Claudia Beamish MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

Does the member agree that, within Scotland, it is important that freight is moved increasingly from road on to rail? She will know the arguments for doing that as well as I do.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

I am glad that the cabinet secretary has called the debate particularly, as many members have pointed out, as we move towards the year of food and drink 2015.

Members throughout the chamber have highlighted the huge importance of food and drink and the food and drink sector. We have some of the highest-quality products, from shellfish to Scottish whisky, which are exported all over the world. From the Springbank to the Valhalla breweries, Mike MacKenzie’s tour is enticing. There has been a wee bit of competition between the different constituencies, not least Paisley of course, about where the best tours might be. I simply suggest that members ask VisitScotland to put all the constituency tours on to its website, because I am sure that tourists and people in Scotland would much enjoy them all.

I take this opportunity to welcome the publication of “Becoming a Good Food Nation”. As the cabinet secretary said in his ministerial foreword, it is vital that we address the paradox of having such high-quality food products while having a generally unhealthy relationship with food.

We must acknowledge and tackle food—and fuel—poverty, as that is a challenging issue for many families. As Rhoda Grant said, food banks must be made a thing of the past. We must make that happen in 2015. That is the responsibility of us all in the chamber and far beyond. As the cabinet secretary says, that is unfinished business.

In “Becoming a Good Food Nation”, the cabinet secretary stresses the need for a commitment from all to change, emphasising public food, local food and children’s food.

Liam McArthur highlighted the contribution of the previous Scottish Executive to the agricultural strategy. It is important to focus on how we produce food in the first place. Our farmers do us a great service by growing crops and raising animals on a commercial scale. The new CAP arrangements must allow them to continue to do that but in an increasingly sustainable way.

Many farmers have taken on the climate challenge. In the period leading up to the CAP review in 2017, it is essential that all farmers work to reduce their emissions. With 20 per cent of greenhouse emissions coming from agriculture, the use of public money through CAP payments means that there is an expectation that the public good is equally as important as production. That can be voluntary with the right Government support, but it will need to become mandatory if results are not seen rapidly.

I want to highlight smaller-scale food production models that other members have discussed as well. Those can yield positive results in many ways. Community growing projects can have a significant benefit for communities not just by producing food but by creating enjoyable spaces for people to congregate and by improving biodiversity. Biodiversity can be greatly improved by growing organic fruit and vegetables without potentially harmful pesticides such as neonicotinoids, meaning that bees and other pollinators are able to thrive, as mentioned by Jamie McGrigor and Nigel Don.

I am pleased to say that the Scottish Government has supported organic production in its latest Scotland rural development programme, particularly as Scotland is at the bottom of the European table for organic consumption and near the bottom for production. With the organic market flourishing in countries such as France, where it has doubled in size over the past five years, I am sure that members will agree that there is some catching up to do.

Whitmuir Organics, in my region, has led the way with its commitment to organic produce, and the cabinet secretary was at the launch of its community farm share offer. Whitmuir has been able to develop living learning space as a resource to encourage schoolchildren, farmers and the general public to learn about sustainable food and farming. Peebles CAN is another group in South Scotland. It is a not-for-profit, community-based organisation with the aim of promoting local and seasonal food and reducing food waste—an important issue that is highlighted in the RSPB Scotland briefing for the debate. RSPB Scotland states:

“Post-plate wastage in the UK amounts to almost a quarter of the total food bought.”

As Alex Rowley highlighted, the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill will help with access to allotments and other community projects. It will also aid communities in purchasing land to grow on. The petition that is before the Scottish Parliament on the right to grow makes a contribution to that way forward as well.

As well as the production of food, the means by which it is distributed is important, as a number of members have stressed. As the Labour amendment highlights, fresh, affordable and local food is essential. The NFU Scotland briefing recognises the importance of short supply chains, especially to

“ensure more transparency and a fairer distribution of margin throughout”.

Short supply chains, which connect producers more closely with consumers, bring many benefits and strengthen rural communities because producers retain more of the retail price and create more jobs per meal. They involve less-processed and often healthier products, and they can drive up the environmental and animal welfare standards because customers know more about how their food is produced.

Margaret McDougall stressed the importance of shared container arrangements from the islands through collaboration in taste of Arran. Members may be aware that Nourish Scotland, which has been instrumental in promoting short supply chains, has also argued for their use as a means of reducing food poverty by connecting low-income urban communities directly with primary producers.

The need to know how to cook fresh produce has been highlighted by many members, and it is a challenge in our busy lives. However, growing, preparing and cooking food can be therapeutic processes that help our wellbeing, whether they involve herbs from a window box or tatties from the allotment. When I taught at Abington primary school, we formed a parents and kids group for cooking. That is one way forward that is replicated in many constituencies and should be supported by the Scottish Government.

Rob Gibson highlighted the Soil Association’s food for life Scotland initiative. There will be further reports on how many councils are now gaining the food for life gold standard for school meals when he holds his event in the near future.

In relation to integrated vertical supply chains, co-operatives are an important way forward. Scottish shellfish farmers on the northern coasts bring their products to a factory in Bellshill. That is an effective co-op with control of operations by members making decisions.

I invite the cabinet secretary, in his closing remarks, to say something in response to Alex Fergusson’s comments about the aquaculture industry and whether its targets still fit with sustainable development. I seek reassurance on that.

Protected status is essential, as is highlighted by the example of the Stornoway black pudding, which was mentioned by Rhoda Grant. As Stewart Stevenson said, brands are promises. From whisky to microbrews and from salmon to steak, we have a fine food story to tell. Nevertheless, in closing, I recall the words of Cara Hilton:

“we need a food system that is not only environmentally sustainable but socially just. Only when we meet that aspiration can Scotland truly proclaim itself a good food nation.”

I believe that 2015 is the time for that to happen.

16:49  

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

Good morning to you and your officials, minister. I want to take you back to question 1. You raised the issue of the new macroeconomic model, which I very much welcome, as I think it will be helpful. However, I am not clear how it will help with drilling down to level 4 figures during the budget process. I do not understand how it would speed that up. Can you clarify that for me? It would be helpful to understand the relationship between the two things.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Claudia Beamish

Thank you.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Claudia Beamish

Thank you, convener, but my question was about agroforestry—or silvopasture, depending on one’s perspective—and the minister has highlighted the issue, for which I am grateful.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Claudia Beamish

For the record, I highlight the fact that there is a statutory obligation on us all to consider supporting the groups of people with protected characteristics. The committee deliberated on the matter and has decided that, without excluding other groups, we will consider the issue of age this time.

Last week, we received some interesting evidence from the forest policy group, and I will read from it so as to remind us all. There is a particular emphasis here on young people—but not exclusively. The forest policy group’s submission said:

“FPG supports the idea of Forestry Commission providing opportunities for new entrants to farming but encourages the Forestry Commission to develop parallel ideas on how to extend the tenure and management of forests to sectors of society who have effectively been excluded from involvement in forestry in the past. The focus for encouraging new entrants to forestry should not be solely on communities (though this is important), but should also include people of ordinary means, especially those living in rural areas. FPG considers that this is sufficiently important to warrant featuring in the aims of the budget alongside the mention of new entrants to farming.”

I wonder whether you could comment on that, minister. How might that be taken forward?

11:00  

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Claudia Beamish

Bearing in mind the fact that that work is all about leasing—unless I am wrong—are there any opportunities for supporting the purchase of forest land from the Forestry Commission that relate to young and new entrants? If not, could that be considered?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Claudia Beamish

Ian Turner has already touched briefly on the nature of the land in which an interest may be registered. At present, as I understand it, the right-to-buy provisions in part 2 of the 2003 act apply only to community bodies that represent rural areas that have a population of less than 10,000. Section 27 of the bill will amend the definition of registrable land and the power of Scottish ministers to define excluded land, which has been mentioned in relation to housing, but there may be other categories as well, so the community right to buy would now apply across Scotland.

I would like to explore further with the bill team how community confidence, cohesion and sustainability will be affected by extending the community right to buy, and what evidence demonstrates that. Although the 2013 consultation demonstrated widespread support, as has been highlighted, for extension of the community right to buy, what evidence is there that the new right to buy will be used? That is a neutral question.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Claudia Beamish

I have two brief supplementary questions. First, are there any practical problems with extending the community right to buy to urban areas? For example, how will ministers differentiate between conflicting applications for the same piece of land or building?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Claudia Beamish

That clarification is helpful. Thank you.

My other question is about the time within which community bodies must re-register. The land reform review group suggests in its written evidence that re-registration be required every 10 years rather than every five years. Do you have any comments on adopting that longer timeframe? Are there any other ways in which we might make re-registration of land less onerous, bearing in mind that we are talking about community groups?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

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

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

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

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 Claudia Beamish
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11029.4: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10860: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10750: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09836.1: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09603: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09551: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 31/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09280.1: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09223: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08993: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08835: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Claudia Beamish
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03691: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03632: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03585: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03516: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22519: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22442: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22441: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03439: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22055: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22053: Claudia Beamish, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/07/2014 Show Full Question >>

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