Mark McDonald MSP

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Search for other Speeches made by Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)

Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)

I have been reflecting for a few days on what I was going to say and I have been struck by the fact that PACE is somewhat paradoxical, in the sense that it does very good work in communities, but we kind of hope that we will never need to see it do that work. If we do, it means that there are jobs at risk and redundancies in train.

PACE has been active in the north-east on a number of occasions in recent years, despite the fact that the north-east has, largely, been an area of economic buoyancy—it is the only part of the UK that grew its economy during the recession. That said, there have still been instances in the north-east of company insolvencies and redundancies.

In 2012, I raised with the minister the potential redundancies at Hall & Tawse Joinery Ltd in my constituency. During the Donside by-election the following year, I spoke to a number of employees who had gone through that process and had interacted with the PACE team. They spoke very positively about the work that PACE had carried out during that period of great uncertainty for many employees and their families.

I hear what Lewis Macdonald said about early intervention, which ties in with what I said about not wanting to see PACE doing its work because of what that work implies. Much of the early intervention work is work that we really should not hear about, because if it were to become public knowledge that PACE was interacting at an early stage, that would set hares racing in respect of the sustainability of companies and the job security of employees, which could affect potential future contract awards and so on. That, in turn, could have a significant knock-on effect. I understand Lewis McDonald’s point, but I think that the minister has given us some comfort that the early intervention work that he has outlined does take place. It would be better if we were to work on the basis that we do not want too much evidence of early intervention taking place lest it put companies in an awkward spot.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Mark McDonald

I take Liam McArthur’s point. I say merely that because of its connotation with dealing with redundancies, if word gets out that a company is involved with PACE there is a potential knock-on effect. However, that does not deflect from the fact that there should be early interventions where possible, and the minister has highlighted that that does happen. We need to have faith in the fact that early intervention will take place and that we will not read about that early intervention taking place.

If there are examples in which early intervention has not happened, we need to hear about them. That has certainly not been my experience when companies in my constituency have gone through situations involving PACE. In those cases, there have been no complaints about the speed and efficacy of PACE’s work.

Opportunities in relation to the on-going situation in the north-east could perhaps be the focus of the work of organisations that are involved in PACE. For example, at a recent briefing at North East Scotland College, it was highlighted to MSPs that the college was having difficulty attracting appropriate people to lecture on some oil and gas courses. An upshot of the work that is taking place in the north-east might therefore be to identify individuals from the redundancy rounds that are taking place who could be directed towards the college, or vice versa, in order, potentially, to fill that skills gap.

I turn to the resilience fund. Murdo Fraser made a strong point in that what happened initially was an announcement that a resilience fund was called for. Ever since, we have heard various stages of detail in relation to a fund. I get the feeling that we might, in another couple of weeks, finally see the crystallisation of exactly what that resilience fund would do. It now appears that local authorities can use that £10 million to provide rates relief in their areas. However, I question exactly what impact that would have in areas such as the north-east, where we have some large multinational companies. We are talking about supply-chain companies, but much of the cost cutting that is taking place in the oil and gas sector is focused on contracted staff and on staff who work within the sector itself—it has not yet started to leach into the supply chain. There needs to be a bit more detail of what the impact of the resilience fund will be.

I appreciate that this is not about just the oil and gas sector. Lewis Macdonald was a little bit unfair to my colleague Adam Ingram and perhaps wilfully misinterpreted what he said; I do not think that he said that Labour should have called for the fund previously. I think, rather, that he was questioning why Labour had not called for it previously if it is such a good idea. The minister has outlined the £52 million employability fund and the £150 million of structural funds that are now available to provide the economic support for communities and regions that Lewis Macdonald highlighted.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Mark McDonald

I will if it is brief.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Mark McDonald

That is in the gift of Mr Macdonald. I give way to him on the basis that it will be.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Mark McDonald

We had a little exchange on the matter last week. The devil is always in the detail of how such a fund would be applied, in terms of how effective it would be. A large amount of Scottish Government and European Union money is available to Scotland that is doing a great deal of good already in supporting employability objectives in communities.

I welcome the minister’s remarks on the scale of redundancies. Although large-scale redundancies often grab the headlines, we should not forget that small-scale redundancies contain many individual stories and that the support that can be given to individuals and companies in those circumstances is just as valuable to local economies throughout Scotland.

16:07  

Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Mark McDonald

I am not clear that the Government has implied—and nor has any member who has spoken in the debate—that that is the case. No business in my constituency that has interacted with PACE has suggested that it has not received appropriate support either as an early intervention or at the redundancy stage, so I am curious to know where Siobhan McMahon drew that implication from.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)

Professor David Heald from the University of Aberdeen has given evidence on some of the complexities that might arise as a result of the devolution of tax powers, and we have seen an indication of that playing out in the process for introducing land and buildings transaction tax. The concern is that, because the Scottish Government consults early—indeed, as far as the Scottish rate of income tax is concerned, it has to notify the Treasury well in advance of the Treasury setting tax rates at a UK level—there could be gaming by the Treasury, particularly with regard to the assignation of VAT. Professor Heald suggested, for example, that when Scotland set its income tax level, the UK could reduce income tax but hike VAT. Such a move would, of course, have an impact on the rest of the UK, but because Scotland would be setting its own income tax rate as well as receiving assigned VAT revenues, it would not have the flexibility to deal with the situation. Do you share that concern? Moreover, what are your views on the Law Society of Scotland’s suggestion to the Finance Committee, on which I also serve, that a financial fair play agreement or clause is required to ensure that these kinds of scenarios do not arise?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Mark McDonald

I note that in its submission the Institute of Directors talks about the oil and gas fiscal regime, which is topical—it generally is topical, but it is topical all the time in the north-east of Scotland. Ross Martin mentioned the 2011 situation. In the current situation, one way to protect against job losses is through the introduction of key fiscal measures. For example, exploration credits, which Norway introduced in 2005, have been mooted.

In the submission, the Institute of Directors suggests

“a Scottish input to the tax on oil receipts”

and the oil and gas fiscal regime. Will you elaborate on how you would envisage the Scottish input working?



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)

As the cabinet secretary rightly outlined, the fiscal regime is critical in supporting the industry and ensuring that jobs can be protected. For example, exploration activity can be augmented by tax credits, on which I know that the Government has made a strong submission. At today’s meeting of the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee, the Institute of Directors backed the idea that action should be taken here and now, rather than waiting until the budget.

Has the cabinet secretary received any communication from the Treasury since the Scottish Government made its submission in relation to support for the oil and gas sector?



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)

On APD, did the CBI receive any input from airports? I do not have a list of CBI members in front of me, and I know that things have changed recently, but are any of the airports members of the CBI? I know from meeting representatives of my local airport that the airports are very keen for APD to be devolved, and devolved early.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
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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
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.
Not VotedCarried

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Mark McDonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12121: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12064: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12001: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11902: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11795: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11710: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11698: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11697: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11487: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11422: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Mark McDonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4F-02570: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03965: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03882: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23719: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23720: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23717: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03824: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23521: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23523: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23524: Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>

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