24 November 2016

First Minister's Questions

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

With the Brexiteer chimera of £350 million a week for the national health service being replaced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday with £225 million a week of new borrowing, is it not now much more difficult for Governments north and south of the border to deliver social justice, given that our economy is being burdened by debt of that magnitude due to the incompetence of the Tories?

The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): Yes, I think that that is absolutely correct. Yesterday, perhaps for the first time, we started to see laid bare the true cost of Brexit. Rather than there being the promise of £350 million extra a week for the national health service, we saw that the additional borrowing alone that has been caused by Brexit will amount to £225 million a week. That is the Brexit con that so many people in the Conservative Party have presided over. That is why I am determined that we will continue to explore every option to protect Scotland’s interests and, in particular, to protect our place in the single market, because that is how we will minimise the costs of Brexit that are being imposed on us by the Conservative Party.

23 November 2016

(S5O-00377) Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (Review)

13. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its plans to review the protecting vulnerable groups scheme. (S5O-00377)

The Minister for Childcare and Early Years (Mark McDonald): On Monday, the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, spoke at Disclosure Scotland’s stakeholder event in Glasgow. He outlined the broad themes that the protecting vulnerable groups scheme review would cover, including digital delivery of services, the importance of safeguarding vulnerable groups and the financial sustainability of the scheme. Between now and the end of February 2017, Disclosure Scotland officials will continue to engage with stakeholders to develop terms of reference for the review. Once that work is completed and ministers have agreed the terms of reference, I will write to the convener of the Education and Skills Committee and arrange for the information to be provided to the Scottish Parliament information centre.

Stewart Stevenson: The minister has provided very welcome and up-to-date information. Disclosure Scotland plays an important part in ensuring that vulnerable groups are protected. Can he provide further information about how the disclosure system might emerge from the review that is now being undertaken?

Mark McDonald: The review will cover both aspects of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007: the listing and barring functions under part 1; and the vetting and disclosure functions under part 2.

With regard to what Mr Stevenson says, the important point is that we ensure that there is strong stakeholder engagement as part of the review. During the stakeholder event on Monday that I mentioned, officials offered attendees the opportunity to become involved in the work to devise the terms of reference for the review. In response, 39 individuals who represent organisations in the regulatory, public, private and voluntary sectors in Scotland signed up. Officials will take forward further discussions with those individuals and with Who Cares? Scotland, the recruit with conviction network and members of the Disclosure Scotland stakeholder advisory board with a view to presenting terms of reference for the review to me by the end of February 2017. Once we have had the opportunity to flesh out those terms of reference, that will be an appropriate point at which to respond to Mr Stevenson on what the review will cover.

10 November 2016

Statement: Climate Change Action

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The next item of business is a statement by Roseanna Cunningham on Scotland’s contribution to international action on climate change and the Paris agreement.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): Does the cabinet secretary recall hearing a long line of assurances to our island communities about the future of what is rather oddly described as remote onshore island wind?

Yesterday was a highly suspicious day for the UK Government to announce that it was reneging on its promises—it was hoping that the announcement would be buried by other news. Should we now make sure that we make common cause with Maurice Golden, who said that infrastructure needs to be put in place, and others of a progressive nature on climate change in this Parliament, to get that decision overturned?

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (Roseanna Cunningham): I would certainly welcome support from across the chamber, including from the Conservatives, on the matter. It was a long-awaited announcement, and it was very disappointing on a number of fronts. I am not quite sure what the timing was all about—I will let others draw their own conclusions on that.

We have repeatedly sought assurances from UK ministers. It is a matter of regret that this Government was not consulted before the announcement; that is unfortunate, because our islands have huge renewable energy potential, possibly the greatest in the whole of Europe.

(S5F-00450) US Presidential Election

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

To ask the First Minister what assessment the Scottish Government has made of the impact on Scotland of the outcome of the US presidential election. (S5F-00450)

The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): While the outcome of the US presidential election is not the one that I had hoped for, it is the verdict of the American people. That said, I hope that the new President will reach out to those who felt marginalised and, often, vilified by his campaign. I hope that he makes clear that he will be a President for all of modern multicultural America and one who values the principles of tolerance, respect and diversity. The Scottish Government will continue to monitor developments during the transition period between now and January. We will fully assess the impact for Scotland once President-elect Trump forms the new Administration and its priorities are made clear.

Stewart Stevenson
: On 19 November 1863, at Gettysburg, the founder of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, said that his nation was

“dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Does the First Minister agree that, although the US President-elect’s comments during the election barely connected with that proposition, he will have our support if he embraces, in his acts and his thoughts, Lincoln’s statement as a proper foundation of what can truly make America great again and a great friend of ours?

The First Minister
: I agree with that. I was struck yesterday by comments made by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, when she said that she wanted to have a constructive engagement with the new President but one based on the values of respect for all, tolerance and diversity. I echo that sentiment. The relationship between Scotland and the United States of America is a strong one, which I believe will endure. As the elected First Minister of Scotland, I want to engage positively and constructively with the American Administration, but I will never, ever shy away from standing up for those important principles. I very much hope that we see a President Trump who is very different from the candidate Trump whom we have all witnessed and by whom many of us have been appalled in the past few months.

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