Angus MacDonald MSP

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Angus MacDonald MSP

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Parliamentary Activities

Member of the Scottish Commission for Public Audit

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Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate and, not least, to congratulate the petitioner, Peter Cherbi, on being bold enough to bring the petition to the Public Petitions Committee. Not many people are willing to take on the might of the judiciary.

As we have heard, the petition calls for all members of Scotland’s judiciary to be subject to a full and publicly available register of interests. It envisages the creation of a single, independently regulated publicly available source containing current information on judges’ backgrounds and financial interests, details of recusals and any other information that is routinely lodged in registers of interests across all walks of public life in the UK and further afield.

Given that we as elected members and legislators are expected and obliged to declare our interests, I do not see why members of Scotland’s judiciary should be treated any differently.

During our deliberations, the committee learned of a similar proposal in New Zealand, which the convener of the committee mentioned. A member’s bill sponsored by Green MP Dr Kennedy Graham was proceeding through the parliamentary process as we were deliberating on the petition. However, I believe that the bill was subsequently withdrawn following agreement with members of the House of Representatives and the New Zealand Government.

Dr Graham explained to our committee that the motivation for the bill was

“to seek to ensure that judges are assisted through institutional means, rather than relying purely on personal discretion & judgement, in determining whether they should handle a case or not. The bill would protect them from accusations or insinuations that their judgement was poor.”

It was envisaged that it would

“promote ... confidence in the judiciary”,

especially if it showed that the judicial system was above reproach.

Any member of the public watching the debate this afternoon would be entitled to ask, “What on earth is wrong with that?” As I have said, I would be inclined to agree with them.

However, it would seem that the judiciary is not exactly keen on the idea of such a register. I put on record my disappointment, as the committee as a whole did, at the lack of engagement between the full committee and the Lord President, Lord Gill. Given the spirit of openness and transparency that we in the Parliament so readily hold in high regard, it was a clear snub to the committee when Lord Gill refused to appear in public. If a register of interests is to be resisted by the judiciary, it must be borne in mind that nothing undermines public confidence in a nation’s institutions and procedures more than a suspicion that a public servant may have suffered a conflict of interest arising from, for example, a financial engagement in a particular dealing in which one was professionally involved.

I am not suggesting that anything untoward is going on anywhere, but surely, to ensure that no such suggestions can ever be made in future, we must look at creating a system that gives the general public peace of mind. Thankfully, accusations of bias are rare, but situations of perceived bias are not unknown.

I stress, in response to Jackson Carlaw’s comments, that the matter before us is not about having confidence in the judiciary but about ensuring that everything is above board. I note the minister’s comment that the current safeguards are sufficient and her observation that no amendments on the subject were lodged in advance of Tuesday’s stage 3 debate on the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill. However, as the decision is for Lord Gill, an amendment to that bill should not be required.

If we as elected members have to register and declare our interests, I see no reason why members of Scotland’s judiciary should not be subject to a full and publicly available register of judicial interests.

I once again congratulate Peter Cherbi on bringing the situation to the attention of the Parliament, and I hope that the Scottish Government and the Lord President will reconsider and take the petitioner’s suggestions on board, which would help to allay concerns among the wider public in Scotland.

16:06  

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

Good morning, minister. I believe that you used the word “mercifully” in the preamble to your comments on increasing support for a 40 per cent EU emissions reduction target by 2030. On the basis of the emissions projections in RPP2, we know that the only scenario that will result in the annual emissions targets being met every year up to 2020 is one in which all policies and proposals are implemented and the EU adopts a 30 per cent reduction target. Is the 30 per cent target off the table? What are the implications for Scotland’s ability to meet its annual targets in future, especially if a 40 per cent target does not materialise?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Angus MacDonald

It is not just other countries in the EU that have lower ambitions; that seems to be the case in the UK, too. There has been criticism of the Welsh Assembly Government’s climate change performance from Labour back benchers and a former environment minister, who have called for a statutory framework. Given the current trajectory, there are serious concerns that Wales will fail to reach its target of a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. Are you aware of the difficulties in Wales?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Angus MacDonald

With regard to the foreshore issue, how detailed are your foreshore ownership records? You have mentioned the Carloway estate and I know myself that there are crofts in the Western Isles that have foreshore rights, but how detailed is that information?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Angus MacDonald

When you say “my constituency”, are you talking about Falkirk East?



Public Petitions Committee 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

That was an excellent presentation from Jess Smith and Mr Russell.

I must admit, to my shame, that I was not aware of the Tinker’s Heart until I saw the petition. I must also admit that I was touched by Jess Smith’s heartfelt plea for proper recognition of the site.

I have read the briefing that members received prior to the meeting. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the landowner, Kate Howe, seems to be less than supportive. Some issues have been raised by the convener, but have either of you, or any local politicians, had face-to-face meetings with Ms Howe?



Public Petitions Committee 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Angus MacDonald

There is no harm in seeking clarification from the Scottish Government and contacting the suggested bodies, while we await consideration of the other petitions.



Public Petitions Committee 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Angus MacDonald

I am certainly loth to close the petition; it has some merit, in particularly in respect of the claims that major retailers are riding roughshod over independent retailers in some areas. I would certainly prefer to refer the petition to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee to allow it to incorporate it in the work that it is doing on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill.



Public Petitions Committee 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Angus MacDonald

I have spoken, convener; I said that I am loth to close the petition because it has some merits, especially in taking into account the view that major retailers are riding roughshod over independent retailers in certain areas of the country.



Public Petitions Committee 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Angus MacDonald

I am open to clarification, but I recall that a precedent was set with regard to the Scots pine, when the Forestry Commission conducted a consultation. I would be happy to go along with John Wilson’s suggestion that we contact the RSPB to see whether it is willing to undertake a consultation, and then we can bring it back.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

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

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

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

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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YesCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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NoDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Angus MacDonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11243: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11206: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11205: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11133: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11007: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11005: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10967: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10876: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10821: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10817: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Angus MacDonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
Question S4W-22576: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22507: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22504: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22503: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22506: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22505: Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2014 Show Full Question >>