Alex Fergusson MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Alex Fergusson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

The member’s speech so far, along with many speeches from his back-bench colleagues, tends to suggest that there is no desire among the unionist parties in the Parliament to deliver extra powers for the Parliament. Can he point to one speech by a Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat member that suggests that that is the case?



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Alex Fergusson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

I have to say that, if she did nothing else in her opening contribution, Nicola Sturgeon undoubtedly and robustly underlined her credentials as the First Minister in waiting when she steadfastly and deftly refused to answer Murdo Fraser’s pretty simple question on whether “once in a lifetime” actually meant what it said. She has clearly served her apprenticeship well, although it does not give me a lot of comfort that we are going to achieve much more clarity at future First Minister’s question times than we have done in the past. Nonetheless—



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Alex Fergusson

I am just about to become gallant, Mr Swinney: I nonetheless wish Nicola Sturgeon well when she takes on the role of First Minister.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Alex Fergusson

I am genuinely delighted to be winding up the debate this evening for the Scottish Conservatives, because the subject of enhanced powers for this Parliament is one in which I have long held a keen interest. From the very outset of the Parliament in 1999 it has seemed to me that we have suffered from what I can only call an accountability deficit in terms of how we spend our budget; a process that the late and very much lamented David McLetchie used to point out regularly was more of a redistribution exercise than a genuine budget, especially given that the allocation for the vast majority of the available funding is pre-determined anyway.

That accountability deficit is what has allowed successive Scottish Governments to pick the low-hanging fruit of free prescriptions, free bus transport for the over-60s and free this and free that, while simultaneously being able to point the finger of blame at Westminster whenever they have come under financial pressure. That system, expedient though it undoubtedly is for those in the Government, does nothing to make me or any other member of this Parliament truly accountable to our electorate, which surely is one of the basic principles of democracy. Without embracing the principle of accountability whole-heartedly, we are not, in my view, really a properly functioning Parliament. I look forward eagerly to the day that that accountability deficit is finally addressed, as I hope that it will be.

I had the great pleasure of working with Tavish Scott and Duncan McNeil on the devo plus group. I was always keen to be involved in that initiative because, as soon as it became clear that we were to have a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future, I was convinced that the electorate would demand—and, indeed, deserve—to know what would be what I can only call the consequences of a no vote, with the consequences of a yes vote being fairly obvious. I felt that the devo plus proposals provided a pretty good starting point—a basis—for a long-term, sustainable constitutional settlement that could take us many decades into the future.

Not for a minute did I agree with every last detail of devo plus, and I do not believe that my two parliamentary colleagues did either, but it was a carefully costed and fully appraised proposal that provided a possible way forward following a no vote in the referendum. Now that we have had that no vote, despite the full resources of the Government being thrown into the campaign for independence—



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Alex Fergusson

The full resources of the Scottish Government were thrown into the campaign to convince the people of Scotland to vote for independence, but the people decisively rejected that option, preferring instead to secure Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future.

There is no mistake about that—it is clear—and that has to be our starting point in the debate. The consequences of the no vote are now also clear in that the process is under way—with commendable speed, as Murdo Fraser noted—to try to secure that long-term sustainable constitutional future. It falls to Lord Smith and his commission to bring that about. That is an onerous responsibility, and it surely falls on every participant in the commission to work with equal passion and vigour to bring about a successful outcome.

As a member of the Strathclyde commission, I naturally commend its recommendations as a sound starting point in the process, but this debate should not have been about the minutiae of what should and should not be devolved or about individual parties’ proposals, much as some members wanted it to be. I regret that that has been the case because, as some members have pointed out, that is the work of the Smith commission, not this Parliament. Rather, the debate should have been about the broad principles and the desire to work together towards a genuinely positive outcome that will deliver what the majority of the Scottish people have robustly voted for.

Like Richard Simpson, who made an exceptionally good speech, I was enormously heartened by the statement that Lord Smith issued at the end of the commission’s first meeting last week. Three points in particular caught my attention: first, that the eventual outcome will strengthen the Scottish Parliament within the UK; secondly, that it will bring about a durable but responsive constitutional settlement that maintains Scotland’s place within the UK; and, thirdly, that it will not cause detriment to the UK as a whole or its constituent parts. Those three principles are hugely important, because they signal an end to the “We was robbed” rhetoric that has, in my view, received far too much publicity of late.

If all those sitting round Lord Smith’s table really have signed up and committed to those principles, we can all be truly optimistic about a positive outcome and an infinitely better and more accountable devolutionary settlement than the one under which we currently operate.

I hope that I misunderstood the Deputy First Minister when she seemed to suggest in her opening speech that, unless Lord Smith delivers her definition of devo max, she will find his recommendations unacceptable.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Alex Fergusson

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

I appreciate that, because I was going to say that I would give the Deputy First Minister the benefit of the doubt, as she went on to agree that the process will require give and take. It will require a willingness to compromise, as Alex Rowley said. We need to accept that no single participant will walk away from the commission with all their preferred options having been met. That is inevitable.

The prize at the end of the day is simply massive. Smith is not Calman mark 2. It is not a cross-party response to an electoral outcome—we are talking about Scotland’s future, in which we all have an equal interest and about which we are all equally passionate, as I hope members will agree. That future rests in the hands of Lord Smith, and I am sure that I am not alone in wishing him well as he goes about his work. If he gets it right, I believe that the Government’s still preferred option of independence can be put to bed, not just for Nicola Sturgeon’s lifetime but for several lifetimes after that.

17:09  

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Alex Fergusson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

Good morning. The field of agriculture is expected to play quite a large part in the process. The minister has already mentioned the farming for a better climate initiative and the fertiliser efficiency measures that are envisaged within RPP2. Of course, great store is also set by future technological developments to deliver carbon savings.

All those measures require voluntary uptake and a great deal of voluntary input. Without a really good method of monitoring and evaluating how all those things are taken up, it must be extremely difficult to attribute any resultant carbon savings. Can the minister expand a little bit on what plans the Government has to monitor the various initiatives? Is there an idea that the initiatives will have to change from proposals to policies to make them more effective? Will that take away the voluntary element, as some measures might have to become compulsory?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Alex Fergusson

I am grateful to the minister for that explanation. I do not wish in any way to undermine the value of the initiatives that are being put in place. However, to specify a particular initiative, I note that a great deal of weight is given to the idea that 90 per cent uptake of the fertiliser efficiency measures will start in 2018, and in all the documentation and the forecasts, an allocation of carbon saving is given to that measure. How on earth do we know that there is going to be 90 per cent uptake? I appreciate that it is a guess, but unless there is really effective monitoring, it will be impossible to know what the uptake is. You have sort of answered that, but will you comment on it?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Alex Fergusson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

Is the cabinet secretary aware that many of my constituents in the west of my constituency, particularly in Stranraer, are concerned that as the development of the Dumfries hospital takes place, the run-down of services that are currently available through Stranraer hospital might continue? Will the cabinet secretary assure me that he will work with the local health board to ensure that the range of services that is currently available in Stranraer continues to be available as the new hospital is established?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 01 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Alex Fergusson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

In the notes that accompany this bit of subordinate legislation, there is the phrase

“In order to benefit business by having as much uniformity between Scots, English and Northern Ireland law as possible”,

which suggests that there might be examples of where that level of uniformity is not possible. Is that just a useful phrase, or are you aware of any examples of where we cannot have the desired level of uniformity? If there are such examples, how might that affect the legislation in the future?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

 
NoDefeated

 
YesDefeated

 
NoCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
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NoCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
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NoCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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NoCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
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NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Alex Fergusson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11093: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10562.1: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09617: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09572: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09425: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08943: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08857.1: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08278: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07892.2: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07061: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Alex Fergusson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03485: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03416: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03369: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03322: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03261: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 14/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03197: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 30/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20685: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 08/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20317: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 21/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20316: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 21/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20315: Alex Fergusson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 21/03/2014 Show Full Question >>

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