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31 May 2016

Statement: Common Agricultural Policy Payments

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): I draw members’ attention to my joint ownership of a registered agricultural holding, which is let to my neighbour for rough grazing. I receive no financial reward for doing so.

The cabinet secretary sat on the parliamentary committee that looked at the IT difficulties in the Scottish Qualifications Authority programme under the Labour-Liberal Administration in 2000, and he will be aware of the London Ambulance Service IT failures in 1992 under the Conservatives. We are now dealing with a project that has had significant IT difficulties associated with it under the SNP Administration. Will the cabinet secretary indicate how the public sector in general can raise its game in how it uses IT for public benefit?

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity (Fergus Ewing): I am not responsible for all IT systems across the Government—that is a somewhat pleasing reflection to offer the chamber. However, the member is perfectly right to say that, in her third report on the CAP payment system, Caroline Gardner said that she is reflecting on general lessons to be learned and will let us have her views shortly.

In the circumstances, the most sensible answer that I can give to Mr Stevenson, who—I did not appreciate it until now, although it does not come as a huge surprise—is a farmer among his many other occupations, is that I will reflect on his remarks and urge him to await the publication of Caroline Gardner’s further thoughts on these matters.

Stewart Stevenson
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