Angus MacDonald MSP

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Member of the Scottish Commission for Public Audit

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Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

I am pleased to speak in today’s debate on food and drink, not least because, as members can probably tell, I am no stranger to the first-class food and drink that Scotland has to offer. The cabinet secretary said that waistlines have increased by an average of 2 inches in recent years; in my case it is sadly well above that average, but there is always hope—and, of course, willpower.

I am pleased that the Scottish Government’s recipe for success has indeed been a success since 2009. I look forward to the becoming a good food nation initiative being rolled out, along with the whole-hearted participation of everyone in Scotland, which will be necessary.

My constituency of Falkirk East—and the wider Falkirk district—plays its part already: we can boast an impressive number of notable food retailers and producers. In Falkirk East, there are companies with international operations such as Caledonian Produce in Bo’ness, part of the Bakkavor Group, which produces ready-made salads solely for Marks and Spencer using locally sourced ingredients. The state-of-the-art Whyte and Mackay bottling plant is in Grangemouth.

The cabinet secretary will recall visiting Bakkavor-Caledonian Produce following its further expansion in 2012, and I hope that he will also be available to visit Whyte and Mackay’s state-of-the-art bottling plant at some point in the near future, as I have recently received confirmation from the chief executive officer that the plant will remain in operation following the purchase by Philippines-based Emperador Distillers.

My constituency is not just a home for industrialisation and big business; it is also home to a wide range of small food and drink companies and new starts, such as the Grangemouth-based Caledonian Cheesecake Company, the Tablet Company and a new whisky distillery outside Polmont, which was made possible by a generous grant from the Scottish Government. The Falkirk Distillery Company, which has the plant half-built at the moment, is expected to provide 86 full-time jobs and to attract 75,000 visitors, on the back of the world-class attractions of the Kelpies, the Helix and the Falkirk wheel.

When debating Scottish food and drink and the Government’s plan for Scotland to become a good food nation, we must remember all aspects of our food heritage, good and bad, and acknowledge the impact that they have on our culture.

Falkirk is, famously, the original home of Scotland’s other national drink, Irn-Bru. It is now produced in my colleague Jamie Hepburn’s constituency but, originally, it was produced in Falkirk, from 1901. The drink is enjoyed by millions worldwide and is a true Scottish success story but, arguably, it does not meet the healthy standards that are encouraged by the Scottish Government.

Nor, I suspect, would one of Mathiesons’ legendary sausage rolls. Mathiesons Bakery has been trading in the Falkirk district since 1872 and is now based in Larbert, near Mrs Tilly’s traditional Scottish confectionery and Malcolm Allan the butchers. With encouragement from the Scottish Government, Malcolm Allan has produced a healthier burger and a lower-calorie sausage, and sells more than 1 million pies and more than 20 million Lorne sausages each year—some of which I have to confess have been consumed by me, but purely in the interest of supporting the local economy.

The list of successful food and drink companies in Falkirk district goes on. It is one of the most industrialised areas in Scotland, right in the middle of the central belt. The food and drink industry in Scotland is in a very healthy position, and these good news success stories of companies large and small, old and new are in no small part due to the support of the Scottish Government through initiatives such as recipe for success and the forthcoming 2015 year of food and drink.

However, there are challenges to overcome, and more can and should be achieved. As a former wholesale and retail butcher, I know at first hand that food and drink is an industry with a keen eye on price. Profit margins can be small, which can be challenging, especially in manufacturing, as supermarkets can negotiate ruthlessly and then take up to three months to pay out.

As we move into 2015 and launch the year of food and drink, we must keep it in mind that, by volume and value, Scotland has some of the largest protected food names in the European Union, with high-value products such as Scotch beef and Scottish farmed salmon accounting for around £700 million in sales.

Sadly, revenue generated by Scotch beef and other Scottish red meat could be much greater, if only the Westminster Government would give Scotland a fair deal. Members will recall my motion last year and the debate earlier this year regarding the red meat levy. It highlighted that the Prime Minister and the UK Government have refused to return the levy paid by Scotland’s livestock producers who have cattle, sheep and pigs slaughtered in the rest of the UK. That is believed to cost Quality Meat Scotland £1.4 million a year. I thank the members who supported my motion. However, I was disappointed that it did not receive cross-party support.

Red meat is not the only area of food and drink where Scotland would be better off if we could get a fair deal from Westminster. Scotland exports vast quantities of whisky around the world, in particular to developing markets in the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China. These exports of a product that is entirely made in Scotland with Scottish ingredients see more than £4.3 billion going to the Westminster Exchequer. That is a travesty, which I am sure the Scottish Government will continue to work to correct.

It is time for Scotland to stop hiding its light under a bushel and to step forward to claim its rightful place as one of the world’s best food and drink producers. Scotland’s food and drink tourism industry is worth around £2.5 million per day, as we heard earlier. It is a market with great potential for growth, and it is one that I am sure the year of food and drink and the approach in “Becoming a Good Food Nation” will greatly improve.

As always, I have more to say but, sadly, my time is running out, so I will draw my comments to a close.

15:10  

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Angus MacDonald

Yes, and the specific organisations that would be acceptable.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Angus MacDonald

Should the definition that is acceptable to ministers be in the bill?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Angus MacDonald

I want to explore the definition of “community” a bit further. Are there other methods by which a community might be defined? I am thinking of arts organisations, for example. An arts organisation in my constituency is a keen supporter of the bill. Charities and ethnic groups are other examples of communities of interest. I think that you have already mentioned allotment societies, and I would be interested to hear your view on the inclusion of community councils or common grazings committees, which might have some abandoned land nearby.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Angus MacDonald

Is the use of postcode units too general or too restrictive a way of defining a community, particularly in light of the proposed extension of the community right to buy to urban Scotland?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Angus MacDonald

Good morning, panel. We know from our briefing that section 34 of the 2003 act provides that the only type of legal entity that can apply to register a community interest in land is a company limited by guarantee. The 2003 act also provides for the use of postcode units in order to define the community that a community body can represent. Section 28 of the bill allows for Scottish charitable incorporated organisations—or SCIOs—to be included, stipulating that they must have no fewer than 20 members.

What are the practical implications of the extension to include SCIOs? What other types of bodies might ministers specify by regulation?

11:45  

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

Good morning, minister. Over the past couple of years, we have had serious tree health issues in Scotland, not least ash dieback and Phytophthora ramorum, to name but two. In evidence to the committee on the draft budget, RSPB Scotland highlighted the importance of the Forestry Commission’s monitoring and research work with regard to tree health. However, it also stated that

“the scale of these programmes needs to be enhanced.”

Other evidence stressed the importance of work on tree and plant health. Nigel Miller, the out-going president of NFUS, told the committee:

“Another basic issue is plant health and research, for which there is a flat budget. We seem to be facing a minor crisis as far as tree diseases go.”—[Official Report, Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, 5 November 2014; c 42.]

Can you explain the full provision for tree health in the budget and reassure the committee and stakeholders that it will be sufficient to meet future challenges with regard to tree and plant diseases?



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Angus MacDonald

Does the First Minister agree that if we are a “family of nations”, as David Cameron has described the UK, it is only right that the UK Government should respect the devolution settlement as it affects foreign policy, particularly on issues of such importance to Scotland as fisheries, in the same way as states such as Belgium have done for some time?



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
3. Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

To ask the First Minister what response he has received from the Prime Minister to his recent correspondence regarding European Council fisheries negotiations. (S4F-02378)



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Angus MacDonald

I certainly agree with Dave Thompson. As Patrick Krause of the Scottish Crofting Federation stated in his response to the minister’s letter, a number of unanswered questions remain. The committee needs more details on the

“intentions on the funding of wild goose control”.

I put it on the record that I am pleased that the minister has acknowledged the Salmonella and listeria risks from large numbers of geese congregating in fields. However, I think that they are more common than he believes.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
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YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
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NoDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
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YesCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
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YesCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Angus MacDonald
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Motion S4M-11678: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11677: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11671: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11667: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11658: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11657: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11619: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11582: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11541: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11503: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Angus MacDonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03764: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23395: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23168: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23143: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23137: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02378: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22763: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22727: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22635: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00796: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>