Nigel Don MSP

Welcome to Nigel Don MSP's biography pages

Parliamentary Activities

Member of the Conveners Group

Search for other Speeches made by Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

I was a bit concerned when we started that the session was going to be very defensive, so I am grateful that, in many ways, it has not been. From my notes, I could write a pretty good résumé of what you need to do to get the planning partnerships to work well, so that is on the record.

However, I will carry on from Drew Smith’s questions. I do not want to put words into people’s mouths, but it was nearly said that there is a duty to be part of community planning but no duty to do anything. The counter to that has been about passionate leadership and recognising that the approach must not be an add-on to the day job, which I think is absolutely fair.

I wonder whether you could reflect on the structural position that you are in. People move on and changes happen, and although we hope that not-so-good leaders will leave, we also recognise that good leaders may move on. Your structural position cannot be based around the people with whom you are working currently, because in a couple of years’ time some of them will have gone. It cannot be based on agreements drawn up on the back of a fag packet that say, “You and I agree that we’re going to do this and that.”

The structure has to be in place, and I would like to go right back to absolute basics. As I understand it, you have a facility to work and a desire to work, and you are asked to work together, but if, at the end of the day, a council leader or an NHS leader or a local police chief wants to get in the way, there is nothing to force them to co-operate. First, is my analysis correct? If I am right, is there anything that we should be doing in the Parliament to ensure that those things get better and become embedded, and are not stopped by individual people not playing ball?



Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don

Yes, there is a better chance. I take your point and I thank you for your answer, but I do not want to see a better chance. Our job as MSPs is to set up a structure that will work.



Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don

Forgive me for interrupting you. I entirely recognise that you will do your level best and sometimes that will not work, but that is not what worries me. What concerns me is that, at the parliamentary level, we should set up structures in national legislation whose effectiveness will not be significantly determined by the individual who is in place, whether that is a council leader, an NHS chief executive or whatever.

I repeat my basic thesis. Currently, there is a duty to be involved, but there is not a duty to do anything. Should we change the legislation? Do not ask me about the words—I do not quite know what we should do—but should we set up a structure in legislation that would require organisations to achieve something?



Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don

As far as I am concerned, the questioning stops there. I simply observe that two areas are clearly able to defend what they are doing, for better or worse, but I suspect that the Auditor General’s report implies that there are other areas where that is not so good. However, I can hardly expect those who are here to defend others who are not here.



Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don

Good morning, colleagues—it is still morning, by a few seconds.

My first question is on the issue that was mentioned in the earlier session about the health budget addressing health issues. I need only go back to yesterday’s debate in the chamber to find a recognition in some places that it is not the health budget that will solve our health problems, which are in-built in our communities and in children, almost before they are born.

This morning, we heard the NHS say frankly, “We’re keeping our budget and it’s not going anywhere else.” Thankfully, the current witnesses were here to hear that, too. There is a recognition that 99 point something percent of the NHS budget is spent on illness response rather than on health and illness prevention. If the NHS is going to hold on to its budget and is not going to share it, there is clearly no expectation that community planning partnerships will get shared budgets. That was another thing that the earlier evidence session clearly brought out. If the NHS is going to remain as an illness response service, how on earth will community planning partnerships, or for that matter any other part of our public service, actually get us to be healthier?



Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don

I am with your logic, but with respect, I have to say that that is not what is happening. I am not suggesting that local authorities are not doing what they can for the vulnerable, but they, like health boards, will say that they have core activities. I do not need to tell anybody here that those core activities finish up being social work and then education—although usually the budget is the other way round. In the current budgeting environments, everything else is struggling, and that is not going to change.

Mr Watters talked about something releasing money in the health service for health prevention but, actually, that does not happen. Community planning partnerships try to get resources from here and there, but the principal place where they might get resources from—the NHS—is not going to give them the resources for health improvement. It is going to carry on doing its illness stuff.



Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don

I absolutely agree with you—and I speak as a former councillor. Is there an appraisal system to examine whether those in public service in the senior appointments in CPPs are not only delivering their core service but working across the agendas? I am picking up that issue partly because of paragraph 23, which says that

“Partners’ formal lines of accountability are not to the CPP board, but to their own organisation’s board”,

which means their responsibility and annual appraisal are based on the core functions of, say, the NHS or the council. That precisely excludes what you want community planning partnerships to do. It is almost an institutional failure to do the cross-functional working that will enable us to carry out prevention work on all the topics that I have just spoken about.



Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don

Given the structure of local government, you will find it difficult to hold chief executives to account for much more than presenting a balanced budget. The practical realities might well leave you struggling to force chief executives to engage with community planning, although I am sure that they will do so.

I am much more interested in Sarah Davidson’s comment that the NHS is going to move towards being appraised on this matter. What we heard very clearly this morning was the statement, “My budget is my budget to do what I have to do about my core activities—and I am keeping it.” Those are not quite the words that will be in the Official Report, but that is what I gathered. Unless the NHS engages with the wider task of improving the whole of community life, community planning partnerships are going to struggle.



Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don

That sounds excellent.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

I have been listening to this interesting debate. When I was young, the science subjects were perceived as being more difficult, and when my children were young the science subjects were still perceived as being more difficult. If they are still perceived as being more difficult, that is partly because they genuinely are more difficult. As Iain Gray said, numeracy is an issue, and science will not come naturally to someone who is not particularly numerate. I suggest to the member that there is an element of difficulty, which children rightly see and which we must therefore accommodate.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
YesCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
AbstainCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12045.2 Jackson Carlaw: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Ric
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Nigel Don
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11987: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11978: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
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 >>
Search for other Questions asked by Nigel Don
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03930: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03898: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
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 >>

Further information

Email our Public Information Service for more information.