Claire Baker MSP

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Search for other Speeches made by 1. Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

Meeting of the Parliament 09 December 2014 : 09 December 2014
Claire Baker

The member might be interested to note that Westminster is debating fisheries negotiations on Thursday this week.



Meeting of the Parliament 09 December 2014 : 09 December 2014
Claire Baker

My understanding of the Scottish Government’s motion is that it does not refer to the particular incident about who represented us at EU negotiations, when I supported the Government’s concerns. However, as during the referendum debate, I am pretty clear that I believe that the UK’s strong negotiating position provides the best deal for Scottish fishermen.

Notwithstanding the UK Government’s questionable decision to bring in a member of the House of Lords at the last minute to represent UK interests, I hope that the cabinet secretary will work well with his UK colleagues in the interests of the Scottish sector, as in previous years. The negotiations are significant, and I want Scotland to support decisions that aid the effective introduction of the landing obligation, achieve fishing at sustainable levels and help to deliver good environmental status. That can be achieved while retaining a profitable fishing sector, but it will require effort and commitment from all partners. We need to keep an eye on the prize of a fishing sector that has a future, without compromising our marine environment.

As the cabinet secretary outlined, the already-agreed increase in the North Sea cod and haddock TAC for the next year is welcome. That will help to ease the introduction of the new CFP. The successful negotiation of inward transfers of haddock and whiting quota is also welcome, as scientific evidence suggests that those stocks are in good shape.

In the fisheries debate last year, Labour’s amendment called for a clear plan of action to introduce the discard ban. I hope that I can be convinced today that that is in place and that the Government is supporting the sector in the efforts that have to be made.

We should not forget why we are introducing a discard ban. Discarding bycatch fish or fish whose quality was not high enough was a practice for many years, particularly as the financial incentive increased. It took a television campaign and a public outcry to mobilise the movement against that practice, whose time was up. That can be a good thing that will respect our seas and the natural resource that they give us, and it can open up new opportunities for the sector.

Scotland has been a fishing nation at the forefront of good practice, and we should recognise the commitment of much of our fleet to achieve that. That has taken investment and tough decisions. I recognise the frustration that there can be at the behaviour of other countries and the importance of the need for a level playing field, but the new CFP is a further challenge for our sector. The nature of Scottish fishing will make it very difficult to deliver a discard plan. We need to ensure that we have robust plans in place to deliver.

Last year, the cabinet secretary spoke about the need for the European Commission to provide fishermen with additional quota to enable the landing of all fish that are caught. He argued that the Commission must give us the tools to put in place a sensible and practical discards ban. I do not disagree on the need for greater flexibility, which is crucial, but we also need greater regional decision making and planning that increasingly identify and make best use of a shared quota and resource.

We also need a plan from the Scottish Government. We need a clear indication of the measures that it expects to be introduced and of what checks and balances it will bring into the sector to reward those who fish responsibly and work to meet the new standard. If fleets are struggling to change or are resistant to change, they should be supported to adapt, or compliance measures can be introduced.

Next year, there will be huge challenges for our mixed fisheries. There will be huge difficulties. We do not have the right quota at the moment, but there will be ways to make things easier.

Scotland has been at the forefront of selective gears, but we can do more in that area. Too many vessels are not using identified selective gear. We need to consider spatial management measures if we are to focus on avoiding catching unwanted fish. We need investment in research and development to support work in our universities to develop innovative solutions.

An increased or changed quota is of course important, but we must also work hard to develop markets for less popular species. The Scottish Government’s economic analysis identifies offsetting economic benefits of that. Introducing measures that will enable the landing and selling of all fish that are currently discarded, or increasing selectivity so that no unwanted fish are caught in the first place, has the potential to add up to £200 million to the landed value by 2020.

We need more flexibility from the Commission, but that will take us only so far. The approach means changes for our fleets but, if we start planning now for the challenges ahead and if we decide on and are clear about the measures that will need to be introduced and the expectation that they will need to be delivered, there will be rewards.

By 2015, Scotland’s fleets must show that they are doing all that is in their powers to fish at sustainable levels and deliver maximum sustainable yield. That must be achieved by 2020 at the latest. We need to develop a clear road map now that will set us on the right path for the next few years. The emphasis is often seen as being on the restrictive measures of selectivity, temporal and spatial management and behaviour change, but we should also work out ways to reward the good guys—the fleets that are taking the responsibility seriously and delivering on the environmental objectives.

The Scottish Government has consulted on quota allocation policy. The cabinet secretary will be aware that the period of restriction has been problematic or detrimental for some UK operators in Scotland. I understand that there has so far been little evidence of quota being held speculatively or as an investment. However, the Scottish Government makes a case that the quota is Scotland’s national asset, and I await the outcome of its consultation.

If there are changes, they could present the opportunity to create a pool of quota, which could be used to recognise the efforts that fleets make to comply. That could be used to reward vessels that provide social and economic benefit to communities—vessels that support fishing communities, provide employment opportunities and support a local economy—as well as a vibrant offshore sector.

I move amendment S4M-11825.3, to leave out from second “and supports” to end and insert:

“; believes that the European Commission must deliver greater flexibility and regionalisation to achieve this, and calls on the Scottish Government to set out a clear plan of action to ensure that the discard ban is implemented and sufficiently monitored.”

16:11  

Meeting of the Parliament 09 December 2014 : 09 December 2014
Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

It is almost a year since the new common fisheries policy was introduced, but the forthcoming year is when the force of the changes comes into effect. We are starting to see changes in the end-of-year negotiations that the debate refers to. There is less horse trading and fewer late-night negotiations. There is an increasing attempt to take out the politics and grandstanding and instead to focus on delivering sustainable fisheries that support employment, communities and our food sector, while not damaging stocks or the marine environment.

Conservation and stability of stocks can deliver long-term economic health for the whole industry, onshore and offshore. We need a continued commitment from the Scottish Government and the sector to deliver that. Scotland’s fishing sector employs about 5,000 people in the catching sector and supports key employment in supporting sectors. Scotland has world-renowned produce but, although our produce is sent all around the world, we could do more to support our home market. Although we are an island country, we are not big consumers of seafood, and there could be greater promotion of it, as well as a greater commitment to local sourcing. I hope for a positive outcome from the good food nation consultation that is happening.

The industry has a significant base in Scotland, but it operates throughout the UK, with a common regulatory system and a UK network of harbours and fish processors. That is reflected in some of the concerns that the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation raised about the quota consultation, which I will say a bit more about later.

The drama of previous years may be on the way out, but the importance and complexity of the EU negotiations are increasing, as they are not just about allocating effort but about changing the system to meet the CFP’s environmental objectives.

We are nearing the end of the negotiations. I support the Scottish Government’s key objectives going into the negotiations and wish the cabinet secretary well in the final stages.

We are looking to amend the motion to focus on the key issues for the sector rather than sustain a debate about who represents it, when we all have a common view anyway. I have sympathy with the cabinet secretary over recent decisions on who would present the UK case but, going forward, our understanding of what is “clearly appropriate” might not always be the same as the Scottish Government’s understanding.



Meeting of the Parliament 09 December 2014 : 09 December 2014
Claire Baker

I am very tight for time.

Are people clear about what a balanced diet means? A focus on fad diets, even by the First Minister, does not change long-term habits and build good health.

The new body has a role to play in providing trusted information and the Government needs to support it in getting out that message. No coffee or kitchen-table book will be produced by the new body that competes with those that promise the latest starlet figure if people drink maple syrup—or whatever the latest fad is—but the Government and all partner agencies have a responsibility to promote clear messages and to do all that they can to support that by working with producers and suppliers.

We need to look at child obesity in particular. The reasons for such obesity are complex, but there is a lack of information for parents on portion size, calories and activity levels. Advice needs to be tailored and different from that provided to adults.

In the stage 1 debate, I focused on the organisation’s regulatory role and its responsibility for meat inspection. I say again that that must be robust and resourced. We have seen cuts in staff and inspection numbers; we have also seen such cuts at local authority level among environmental health officers. The new organisation will be challenged in reconciling capacity and demand to ensure food safety.

The reputation of Scotland’s food and drink sector is strong and the new organisation has an important role to play in keeping it that way.

15:24  

Meeting of the Parliament 09 December 2014 : 09 December 2014
Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

I am pleased to make a contribution to the debate.

The Parliament recently held a food and drink debate. There is a growing recognition that the public health agenda and the food and drink sector need to be more closely aligned. The “Becoming a Good Food Nation” consultation indicates a different Scottish Government focus. It attempts to tie together the debates on growing food as a strong sector of our economy and how we address our domestic food challenges with regard to income and knowledge. That is to be welcomed.

It can be challenging to work successfully across Government, and the new food standards Scotland organisation, which will have responsibilities in public health as well as regulation of the food sector, is an example of the need for closer working and to produce food policies across Government portfolios that relate meaningfully to each other.

What are the challenges facing the new body? This afternoon will confirm the creation of the new organisation. Along with the chair, a board will soon be appointed, notwithstanding the debate about the board’s make-up. The organisation’s policy direction and focus will then be created. Therefore, the debate now moves on to what the new body will achieve.

The Parliament has led public debate on tobacco and alcohol and we need to turn our attention to food. By 2030, we will be spending £3 billion on tackling obesity if we continue the way that we are going. At a time when our overseas food export market has the potential to expand, with the development of new emerging markets, we will be fighting battles about food at home.

Alongside obesity, there are health issues associated with poor diet and food poverty. There needs to be realignment of our diets, and the new body has a role to play here. How do we have that debate? In the “Becoming a Good Food Nation” consultation, the Government proposes a food commission.

Debate around food in Scotland can be difficult, and Richard Simpson has the tabloid scars to prove it whenever he talks about a soda tax. A commission could provide the space for a reasonable, evidence-based assessment and proposals. I ask the minister to say how it would relate to the new food standards body. Also, if the new body is to have a greater public health role, how will it co-ordinate the work with the national health service to prevent duplication?

At the cross-party group on food and drink a few weeks ago, someone said that we should have not a good food nation but a good diet nation. In our parliamentary debate a few weeks ago, members took us on culinary tours of their constituencies. The focus was very much on pastries, pies and tablet. Does it matter if we consume such products as long as they are part of a balanced diet?



Meeting of the Parliament 04 December 2014 : 04 December 2014
Claire Baker

—that NHS Fife and Fife Council have identified a £3 million funding gap that they are working together to address. How can the Scottish Government help to address that?



Meeting of the Parliament 04 December 2014 : 04 December 2014
Claire Baker

Following yesterday’s meeting, I am sure that the cabinet secretary will be well aware of the pressures that are affecting NHS Fife and Fife Council. We have seen a doubling of locum costs, a reduction in the number of beds, and nursing shortages. Last week, it was revealed that bed blocking has led to more than 11,000 bed days being lost in Fife. Almost three quarters of those cases involved people aged over 75 who were waiting for care arrangements to be made.

I appreciate that the cabinet secretary will go into detail about the steps that she will take to address the issue, but funding remains at its heart. It has been reported in The Courier today—



Meeting of the Parliament 04 December 2014 : 04 December 2014
4. Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government when it last met NHS Fife and what issues were discussed. (S4O-03784)



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : 27 November 2014
Claire Baker

Antisocial behaviour happens on farm land and grass land and is increasingly a nuisance and threat on pavements and urban streets. I recognise that the minister is new to his post and I wish him well in his new role. Can he say whether the Government is open to the option of strengthening fixed-penalty notices to deal with the problem and to give the police more tools in their box?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : 27 November 2014
1. Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to deal with antisocial behaviour on quad bikes. (S4O-03751)

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
>> Show more
NoCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
AbstainDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Claire Baker
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11931: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11825.3: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11598.1: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11077: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11075: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11027: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10399: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10328: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 13/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10025: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09992: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Claire Baker
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03870: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23576: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23575: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23574: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23529: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23528: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23527: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23453: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03784: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03751: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Question >>

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