Annabel Goldie MSP

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Annabel Goldie MSP

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Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con)

Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2014 : Thursday, December 18, 2014
Annabel Goldie

My understanding is that the spirit behind the Smith commission, with which the five parties were in agreement, is that “top-up” means what it says. We cannot top up something that is not there already. The understanding is that top-up will be an additional and supplementary support.

In addition, when the current work programme and work choice contracts expire, we will have a significant capacity to help the most vulnerable not only to find work and share in the wealth of a growing economy but to contribute to that economy.

I think that the Smith commission has done a good job in trying to balance responsibility and obligation. It means that we are protected against economic shocks, which are one of the difficulties of being overly responsible for expenditure in one part of the UK. The recent fall in oil prices has shown that an economic shock in one corner of the UK will not imperil a large proportion of a nation’s tax base or welfare spending.

For a long time, many members of this Parliament have been calling for more devolution of welfare to Holyrood. Now that the Smith agreement is out, it is clear that it reflects those calls. I want to move this debate on. Let us now talk about what we are going to achieve with the new powers rather than lament the ones that we do not have. We can innovate, we can create effective new policies, we can get away from stale, left-wing dogma and we can improve the welfare system in Scotland instead of blaming the existing one. I want to think that, in this respect, the blame game is in the past.



Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2014 : Thursday, December 18, 2014
Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con)

I am pleased to take part in this debate.

As I am a very recent arrival in the Welfare Reform Committee, my colleague Mr Johnstone will cover the reports to which he contributed as a committee member. I look forward to being on the committee and working with Mr McMahon. He may not know what to expect from me, but he might find himself pleasantly surprised. I hope that I can make a positive contribution to the committee’s work.

The committee has done and is doing very important work and is identifying important issues. One of the great roles of the committees of the Parliament is to consider, when work has been done and evidence has been produced, what can be done to use that leverage or discoveries to influence change. That is where the committee may have a very important role to play.

I want to focus on the Smith commission report, which I am a little more familiar with than I am with the work of the Welfare Reform Committee. As Mr McMahon said, that report implies substantial changes. It is three weeks to the day since it was published. In tune with the new theme of consensus in the Parliament, I have enjoyed the positive response to it, which has been obvious from all the five political parties that are represented in the chamber. I accept that the minister’s party considers that it does not go far enough, although at the same time her colleague Nicola Sturgeon has gone out of her way to say that she thinks that what has been delivered by Smith is positive.

I remember that, when I first came to the Parliament, there was a huge sense of excitement and optimism about how the Parliament would operate and would use its new powers. I detect in the Holyrood air that those same feelings are brewing now—there is a mixture of excitement, anticipation and ambition. The question that we are all asking ourselves and one another is: what can we do with the new powers to improve life in Scotland?

As we talk about the Welfare Reform Committee’s latest reports, it is timely to look at the Smith proposals and ask what the committee and the Parliament can look forward to achieving with the new powers. As we know, an element of devolution on welfare has already occurred, arising out of the Welfare Reform Act 2012. On Tuesday, the Parliament debated stage 1 of the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill, a debate to which my colleague Mr Johnstone contributed. It is good that the Parliament is taking the opportunity to put an interim arrangement on to a statutory footing.

I know that not everyone will agree with me—that is pretty clear from the speeches that we have heard already—but the aim of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 was to reform the benefits system and introduce a new system that is fairer, simpler and more affordable. Although I accept that not every aspect of the reforms has been well received—that is pretty clear—I have to make the important point that it would be hard to find opposition anywhere to the principle that the system needed reform. Most acknowledge that reform was necessary and overdue.

I fully acknowledge that the issues then become ones of the implementation and management of change. That is where the committee is doing important work. The whole point of the reform is to help people to get back into work, to reduce dependency on the state and, in tandem with increased personal allowances and changes to the tax system, to enable people to make individual choices about what they do with their money, rather than simply having to hand it to the taxman to be given it back in the form of prescribed benefits.

I know that the Scottish Parliament does not always see eye to eye with Westminster but, beyond the rhetoric, there is an important point. The political landscape is different here and, more importantly, our electors in Scotland have a different set of needs. I recognise that they have different preferences from those of other members of the family of nations that is the United Kingdom. Therefore, the time between now and the delivery of the Parliament’s new powers is when the hard work should start. We should debate how we can design a welfare system for Scotland within the United Kingdom, bearing in mind that, back in September, we voted to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom.

My party will contribute to that debate. I want a system that is compassionate and flexible and one that is effective in helping people into work. I want a system that measures itself not by the size of the welfare bill but by how many people are helped back to work and can then support themselves and contribute to the broader economy.

I am excited about how the Parliament will manage its new competencies. There are proposals in the Smith agreement on disability living allowance, the personal independence payment and the regulated social fund as well as on the ability to top up existing benefits and create new ones. Those are real, exciting and important choices.



Meeting of the Parliament 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con)

The agreement by all five parties on the Smith commission to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote in Scottish Parliament elections was a very welcome and constructive development, and I am glad that the First Minister found her recent meeting with the Prime Minister in that respect positive and constructive. How does the Scottish Government propose to maintain and grow that positive relationship with the United Kingdom Government?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Annabel Goldie

To deal with the actual powers, not the dreams and aspirations of another party’s constitutional future, I have two short questions for the Deputy First Minister.

First, the First Minister has expressed her enthusiasm for a 50p tax rate. Is that a floor or a ceiling?

Secondly, the Smith agreement identified a specific issue in relation to the Scottish Parliament: its ability to hold the Scottish Government to account. That becomes more pressing with the prospect of such a wide-ranging transfer of further powers to the Scottish Parliament. Is the Deputy First Minister in principle hostile to the proposal that some key committees should be chaired by Opposition MSPs?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con)

I echo what the Deputy First Minister and Iain Gray said about the process. I take this opportunity to place on the record in this Parliament my thanks to Lord Smith and the secretariat from both Governments. There cannot be a shadow of a doubt that, in the complex and difficult discussions that we had to have, the quality of the data made available to us was second to none.

As a participant, I know that the process was challenging and stimulating. It was certainly robust and at times it was fiery, but it was enjoyable, and that was in no small measure due to the sage, patient and shrewd chairmanship of Lord Smith.

I accept that it is unwelcome to members on the SNP benches that the Smith agreement was always going to be about devolution. It was never going to be about independence. I guess that their reaction is predictable. I suppose that the Smith agreement could have delivered a crown for the First Minister, Scottish passports and heaven knows what else and they would still not be satisfied. It would not be enough.

I thought that the First Minister’s reaction to what is a sweeping transfer of new powers to this Parliament was—it is not a word that I would use about her readily—verging on the nebbie. I thought that the Deputy First Minister was, if I may say so, uncharacteristically acidic, as though something very sour had passed his lips. I think that what passed his lips was the recognition that this is a powerful, effective, implementable package of devolved measures for this Parliament.

The agreement is a constitutional development of huge significance, because by common assent, with the exception of the SNP, the proposed changes are more wide ranging and powerful than was expected. Scotland will now raise more than 60 per cent of what she spends and will be among the most powerful sub-legislatures in the world.

The SNP reaction to all this confirms the reality. I think that it knows that the Smith agreement shot its fox. [Interruption.]



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 06 November 2014 : Thursday, November 06, 2014
Annabel Goldie

Singular. It was a generic reference.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 06 November 2014 : Thursday, November 06, 2014
Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con)

I would like to praise Andrew’s patience with carnaptious old ladies, which was quite exemplary.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con)

This short but useful debate has highlighted two issues that are in themselves separate but which are from time to time interwoven: first, the creation of a single police force and secondly, the position of the Scottish Government in general and the cabinet secretary in particular.

The creation of a single police force was never going to be without controversy, and anyone who thought otherwise was naive. Some people disagreed with the proposal and found it to be it fundamentally flawed. Others, including my party, accepted the concept, but recognised that substantive measures would be required to allay legitimate worries.

The concentration of so much power, control and authority in one organisation that happened to be the law enforcement body of Scotland was always going to raise significant issues. In the absence of those issues being addressed, my party declined to support the creation of a single force, but it is quite wrong to equate that position with saying that Police Scotland is intrinsically flawed and is not doing a good job.

The difficulty for Police Scotland, the chief constable and his officers is that having a single police force without external accountability to, say, elected commissioners makes it political, as night follows day. If Police Scotland’s accountability is to a quango—the Scottish Police Authority—which is in turn accountable to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, how can Police Scotland be anything other than political?

The public, constituents and community organisations will raise their concerns with MSPs, and the only place to which we can bring those concerns is here to Parliament. We cannot say, “Oh no, we mustn’t do that, because the cabinet secretary and the chief constable won’t like it. That’s making Police Scotland a political football and interfering with police operations.” What complete and utter nonsense. That confrontational stand-off could have been avoided, bypassed and buffered by the introduction of elected commissioners. There is an accountability deficit, and the cabinet secretary has been in denial about it, through obstinately ignoring concerns and arrogantly dismissing critics.

Why does that matter, and what are the concerns? Let us start with stop and search. It has emerged this year that there seems to be an informal target culture in the single police force, which over a one-year period to the end of March conducted nearly 640,700 stop and searches. That figure is three times higher than the number of searches that were carried out by the Metropolitan Police in London, where the population is over 8 million. How can that Scottish response be proportionate? The issue was raised in Parliament, and action was instigated. Moreover, only after it was raised in this Parliament was the routine carrying of sidearms by some officers revoked.

Police Scotland has had many successes. However, the increase of 1,000 additional officers from 2007 levels was not down to the cabinet secretary, who wanted only 500 more. It was down to the Scottish Conservatives. I am in no doubt that the extra officers have played a major role in reducing crime levels.

That success neither eliminates nor mitigates on-going concerns about accountability, which have to be laid at the feet of their genesis: the cabinet secretary. Add to that what I view as the shambolic proposal to abolish corroboration, and regrettably—it is regrettable—I find the cabinet secretary’s stewardship of his portfolio unimpressive. I, too—and again with regret—urge him to consider his position.

16:04  

Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con)

Given that the main adjustment to the amounts received under Barnett will be consequent upon this Parliament being given increased powers to raise income tax, what will the Scottish Government’s priorities be in relation to income tax? Will its priority be to lower tax rates or to increase them?



Meeting of the Parliament 23 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con)

As is already clear, all of us will have different recollections of the referendum campaign and different reactions to the result. It is important that in this Parliament of all places we are responsible in what we say and careful in how we say it.

On the campaign itself, it is true that the number of voters registered and the turnout of 85 per cent reflect a degree of electoral engagement that is unprecedented. On an issue of this importance, that was reassuring and welcome.

Of course I accept that on a single issue voters will find it easier to respond. I do hope that that level of interest is reflected in the more complex territory of multiple parties fighting elections on different manifestos.

I will not dwell on the campaign. Like many, I have received numerous anecdotes of conduct that was inappropriate and unimpressive. I heard directly from no voters who were scared to display window posters or wear lapel stickers. If they were justified in that apprehension, that is certainly not the political climate that I want to see in Scotland.

Democracy is underpinned by freedom of opinion and freedom of expression, with respect for those who hold opinions with which we disagree. If we depart from that with self-indulgent displays of venom and contempt, democracy is dis-served and our country diminished. From my perspective, I very much enjoyed the campaign. It was a positive experience, and my front-room windows and stickered car remained intact, but I know at first-hand how the debate divided Scotland. As passions ran high, fissures ran deep in families, communities, the workplace and among friends.

I turn to the result. Voters in Scotland decisively rejected independence and endorsed the partnership of the United Kingdom. That is the clear and democratic outcome of the referendum and the sovereign will of Scottish voters. This is not about triumph and victory posited against dejection and defeat; it is about allowing Scotland to have her say on an issue of unparalleled importance, hearing what she said, accepting that verdict and moving on.

The Edinburgh agreement was framed in the knowledge that one side or the other would be deeply disappointed. That is why, as the First Minister said, the agreement, which was signed by him and the Prime Minister, explicitly confirmed that both Governments would respect the outcome. On both sides, we now have to implement the spirit of that agreement. We need to do that because the democratic will obliges us to do it, because it is the right thing to do and, most important of all, because, for the sake of Scotland, we must move forward into a new era.

I do not want to diminish what I know is a deep sense of disappointment and dismay felt by those in the SNP and all the other parties and people who were involved in the yes campaign. There will be a sense of exhaustion, deflation and dejection. I am not unfamiliar with electoral defeat—I have known the heat and anguish of searing electoral defeat. We are all in politics for positive reasons, not negative ones. In our different parties, we espouse different approaches to the great public services of health, education and justice and different approaches to enterprise, the economy, the environment and climate change.

In a debate of the magnitude of the independence referendum, greater attention has been focused on constitutional issues than on any other issue. That was inevitable, as we can do only so much at any one time. There is now a huge responsibility on the Scottish Government to pick up the devolution baton and start running with it. What is the state of the health service? Why is there such concern about accident and emergency departments? Are we filling GP vacancies in rural areas and, if not, what are we doing about it? With an anticipated £0.5 billion cut to the health budget, what is the priority health plan?

Are the merged colleges producing what local economies and communities need? Are young people and those who want to update skills to return to the workplace being failed by the disappearance of part-time college courses? What is the true state of the stability of the finances of our Scottish universities? How many eligible Scottish students are failing to be placed in a Scottish university?

How do we translate the great legacy of the Commonwealth games into quantifiable progress on addressing obesity and physical inactivity among young people, and how do we measure that?

The range of significant and unanswered questions in devolved Scotland is vast. Those are the questions to which the Scottish Government must now turn and which the Opposition parties must pursue and harry the Government on to get answers. However much we discuss the result of the referendum and ponder the implications of the result, that result did something, which was to make crystal clear the renewed obligation of the Parliament to Scotland. We should discharge that obligation. We should serve our country.

15:44  
Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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YesDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
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NoCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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NoCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
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NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Annabel Goldie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11843: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10422: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10309: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09934: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09844: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09748.2: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09714: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 10/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09431: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08887: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08695: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Annabel Goldie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03528: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03491: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03445: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03371: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03318: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21259: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03180: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03165: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03119: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 14/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02871: Annabel Goldie, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/01/2014 Show Full Question >>

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