Nigel Don MSP

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Member of the Conveners Group

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Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

I am grateful for the opportunity to comment on the regulations. The only unfamiliar thing about being back at the committee is that I am on the wrong side of the table—but it is good to see you all again.

The instrument relates to salmon fishing by all methods. As members will be well aware, there are many anglers in my constituency, and there is also a significant salmon netting operation. Members will also have seen that there has been a great deal of correspondence about the instrument. I want to pick out what I think is the most important issue addressed in that correspondence, and I think that it can be reduced to a small number of words.

In so far as close time affects those who fish, it seems to me that there is a slight difference between the netsmen and those who have an angling interest. During close time, there is an opportunity for anglers to carry on fishing and to put the fish back into the water, so there is some economic activity and benefit within the angling community. On the other hand, if netsmen are not allowed to take a fish out of the water, they can do precisely nothing. There is an economic opportunity for those with an angling interest, but there is zero economic opportunity for those with a netting interest; all that they have is their costs.

There is also a proportionality issue. If anglers can take fish and then put them back, there is a recognition that some of those fish will die because they have been injured or simply exhausted in the process. I do not know what the mortality rate is. I have seen a figure of 18 per cent, but I have no idea how robust that number is. Nonetheless, some fish will be lost. There is some inequity in that the netsmen, who admittedly kill every fish they take, can take precisely none, whereas the angling community can necessarily kill some. There is an equity issue in that.

All that I want to put to the committee is that, in its response to the Government, at some point I would like you to make those points and to make the consequent point that for the netsmen—wherever they may be, and they are not all in my constituency—there is no income whatsoever to be derived when they cannot catch, although there are fixed costs, as there are in every business. Indeed, in most businesses, all costs are fixed for a short period of time, and that is what we are talking about.

That takes us straight to the issue of compensation. I think that there is a recognition that no compensation need legally be paid to the businessmen in my community. I am not sure whether that is the position, but it seems to be the implication. On behalf of those businesses, I simply want to ask the committee to bring to the Government’s attention the fact that some compensation might well be entirely appropriate. The quantum of that is not easy to come by, but it looks as if a figure of about £10,000 a month is consistent with what has happened before in compensation from the Esk District Salmon Fishery Board to the netsmen. That appears to be the right kind of number, but I am sure that the accountants can talk about that.

That is really what I wanted to bring to the committee. Please could you take to the Government the points about equity and the appropriateness of compensation?



Public Audit Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don

I am not doubting that, but I wanted you to put it on the record, because there is a tendency to believe that IT systems are just like cars: that when you put all the bits in the right place and put petrol in, they will work. We need to understand that they may not be like that.

11:00  

Public Audit Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don

It is still an IT project.



Public Audit Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don

I am glad to hear that.

I return to the idea of critical paths, which are always a bit of a problem when we are having to test stuff. That is part of the process. We never quite get it right, and the system needs to be tweaked, but we never know how long that will take. How meaningful is it to have some kind of critical path analysis? I am sure that you have one in this case. Where do you derive your confidence from?



Public Audit Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don

If there is a relatively steady stream—albeit that there are bound to be fluctuations—and if it so happens that the system does not quite work on 1 April, you can process the returns manually and get the system running on 2 or 3 April, or whenever. My real question is this: is this a soft landing—I think it is—or is there some genuinely critical date at which the system must work, or else we will be in trouble?



Public Audit Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don

I apologise for not being here at the beginning of the evidence. I do not think that I missed much, but I am sorry if I repeat anything, although I am sure that people will point that out.

You mentioned the critical path, which I raised earlier and wish to return to. I am grateful for your comments about the staff posts that are not on the critical path. Am I right in thinking that—as is implied by exhibit 2 on page 9—on 1 April you will not suddenly find that everybody wants to send you a tax return, and that what will actually happen is that people who happen to have bought or sold properties—whoever is responsible for doing that—will send you something relating to the transactions that have happened on that day? Will there be a relatively steady stream of transactions for you to deal with, rather than a pile of them suddenly arriving like the Christmas post.



Public Audit Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don

Thank you—and thank you, convener. I must go now.



Public Audit Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don

May I then try to put that in the context of what I would describe from previous experience as the critical path? I am sure that that is a familiar term to you.

I am looking again at page 14 and exhibit 3, and I am thinking that, if the Scottish Government’s plans had put everything two months later, you would have had nothing to say other than that the project was on plan. I am not suggesting that the Scottish Government should have put things two months later, but I am reflecting that if the project could still have got to the end point—in other words, if the critical path allowed those points to be two months later—we would not be here talking about this, because it would appear that everything was on target.

My question then becomes: where is the critical path in this project? Are those milestones now in the right place, or are we actually past them?



Public Audit Committee 17 December 2014 : 17 December 2014
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

Thank you, convener. I have to go to another committee in about five minutes to discuss a constituency issue.

Good morning, Auditor General. If I may, I will pick up on the point about risk. I understand from running a few small projects in my time that there is always a risk, and I reflect that, whether the risk that something will go wrong is 50:50 or 0.5 per cent, we would still describe it as a risk. There is also a risk—in the other sense—that the rest of the world will believe that the world is about to fall down. The risk is actually minute, but you would still describe it as a risk.



Meeting of the Parliament 16 December 2014 : 16 December 2014
Nigel Don

I find Ken Macintosh’s claim about the normal tone of the debate on this subject very disappointing, because my experience would indicate that he probably will be very consensual. I hope that he will carry on being so, because it is much better that way.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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NoDefeated

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

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

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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YesCarried

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Nigel Don
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11748: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11701: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11676: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11605: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11466: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09965: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09910: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09887: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09813: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09678: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Nigel Don
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03872: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03800: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03722: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03688: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03410: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03349: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21123: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03179: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03172: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03114: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/03/2014 Show Full Question >>

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