on some of our smaller islands such as the Uists and the Shetland islands, where many areas are low lying and much of our heritage is vulnerable to rising sea levels. We all have an interest in dealing with the issue, from the point of view not just of protecting society from devastating change, but of exploiting the economic opportunities that arise from that.

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