Drew Smith MSP

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Local Government and Regeneration Committee 04 March 2015 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Drew Smith

I seek the committee’s agreement not to move amendment 1067. Thank you for your welcome and I wish you well with the rest of stage 2 proceedings.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 04 March 2015 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Drew Smith

I am speaking only briefly, Mr Stevenson. I will conclude by saying that there is a difference when it comes to allowing local partners to attach the appropriate weight to different kinds of guidance that are available. The minister’s attempt to deal with that by inserting the words “have regard to” addresses the issue and, given that I argued that “have regard to” was a better alternative earlier at stage 2, I am happy to indicate when appropriate that I will not move my amendments.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 04 March 2015 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Drew Smith

I think that there is a difference between statutory guidance and advisory guidance. I understand what the minister says about using the term “statutory” in the bill. I will just reflect that it is interesting that the Government uses precedent as an argument both for and against things from time to time.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 04 March 2015 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Drew Smith

I listened carefully to the comments from Stewart Stevenson and the minister, and I understand the concerns that have been raised. However, I will press amendment 1054 because it is drafted to restrict its effect to community planning partnerships, which I believe have their own processes. Where it would be legitimate for CPPs to set their own local objectives, which should certainly have regard to national outcomes, I do not believe that those would be required to be completely consistent at all times. To require that they should be would go against the spirit of the bill. I therefore press amendment 1054.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 04 March 2015 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Drew Smith

Amendment 1054 returns us to section 4(3), on community planning. In the bill, the requirement is that local outcomes

“must be consistent with the national outcomes”.

The purpose and effect of my amendment would be to change the requirement so that community planning partnerships, in setting the outcomes, “must have regard to” national outcomes as opposed to having to “be consistent with” national outcomes.

We had an debate earlier about consistent use of language. Mr Buchanan’s view is that “have regard to” is perhaps a stronger position than “consider”. I contend that “must be consistent with” is stronger still and could run the risk of creating a situation in which national outcomes and local outcomes are in conflict. Perhaps as a result of a participation request, a local outcome might be set, but if the bill as drafted was passed, there could be a danger that the national outcome might be seen to override the local outcome.

I believe that there is certainly a case to be made that local partners should “have regard to” the national outcomes. However, I think that it is going too far to expect all local outcomes to be completely “consistent with” national outcomes.

I move amendment 1054.



Local Government and Regeneration Committee 04 March 2015 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Drew Smith (Glasgow) (Lab)

Thank you very much, convener, for the opportunity to take part in these stage 2 proceedings.

I note what the minister said and thank him for his agreement on the sentiment that we are exploring in my amendment 1045. The purpose of the amendment is to add greater consistency. The bill imposes a duty on community planning partnerships. The committee itself has previously concluded that the same standards of transparency and accountability should apply to others in the process. My argument is simply that the Scottish Government should lead by example in that respect.

Alex Rowley’s amendments refer to reporting on progress towards achieving the national outcomes. The two additional points that my amendment would add are that the Government would set out how

“the national outcomes have been improved following consultation”,

and would demonstrate how

“the results of the consultation have influenced those improvements.”

The committee referred to that in paragraph 107 of its stage 1 report, where it suggested that we would want to see the Scottish Government “leading by example” in relation to consultation and engagement.

I note that the minister said that he does not feel that legislating is the most appropriate way to ensure that such consultation happens, but the bill requires community planning partnerships to report in that way, so it does not seem to me to be too onerous to expect the Government to do the same.



Meeting of the Parliament 04 March 2015 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Drew Smith (Glasgow) (Lab)

We all accept that there is a variety of reasons why Government must hold certain data about its citizens. It helps us to administer pensions, benefits, the welfare system and, as Christine Grahame said, the tax system, which is after all our subscription to society. It can help to keep people safe. In the case of the NHS central register, it allows patients’ medical records to follow them as they move around the country, or in and out of the armed forces, or in a variety of circumstances.

Willie Rennie was quite right to say at the beginning of his speech that that there are plenty of valid reasons why Government should keep important and necessary data, and it is important to say that that is not being disputed today. Nor would I dispute that stored data can be, and often is, put to a greater use. The Deputy First Minister mentioned some of the medical research that flows from the central register, and we would support that.

The key point is that all that activity must be properly regulated to protect people’s privacy and civil liberties. There are a number of questions around that, including who has access and why, but the fundamental point is how much data is held on a single database and how much sits on separate systems, because that is one of the fundamental protections. The public must have confidence in the laws and regulations that govern the use, storage and sharing of their data, and we need to know that public consent to changes in the way in which their data is used exists, because we need to satisfy ourselves that changes are fair and transparent, even if they are simply for checking and verification purposes.

Emails that I have received from my constituents in Glasgow certainly suggest that there are a lot of people out there with serious concerns about the changes that are being proposed, and that level of concern warrants the issue being raised in Parliament, so I thank the Liberals for bringing the debate to the chamber today. We all experience the frustration of the short speeches that you will rightly keep us to, Presiding Officer, but I think that we need to come back to the issue and have a much fuller debate.

I hope that we can all agree on the fact that concerns about privacy and liberty, whether or not the Government agrees that they are valid, must be fully addressed before we proceed any further, so I support the amendment in Dr Simpson’s name.

The Scottish Government has been keen to stress that the changes that are proposed are limited in scope and would be for specific purposes, one of which is that the new arrangements would help the Scottish Government to identify Scottish taxpayers as the Parliament gains a new raft of tax powers. We can understand that, but we need to pay serious attention to comments such as those made by the British Medical Association, which is deeply concerned about the use of central register information to identify taxpayers and is urging the Government to consider an alternative source of data. The health profession is warning the Government not to use a health database to support tax collection, because it could deter people from registering with their GP and could damage the relationship of trust between people and their doctors. Others, such as Ken Macdonald, have commented on issues that need to be taken seriously by the Government if we are to prevent a national identity database emerging by default.

I welcome the time that we have had to discuss the issue this afternoon. I have certainly supported my constituents when they have contacted me about the issue, but I remain convinced that the changes are substantive and must be subject not only to a full debate in this Parliament but to a broader national debate in the country, and to the most rigorous possible parliamentary scrutiny. That is the message that I wish to convey to the Government front bench today. We need to come back and look at the issue in greater detail.

15:18  

Public Audit Committee 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Drew Smith

As a new member of the committee, I am happy to go with the wisdom of members who have followed the issue for longer. I agree that we should proceed in the way that Colin Beattie said, according to bullet point four of paper 3, which suggests that we take a progress report in May.



Public Audit Committee 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Drew Smith

That would be very welcome. Thank you.



Public Audit Committee 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Drew Smith

I have a general point. Quite a lot of the conversation has been about the policy decision. Colin Keir talked about the devastating impact that closure would have had on Ayrshire, in particular, and on the whole of the Scottish economy. I think that we all appreciate that.

Mention has been made of the six weeks that the Government had to draw up the case for taking over Prestwick. I accept that, but it must have had a longer-term interest, given that we are talking about a strategic asset that was not in public hands and that the impact on the public purse would have been great if people had been made redundant or businesses had closed.

Are there any lessons from the process that you have been through in relation to Prestwick that you think are worth sharing in relation to our approach to such issues in general. We hope that such situations will not arise too often, but does the expertise exist in the public sector to deal with them, given that the likelihood is that, when they arise, the timescales will be short? How do we do the long-term planning when the situation is not as urgent?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

 
Not VotedCarried

 
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12495 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-12491.2 John Swinney: Privacy and the State—As an amendment to motion S4M-12491 in the name of W
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NoCarried

S4M-12491.1 Richard Simpson: Privacy and the State—As an amendment to motion S4M-12491 in the name o
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YesDefeated

S4M-12491 Willie Rennie: Privacy and the State—That the Parliament notes the Scottish Government’s c
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NoCarried

S4M-12492.2 Jamie Hepburn: Mental Health—As an amendment to motion S4M-12492 in the name of Jim Hume
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NoCarried

S4M-12492 Jim Hume: Mental Health—That the Parliament notes that one in four people will experience
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YesCarried

Amendment 2 moved by Ken Macintosh on motion S4M-12485 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bi
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YesDefeated

Amendment 3 moved by Ken Macintosh on motion S4M-12485 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bi
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YesDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Drew Smith
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12432: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 25/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12244: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12197: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 29/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11972: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/12/2014 R Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11918: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11749: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11730: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11564: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11563: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11562: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Drew Smith
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24375: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24374: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24373: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23795: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23796: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23680: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23561: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 05/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03797: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23298: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23301: Drew Smith, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Question >>

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