Murdo Fraser MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : 29 January 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

The First Minister will know that the Scottish Conservatives support further reductions in North Sea oil and gas taxation, and we have already made that case to the chancellor. However, Sir Ian Wood has stated that any reduction in taxes will make no difference to the situation over the next six to nine months. Therefore, what additional action will the Scottish Government take now to assist the sector?



Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : 28 January 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

I thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement, but it looks like his need not to be outflanked on this issue by Labour means that he has suffered a humiliating defeat in his war with Joan McAlpine. It must be a source of regret that so much of this debate has been characterised by political posturing instead of being evidence led and science based, and that the Scottish Government would rather play politics than take decisions in the best interests of the Scottish economy.

Yesterday, Tom Crotty of Ineos said that, if Scotland did not embrace shale gas, we could see a collapse in manufacturing. Little more than a year ago, every major party in this Parliament came together to help secure the future of the Ineos Grangemouth plant and the thousands of jobs that rely upon it. Now the Scottish Government has taken the decision to cut off any domestic supply of shale gas to Grangemouth, even though Ineos has said that that would help secure jobs for the future. Instead, it will have to continue to import shale gas from the United States. Is it really the Scottish Government’s position that fracking is fine as long as it happens in Pennsylvania, but not if it happens in our back yard?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : 27 January 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

The speed reduction measures on the A9 were introduced in conjunction with an increase in the HGV speed limit to 50mph, to which Mr Stewart referred. That came about because of vigorous campaigning by some members and many people outside the Parliament. When will the Scottish Government assess the impact of the increase in the HGV speed limit? As Mr Stewart said, if the increase is deemed successful, what is to stop us rolling it out on other major A roads across the country?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : 27 January 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

I welcome this afternoon’s debate on partnership action for continuing employment. We have become used to hearing the term “PACE” when redundancies are announced, and it is good to have this opportunity to debate in more detail PACE’s work, how it functions and indeed how it might be improved.

With the overall economic picture improving, we hope that the requirement for PACE intervention will diminish. Since 2010, employment in Scotland has increased by 175,000 and unemployment has fallen by 61,000, and although there was a slight increase in the latest quarterly figures, our unemployment rate is still lower than that of the rest of the UK. Since 2010, some 265,000 new private sector jobs have been created in Scotland. All of that is, of course, testament to the economic stewardship of the UK coalition Government, which has delivered the fastest growing economy in Europe by pursuing a policy that was opposed at every turn by members on both the SNP and Labour benches.

However, even against that successful backdrop, the reality is that we have a dynamic market economy in which we will continue to see business successes and failures. Even at a time of overall economic success and growth, sectors will from time to time be hit by a downturn, just as we are seeing today in the oil and gas sector. In the past few weeks, a number of redundancies have been announced in that sector—the minister will be familiar with those—and I suspect and fear that others may come in the months ahead.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : 27 January 2015
Murdo Fraser

The minister and I have discussed those points on a number of occasions in the past few weeks. He knows perfectly that we support tax reductions to assist the North Sea oil industry, and Ruth Davidson has made the same point to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on numerous occasions.

The minister mentioned Sir Ian Wood. It is worth reflecting that Sir Ian himself has said that tax changes now would make no difference to the North Sea oil industry, nor would they prevent redundancies—in fact, they would not have any impact for the next six to nine months.

Although I agree that the Westminster Government is required to take action, we should not pretend that that will have any impact in the short term. It should not absolve the Scottish Government, which has responsibility for economic development, from taking action itself to deal with the current situation in the North Sea.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : 27 January 2015
Murdo Fraser

No—I hope that the member will forgive me, but I do not wish to be diverted into a debate about the oil and gas industry. We have had the opportunity to debate that in the past, and I am sure that we will debate it in the future. I want to talk about PACE, which is what the debate is about.

Where there are business failures, it is important that the individuals who are affected get the support that they need to help them to access benefits, find new work and retrain, and to make the transition into new employment that much easier.

The experience of individuals who have been involved with PACE teams has generally been positive. The minister referred to the report that was commissioned by Skills Development Scotland. It looked at client experiences of PACE, and found that three quarters of those involved were satisfied overall with their interactions with PACE, although older clients—those aged over 55—tended to be less satisfied than those in other age groups.

Two thirds of users suggested that PACE met or exceeded their expectations. The most useful component of the PACE scheme, according to the survey, was help with job applications and CVs. The good news was that nearly three quarters of clients had found work following PACE’s intervention, although unfortunately more than half were being paid less than they had been paid in their previous position. Around a quarter had undertaken further education or training.

The overall conclusion is that PACE is providing a valuable service that is generally well regarded. Nonetheless, I appreciate that there remain on-going concerns.

I was interested in what the minister had to say about PACE’s involvement with very small employers. There is a general view, which is clearly incorrect, that PACE is there only to help with large-scale redundancies. I wonder—perhaps the minister can deal with this point in responding to the debate—whether more can be done to work with business organisations such as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses to ensure that they are aware of the availability of PACE support for their members and are spreading the message to them.

I read with interest Labour’s proposed amendment to the Government’s motion. I have sympathy with Lewis Macdonald on the point that

“the work of PACE should be reviewed in order to identify where more pro-active interventions can be made at an earlier stage”,

although I note the minister’s comment that that is already happening behind the scenes.

I listened with interest to Mr Macdonald’s speech to see whether he would cite any examples of where there had been a failure to intervene. I did not hear many of those, but perhaps his Labour colleagues will expand on that point during the debate.

I am somewhat less convinced by Labour’s call

“for the establishment of a resilience fund”.

If such a fund is to be established, we need to know exactly what it will be for; in what circumstances it would be called on; what criteria would be required for payments; on what basis a budget of £10 million per annum has been calculated; and on what exactly that money will be spent. It rather sounds like a headline looking for a story to be written to justify it. If Labour is going to attract our support for the amendment, it will need to provide a little bit more detail on those aspects.

With that caveat, I hope that the debate will be largely consensual. The Scottish Government told us in the middle of last year that some 63,500 people had received support from PACE, which reflects the number of large-scale redundancies that occurred in the economy. As I said, I hope that, with the general economic recovery, that figure will decline; unfortunately, the exception of the problems in the oil and gas sector will mean that we will require PACE to be in place for many years to come.

I join the minister in paying tribute to those who work for PACE. Their efforts are clearly valuable and the evidence suggests that they are well regarded by their clients. I hope that we can all agree that PACE deserves praise for its endeavours. I am pleased to support the Government’s motion.



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : 22 January 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Is it true that contractors that are working on the new women’s prison project in Greenock will be told tomorrow that the project will not now go ahead?



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : 22 January 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Presiding Officer, I have a point of order in relation to the answer that the First Minister gave me in connection with the future of the proposed women’s prison project in Greenock. Given your statement to Parliament on Tuesday about communications and announcements being made by the Scottish Government first to the press and not, as they properly should be, to the Parliament, how can you assist members who wish to see further information on that topic being announced to Parliament and not in some other fashion?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
The Convener (Murdo Fraser)

Good morning and welcome to the second meeting in 2015 of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee. I welcome members, our witnesses—whom I will come to in a moment—and our visitors in the gallery. I remind everyone to turn off, or at least to turn to silent, all mobile phones and other electrical devices so that they do not `interfere with the sound equipment. We have received no apologies, so we should have a full house of members.

Agenda item 2 is to ask members whether they are content to take in private item 4, which will be a review of the evidence that we will hear. Do members agree to do so?

Members indicated agreement.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : 21 January 2015
The Convener

Item 3 is continuation of our inquiry into the economic impact of the creative industries. We will hear from two panels this morning. The first panel comprises Alan Clements, who is the director of content at STV; Ian MacKenzie, who is the development manager at Channel 4; Jane Muirhead, who is the national director for Scotland for the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television, or PACT, which is the trade body for the independent film, television and digital media industry; Drew McFarlane, who is the national organiser for Scotland and Northern Ireland for Equity; and Ewan Angus, who is the head of commissioning for BBC Scotland. Welcome to you all.

We have 90 minutes or so for the panel, and we have a broad range of topics to cover. I ask committee members to keep their questions short and to the point. Because there are five panel members and you will all want to have your say, it would be helpful if you could keep your responses as short as possible. When members ask questions, I ask them to address them initially to a particular panel member and then, if other panel members wish to answer a question that has been directed to someone else, they should just catch my eye and I will bring them in as best I can and as time allows. If members want to ask supplementaries, they can do the same.

We have a couple of photographers here who will be going around snapping. I hope that that is fine with everybody and does not cause any distraction.

I will start by asking about a point that has featured in several of the written submissions that the committee has received. There have been a great many submissions, which shows the level of interest in the committee’s inquiry. The issue is the relationship between the industry and the public bodies Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. Some of the submissions contain quite a lot of commentary on that—I will quote from just one or two.

TRC Media talks about the

“absence of a single leadership role in public support for the sector”.

Tiernan Kelly of Film City Glasgow says that

“the relationship between Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise needs immediate attention. Metaphorically, it is a failing marriage”.

David Griffith, an independent feature film producer, says that

“Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland have not worked well together”,

and Cameron Fraser of Ko Lik Films talks about

“systemic neglect and a complete absence of vision from public funders”,

such as Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.

I put this question to Alan Clements from STV, because I noticed that STV’s submission refers to the

“lack of clarity at the heart of government policy”.

What is the problem here? Why is the system not working and why is so much criticism being expressed in the comments that the committee has heard about Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12182.1 Alex Fergusson: The Chilcot Inquiry—As an amendment to motion S4M-12182 in the name of N
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12182 Nicola Sturgeon: The Chilcot Inquiry—That the Parliament calls for Sir John Chilcot’s offi
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-12176 John Swinney: Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the gene
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12160 Kezia Dugdale: Women Offenders—That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish G
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
>> Show more
NoDefeated

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
AbstainCarried

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Murdo Fraser
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12141: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12076: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11887: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11756.1: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11741: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11670: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11574: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11440: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11382: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10744: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Murdo Fraser
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24165: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03990: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23986: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23985: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23984: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03922: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23754: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23755: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23703: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23704: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Question >>

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