Fiona Hyslop MSP

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Fiona Hyslop MSP

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  • Member for: Linlithgow
  • Region: Lothian
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Fiona is a member of the following Committees:

Fiona is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Fiona Hyslop

European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs (Fiona Hyslop)

I have a very short statement, convener. Thank you for inviting me to address you on the 2015-16 draft budget.

This year has seen a great deal of international interest in Scotland, with major events such as the Commonwealth games, the Ryder cup and, just last weekend, the MTV awards, which of course were all part of the homecoming 2014 programme. We have had the independence referendum, the positive manner in which it was conducted and the debate’s unprecedented level of public participation. All those things have enabled visitors and audiences around the world to see the best of Scotland.

It is against that backdrop of increased international opportunities that I have approached the 2015-16 budget allocations. In 2015-16 the Europe and external affairs budget is expected to increase to £17.9 million. The increase is due largely to the technical transfer to programme spending of just over £1 million running costs for the Brussels office, which will allow increased scrutiny by the committee of the office’s work and will bring the way that we fund the office into line with funding of other overseas offices in Beijing and Washington.

Last year when I appeared before you to discuss the budget we agreed on the importance of increasing Scotland’s profile and activity in Europe. I am therefore pleased that we have been able to embed the increases that we achieved in that area in the 2014-15 budget into the 2015-16 European relations budget. It means that we will be able to continue to expand our policy of seconding staff into European institutions, which we regard as a key way to build Scotland’s influence in Europe.

The major events line will increase by £0.85 million. The funding is intended to support VisitScotland’s work in connection with the 2015 Scottish open, which is being played at Gullane, and is part of the Scottish Government’s £1.2 million sponsorship of that event.

The lion’s share of the external affairs budget is the £9 million that will continue to be directed to help the world’s poorest countries in 2015-16.

The Scottish ministers continue our commitment to ensure that Scotland plays its part as a good global citizen. One way that we do that is through our work on international development. Our commitment is clearly evidenced by our securing a doubling of the baseline budget from £4.5 million to £9 million between 2007-08 and 2011-12. Despite the difficult financial context, of which all members will be aware, we are committed to keeping international development funding at that level for the duration of the spending review period, and we will do so again in 2015-16.

As part of our unique model, we provide funding for Scottish non-governmental organisations to work in partnership with organisations in the developing world on our priority areas and particularly on issues in which Scotland has specific skills and expertise, such as renewable energy. We will work across our priority countries to focus on the key objective of poverty alleviation and the achievement of the millennium development goals, and we must adhere to the principles of the Paris declaration on aid effectiveness.

In addition to our programmed international development work, the Scottish Government aims to respond where it can to international humanitarian emergencies and urgent appeals. Some of the money for that comes from my portfolio, but we also support contributions to such emergencies from other parts of the Scottish budget. Most recently, that has helped to ensure Scottish Government contributions to the international fight against Ebola, and we continue to monitor the situation in west Africa closely.

I am pleased that, this year, I have been able to increase the international strategy and reputation line slightly. That budget supports international communications and marketing for all of the Scottish Government’s priority countries, as well as the delivery of the Government’s Pakistan and India plans, which is an area that the committee has been interested in. The budget is being used to deepen relationships with key countries with which we engage diplomatically and economically.

Finally, I am pleased to have been able to maintain the level of funding for our overseas offices in China and North America. Our presence in those countries is a firm indication of the importance that we place on our relationships with them and the economic benefits that they bring to Scotland.

As members are aware, we want to ensure that Scotland is known as a good global citizen that has much to contribute to the world. With the budget, we continue our contribution to promoting Scotland’s interests and identity at home and abroad and to delivering the Scottish Government’s purpose and Scottish economic ambitions.



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

I remind the committee that the international development fund focuses on a number of areas and includes projects that deal with energy, particularly in Malawi. MREAP—the Malawi renewable energy acceleration programme—is a good example of that. I understand that Humza Yousaf, the Minister for External Affairs and International Development, saw that in practice when he visited Malawi. Some innovative work is happening on different models, for example, with the University of Strathclyde.

The climate justice fund is separate from that. As I have said to the committee before, when we established that fund, I was keen to ensure that it would not come from top slicing the international development fund but would be in addition to that fund. Of course, Scotland was one of the first countries in the world, if not the first, to have a climate justice fund. The fund is managed as part of Paul Wheelhouse’s portfolio, but we work cross-Government on the issue. Water is another area in which Scotland has an interest and expertise, as well as energy.

The climate justice fund is focusing on four countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. A recent announcement was made to extend the fund by another £3 million.

It is interesting to consider what that means we can contribute. I talked about us contributing as a good global citizen. Humza Yousaf is just back from Geneva, where he was discussing some aspects of that, and there is a good deal of interest in what Scotland can contribute and in the models that we are using.

On a visit to Malawi a few years ago, I saw some of the energy projects that are being developed, and that work is about localised, sustainable areas. One of the things that we did on my most recent visit to Malawi at the beginning of the year was to bring together some of the different projects across the country so that each could see what the others were doing. We are sharing expertise from Scotland, but we also want to ensure that there is sustainability, and we think that the impact of MREAP project has reached about 20,000 people in Malawi.

What was the second part of your question?



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

Paul Wheelhouse is our lead on that. He has recently been in Argentina and we hope that he will take part in discussions on that agreement. It is one of the areas where our relationship with the United Kingdom Government is such that we are represented and play a key role at global climate conferences. We are seen as a supportive and productive partner in that effort because we are recognised as having expertise.

The fact that we have world-leading climate change legislation and that our targets—and indeed our delivery compared with other countries—are very strong means that, in the light of this week’s announcements from China and the United States, we recognise that the agenda is continuing and pressing.

Where we have expertise and political leadership in our country and where we can work with others, including the UK Government, on those conferences, we will continue to do so. That is not in my portfolio or in the budget that I am responsible for, but I know that the committee is interested in how we work across the different portfolios to deliver not only on our own objectives but on international objectives as well.



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

Yes.



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

If you compare the international promotion budgets, as I have explained to the committee before, you will find that some of the changes are because of shifts between departments and responsibilities. Today we are looking at the 2015-16 budget and I have managed to maintain that line, which is a significant achievement, bearing in mind the pressures on the Scottish Government’s budget over the piece.

I am quite comfortable about what we have managed to do. We have had our first ever ministerial visit to Pakistan this year, which gave us an opportunity to promote Scotland as part of the Commonwealth games programme. A number of our activities are not just about what we do in Pakistan but also what we do to help promote the Pakistan plan here, particularly for business interests. We had a business conference in Glasgow in June 2014, hosted by the Scottish Government, UK Trade & Investment and the Pakistan consulate, to highlight opportunities for Scottish business.

We also do work in India, and a business networking reception was held in Delhi. You know about my keen interest in the promotion of Scotland not just for business but for education, and when I was in India there was a great deal of interest in that.

The tourism connections are strong as well, and VisitScotland works with tour operators in India to find out how we can promote Scotland and Scotland’s interests. I do not think that there has been pressure on what we are able to do because of reprofiling. When our budget is compared with other portfolios, it is much smaller, but the margins we are talking about are very small indeed.

09:30  

The committee may be interested in the fact that we are co-ordinating a lot of our messaging. Much of it is done using traditional media, but social media is becoming more important. Because we had so many international events taking place, due to the interest that people across the globe have in Scotland, we produced a suite of materials on the different segments that we had, including cultural life, skills and training, business, and food and drink—all those areas where we had core messages. We will make sure that the committee gets copies of it. Whether people are directly employed by the Scottish Government or are ambassadors for their own field in business or education, they can use the world-stage exposure that we are getting this year as an opportunity for promotion. That is something that we will continue to help with.

Bearing in mind that my international strategy, reputation and promotion budget is minuscule compared to the budgets that we had for the Commonwealth games, the Ryder cup and all the other big events that we had this year—and bearing in mind that, even on Sunday night, 750 million people were watching an event from Glasgow—I would say that we are managing to maximise our impact and reach.

One of my roles, which this committee has shown an interest in before, is to leverage in funding from across the Scottish Government in alignment with what we do—it is like a hub and spokes. However, I do not feel that there is any pressure in the way you describe. Yes, I would like more money in that area, but, frankly, the whole Government has to be very careful about its funding, which has been tight.



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

If you are looking for figures, I can give you some now.

For the level 4 spend on the international strategy and reputation line—which is the line you are interested in—the allocation for 2015-16 is £1,666,000, compared with last year at £1,396,000. The bulk of that spend is on the international communications and marketing budget, which is the other line you are interested in; for 2014-15 the spend there was £1.1 million. That figure is sourced from the figures that I have given you.

I am comfortable that we are managing to satisfy the requirements for promotion. We are also going into a phase where we are looking at different country plans and at the international framework, as I have explained previously. In 2014-15 that line was slightly down because of a transfer to help promote European Union engagement last year, which was understandable and which I explained previously to the committee.



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

I was just explaining that what we have managed to do is to return the 2015-16 figure on international strategy and reputation to the kind of level that it was in 2014-15. That year had been slightly down, because we funded more in Europe to try to build up our capacity and activity there. I have also talked about the Nordic-Baltic strategy and some of the activity there. What we have managed to do is to realign the funding. We must remember that my budget is going up slightly, to £17 million, so there is a bit of movement there.



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

It will be over the piece, because obviously a lot of funding rounds are taking place as part of the multi-annual financial framework and across funding streams that are currently available. We are very keen to ensure that we are as competitive as possible. A lot of our work, even in the Nordic-Baltic strategy and in our work with Ireland and other countries, is about how we can maximise our access to funds that require cross-country collaboration in different areas.

On the other side of my portfolio, some interesting work is taking place in culture, archaeology and heritage. One reason why we have a particular interest in some of the Baltic states is that they are keen to work with us on creative industries, so there are opportunities if we can identify projects and so on. That is even before we get to film and other areas.

I was quite up front in saying that the increase in the European budget was actually about taking funding out of the regular direct running costs of the Brussels office and putting it into programme budget, which gives it greater visibility to committees, in particular, and puts the office on the same funding model as the Beijing and Washington offices. I am not pretending that there is suddenly a massive increase in what the Brussels office can do, as some of the increase is a technical transfer. However, some of it is not. There is a modest increase of £115,000 in the European relations area.

I explained to the committee last year that we were looking to allocate funding for secondments to EU institutions. By and large, the United Kingdom as a whole has not been as strong as it has been in previous years in ensuring that we have experience within different Administrations on either a permanent or a temporary basis. David Lidington and William Hague have spoken about that at the joint ministerial committees. The issue is how we increase the number of such opportunities and encourage more people to want to be seconded into other areas, and how we—whether it is the Scottish Government or the UK Government—-try to get more people working within the institutions.

One thing that we could do, for example, is to have secondments into the presidencies. We have had a reasonable amount of activity in that area, particularly in relation to areas in which we have expertise, such as the environment and the marine sector. Those secondments are very welcome and they also give our staff a better insight into what is going on. They are about networking and they contribute to our influence over the longer term.

I am not pretending that there is a massive increase in budget, but it is strategic. For example, we now have a secondment with Latvia—looking forward to the next presidency. The secondments can be to different institutions. Some secondments are to the Commission, but in recent years there have been a number of secondments to work with the EU Council presidencies.



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

Again, that is about cross-Government and probably cross-Parliament scrutiny. Some of the EU funding streams that we would maximise are in the capital infrastructure portfolio. We will try to maximise value for money within each portfolio, and the committee could take an interest in those matters. We want to benchmark where we are against different countries and identify our successes. A lot of that is not part of my responsibilities and would be for another minister—currently Nicola Sturgeon.



European and External Relations Committee 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Fiona Hyslop

The Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment, Angela Constance, has undertaken a number of visits to different countries, often with delegations representing the Scottish Trades Union Congress, business interests or education interests, to see what they are doing on employment. We have certainly been looking at that.

As regards recruitment, we have to be a welcoming country in the first place if we want to encourage people to come and work with us. That is an on-going issue, which the committee has taken an interest in. We need wage levels that attract people, and the quality of life has to attract people into particular areas and industries.

In the spring, when I was in Kraków, which is a very young city in terms of its age profile, I was struck by the many universities in the area and by the capacity, capability and volume of particular sectors—and we will need that in software engineering. There have been huge increases in the number of young people who are coming to study, live and stay there—and who are then recruited by a number of companies, many of which operate in the areas that you are discussing. Those companies are locating there precisely because there is a large pool of skilled labour in the areas where they have an interest.

There are places that we can learn from in various different areas. Scotland house in Brussels hosts events in a number of areas. We can bring together commissioners—we have had commissioners addressing events in Scotland house on our areas of skill and expertise—and that also provides a chance to learn from others in the areas concerned.

One of the big challenges lies with the post-study visa. As regards where we are now—referring to the Smith commission and the committee’s interest in post-study work visas—we can see from the submissions that have been published at a number of places that universities are keen to ensure that we have the brightest and the best; that, if they come here, they stay here; and that they have an opportunity to contribute and pay taxes to our country. That will continue to be a live issue, but it is necessary to be attractive in the first place, and we have to want people with the relevant areas of skill to come here in order to get the working-age population that we will need.

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
>> Show more
YesCarried

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

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
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
>> Show more
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 Fiona Hyslop
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11378: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10784: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10644: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10371: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10033: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09748: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08461: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08254: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07622: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06388: Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/04/2013 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S2W-32214: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-31614: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-31458: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-31322: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/01/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-31323: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/01/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2O-11714: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/01/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-30689: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/12/2006 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-30688: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/12/2006 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-30171: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2006 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-30170: Fiona Hyslop, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2006 Show Full Question >>

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