George Adam MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
George Adam (Paisley) (SNP)

I welcome this debate because I want to talk about some of the many positive things that have been happening throughout the country in education. I agree that we must do all we can to bridge the attainment gap to ensure that our young people can achieve their full potential.

As the Conservative motion states, it is true that

“the greatest challenge facing Scottish education is the existence of the significant pupil attainment gap between different skills and different communities”.

However, I have to ask where the Tories have been for the past couple of years. The Tory arguments are far too simplistic and the issue is larger than that. Poverty is a key part of the challenges that we have around attainment, but the current Tory welfare reforms are not helping families throughout Scotland with that. The motion indicates that school headteachers should be given full control of a devolved school budget. Such control might do a lot of things, but it will not do much to alleviate poverty in our communities.

In the real world, the Scottish Government has ensured that there is a record number of school leavers in work, training or education. The Scottish Government shares a strong commitment to driving improvement and ensuring equity in attainment to ensure that all young people achieve their full potential. In that regard, performance has improved against all 10 of the attainment measures that the Accounts Commission examined over the past decade. As the cabinet secretary said, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s PISA study shows that, unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland is narrowing the attainment gap.

Although the Scottish Government is making progress in reducing the attainment gap, it can go only so far in mitigating the damage caused by Westminster’s policies.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
George Adam

Yes, the Scottish Government has achieved so much with the limited powers of the devolved settlement, but we have to go further. As the cabinet secretary said, by 2020 more Scottish children will be living in poverty because of UK welfare reforms. That is the position before the next round of cuts, which are due in 2017-18.

It is unacceptable that children and families in Scotland are suffering as a result of the UK Government’s decisions. That is why the Scottish Government’s submission to the Smith commission for more powers set out the need for Scotland to have full responsibility over welfare powers. The Scottish Government’s child poverty strategy expresses the Government’s commitment to focus on the need to tackle the long-term drivers of poverty through early intervention and prevention, partnership and holistic services. Full powers over welfare and social policy will allow us to tackle child poverty and allow Scotland to become the fairer country that we all want it to be. Full responsibility over tax and national insurance will help us to create jobs and build the more prosperous Scotland that is necessary to support our ambitions for a fairer society.

During the referendum campaign, some of the best debates were about the kind of country that we all wanted Scotland to be, when we were out in our communities debating at various hustings. We disagreed on how we would get there, but we all wanted more or less the same thing. As I said during yesterday’s debate on the Smith commission, those are the transformational changes that the Scottish electorate voted for in September; I ask colleagues on the Opposition benches to be serious about the Smith commission and to take that into account during the commission’s deliberations. We must ensure that this Parliament receives the powers that it needs.

The Scottish Government has legislated for access to education, which should always be based on the ability to learn, not on the size of the wallet of an individual’s family. The Scottish Government removed tuition fees, saving more than 120,000 students studying in Scotland up to £27,000, compared with the cost of studying for a degree in England. Research from the Scottish Parliament information centre found that, since fees rose to £9,000 three years ago, the cost to students in the rest of the UK is £14 billion, while Scottish students studying in Scottish universities saved £1 billion.

Various universities are working towards ensuring that they give access to at least 20 per cent of people from the poorest backgrounds, and I know that the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley has exceeded that figure. I agree that the retention of those individuals is important.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
George Adam

That is why there is legislation to ensure that we can attain those targets and ensure that universities move towards getting the figures that we all want. The Office for National Statistics has found that Scotland currently has the best educated population in Europe and one that is among the best educated in the world. Surely that is an example of things that have been working for the Scottish Government within its limited powers.

In closing, Presiding Officer—



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
George Adam

The answer is far more complicated than the Tories claim. The Scottish Government has achieved much in educational attainment, but there is still much to do in dealing with poverty, particularly child poverty, and this Parliament needs the powers to make the type of transformational change that we all want. The challenge to us all is to ensure that the Smith commission delivers the type of powers that can make that change. That is the type of change that Scotland voted for in September. Gordon Brown claimed that the proposals that were put forward by him and some of his colleagues with the vow were federalism.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
George Adam

Within a year or two, we will be as close to a federal state as we can be in a country where one nation has 85 per cent of the population.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
George Adam

Promises and vows are not enough. This Parliament has to deliver.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
George Adam (Paisley) (SNP)

I, too, welcome the chance to speak in the debate. I begin by recognising and welcoming the fact that all the parties in the Parliament are together in their aim of securing more powers for the people of this country and strengthening the Parliament. That is our starting point. The important part of the debate is about how many and what powers the Parliament should have.

It will come as no surprise to members that I believe that independence will still be the best way to tackle inequality in Scotland. That is for another day, but the referendum campaign reinvigorated the public and gave them new interest in our politics and hope for the future, which we must take forward.

We must remember that we agreed on a great deal in the many debates that we had during the referendum campaign about the type of Scotland that we want and how to build it, and we must work towards addressing the many challenges that we face. Much was said about areas of multiple deprivation and the need for more powers to deal with such issues. We need to have the powers to tackle those challenges now, so that we can make a difference. In many of the debates during the referendum campaign, I found that I had a great deal in common with many Labour members; we differed only on how to get to the end goal.

Financial and democratic accountability must be enhanced, the ability to deal with inequality must be secured and access to Scotland’s resources must be a priority. Responsibility for welfare and benefits should be fully devolved to the Parliament. It is clear that the Scottish Government should not be using its own resources to combat regressive Westminster policies such as the bedroom tax.

I disagree with Alex Rowley’s ideas about job-creating powers. The economic levers to create jobs must be at hand. It is not sensible that employment in Scotland cannot be controlled by this Parliament because the powers are held elsewhere. The economic environment in Scotland is best examined and understood by those here in Scotland.

I welcome what other colleagues have said about the devolution of APD to Scotland. Amanda McMillan, who is the managing director of Glasgow Airport, has said:

“If Scotland is to attract and sustain the routes that will enable it to compete effectively in the global marketplace then it is imperative the issue of APD is addressed. It is a significant barrier to growth and it also makes it extremely challenging to maintain our existing routes.”

That is an example of a power that we must get. Businesses in that area, particularly in my constituency, want us to go down that route.

A recent report commissioned by Scotland’s airports said that APD was costing businesses 2 million passengers per annum and that, by 2016, APD would cost the Scottish economy up to £210 million per annum in lost tourism spend. That is an important part of our economy, which we must protect. Scotland’s airports said:

“We are therefore of the opinion that the Scottish Government, directed by the Scottish Parliament, is best-placed to manage this tax in a way that benefits Scotland.”

When we enter the debate, we must do what is best for the people of Scotland, because they believe that we need extra powers so that we can make such changes.

As for other tax powers, current proposals are for 85 per cent of tax revenues from Scotland to remain reserved. I can reveal that I have not come across one person who says, “That’s right, George, 15 per cent is enough. We don’t want any more. We just want to keep it at that.” Everyone else in Scotland is far too ambitious about making the type of change that we want to make to say that 15 per cent is enough. Why would they say that? It is ludicrous.

The problem is that the decisions have been made by individuals at Westminster who some people in this chamber would call “prehistoric” and who are determined to cling on to their jobs and their influence. This Parliament’s priorities should be the priorities of the people of Scotland. That is what has come across most in today’s debate.

The Scottish public have faith in this institution. A Scottish social attitudes survey has shown that only 22 per cent of Scots want welfare decisions to be handled by Westminster and only 32 per cent want Westminster to control taxation. They know that the Scottish Parliament is more likely to get a better deal for them when it comes to job creation, the national health service, welfare, taxation and social justice. It is about time that the Scottish branch of the London Labour Party realised that as well. A recent Panelbase poll showed that there is overwhelming support for the Scottish Parliament to control welfare benefits, which 75 per cent supported. In the poll, 65 per cent supported the Scottish Parliament controlling pensions; 68 per cent supported it controlling oil and gas revenues; and 54 per cent supported it controlling broadcasting.

People in Scotland will not be content with arbitrary bits of this and that being handed down from Westminster. Scotland has changed dramatically since September and our referendum debate, but the unionist parties have shown that they are still determined to cling on to the type of politics that has gone on before. Regardless of party colour, we cannot allow that to happen. Any politician who does not embrace the need for change and the fact that Scotland has changed for ever will find themselves facing the wrath of the Scottish people.

17:01  

Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Johann Lamont

The First Minister might not be aware of this, but Dr Peter Bennie, the chair of the British Medical Association Scotland, has asked for “an honest, public debate”. The First Minister’s response fails on every single count and reveals a degree of complacency that even I am astonished by.

Just weeks before Scotland made the decision to vote no, the chief executives of our health boards held crisis talks with Scottish Government officials about the future of the NHS. They warned that £0.5 billion of cuts were coming down the line. After two years of dismissing the daily warnings of staffing shortages, missed targets and failures in patient care, is the First Minister now willing to have the real debate about the future of our NHS that the health boards are asking for, or is he going to concentrate his time on the golf course while we wait for Nicola Sturgeon’s coronation before getting back to work?



Education and Culture Committee 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
George Adam (Paisley) (SNP)

Good morning, everyone.

Throughout the process, one of the big issues that was discussed was communication—or the perceived lack of it—with teachers. A number of submissions have been made. The SQA said that there was

“comprehensive communication of existing key documents and resources”,

but the Educational Institute of Scotland said that there was a failure to communicate key messages. Ken Cunningham, the general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, said:

“The preparation, consultation: there’s been more than I can ever remember. The amount of effort that’s gone into this knocks the others into the corner”.

There are quite a lot of different opinions on the process, which was discussed at length. For the future, as we look to what we will do, how can we communicate with teachers? How can we improve that further?



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
George Adam (Paisley) (SNP)

One of the many positive aspects of the campaign was the sheer level of engagement. Members of our communities engaged at all levels. Whether through social media, at public meetings or by watching the big television debates, people were extremely interested in the debate. Who would not be interested in the biggest and most important debate that Scotland has ever had?

It was a busy campaign, regardless of whether you were on the yes or no side. I am quite sure that energy drink sales went through the roof, with many campaigners drinking them all the time; indeed, I am trying to get many team Paisley members off of what is, by this stage, almost an addiction.

I am glad to say that the people of Paisley voted yes. Paisley is a yes town. Traditional working-class areas wanted independence for Scotland. People in Glenbar, Foxbar, Paisley’s east end and Ferguslie Park, where turnout is traditionally low, came out in massive numbers to vote for radical change. That is the type of engagement that we, as politicians, must embrace. We must ensure that those people continue to feel powerful and continue to want to engage. They felt that their vote would make a difference. My fellow buddies embraced the change that was being offered and wanted to go for a different system in the future. I hope that the Westminster elite remember that when they make their decisions.

Yesterday, we had many campaigning stories. Young people shook our hands on their way to school and we were congratulated at polling stations for the work that we were doing. A young man who had visited the Parliament shouted at me in the street. He said, “It’s Georgie boy—let’s talk to him.” He told me how he was voting. Matthew, who works for me, asked what other politician is treated that way in the streets of Paisley, but I take such treatment as a compliment. [Interruption.] Someone said that there is no one else called George in Paisley. I experienced an awkward moment when a young voter from Paisley grammar school came up to me and said that she wanted to take a selfie. While she was taking the picture, she said, “I adore you, George.” I found that quite awkward and creepy, but it just shows the extent to which 16 and 17-year-old voters got engaged with the process.

Some young women from Paisley—the Paisley girls—spoke to Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander about child poverty. They recorded the meeting. As well as asking Mr Miliband about child poverty, they told him that they intended to vote for independence and asked what he could offer them and their children for the future. Mr Miliband looked at them blankly and Douglas Alexander tried desperately to explain Labour’s position. One of the young women said, “You’re paying for Trident and I can’t get a house in Paisley.” That is the kind of issue that they discussed. Those young women saw independence as a way forward.

On a number of occasions, we saw the Margo mobile and Jim Sillars. It was great to campaign with him again. It reminded me of my younger days—in 1988, I campaigned with Iain Lawson, Gil Paterson and Jim Sillars in a snappy bus. It was good to go to areas such as Morar Drive in Foxbar, which was bedecked in yes posters. People in those areas, which have traditionally had low turnouts, were desperate to get radical change.

The sheer magnitude of the campaign of the yes activists, who worked with members of the Scottish Socialist Party and the Green Party, was fantastic. On the Saturday after the referendum, I was on my second pint in my local bar when a woman came up to me and said, “George, can you ask Alex Salmond why he has given up as First Minister when he was the person—along with Nicola Sturgeon—who convinced me to vote yes?” [Laughter.]

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11332.2 Jenny Marra: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
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NoDefeated

S4M-11332.1 Gavin Brown: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11332 Fergus Ewing: Supported Business—That the Parliament recognises the economic and social va
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YesCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
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YesCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
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YesCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by George Adam
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11092: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10596: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10556: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10543: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10385: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10260: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10152: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10006: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09980: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09815.1: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by George Adam
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03634: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03496: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03475: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21578: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03303: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03147: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03070: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-19926: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/02/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-19924: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/02/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-19923: George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/02/2014 Show Full Question >>

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