Gordon MacDonald MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Gordon MacDonald (Edinburgh Pentlands) (SNP)

Back in 1977, I picked up a copy of “SNP & you: aims & policy of the Scottish National Party”. Page 12 of that document stated, in the section on “Manpower and Industrial Relations”:

“The SNP is strongly committed to the principle of direct employee participation in decision-making in industry and believes that greater democratisation in the workplace is long overdue.”

It also promoted the establishment of

“An Economic Council representing unions, employers and Government”

and established the SNP’s commitment to the minimum wage by stating:

“The SNP supports a statutory minimum earnings level.”

The final paragraph highlighted that

“A major increase in facilities for training and re-training is essential, together with a more effectively planned and co-ordinated training service”.

It took 30 years and the election of an SNP Government before staff who were covered by the public sector pay policy were paid the living wage. It was the first Government in the UK to do that.

Modern apprenticeships are at record levels, and plans are in place to increase their number further. Despite those advances, we are trying to improve the living standards of the people of Scotland with one hand tied behind our back. The problem is that employment legislation, which covers the minimum wage, the living wage and zero-hours contracts, is still reserved to Westminster. We are unable to introduce legislation here at Holyrood on the very issues that impact on the living standards of many Scots.

However, the working together review group report “Progressive Workplace Policies in Scotland” makes a number of recommendations that are in tune with those earlier SNP policies. The Scottish Government established the Mather review in February to examine how better working environments can be created for employees across the country. The report, published in August, contains 30 recommendations, including a key recommendation to establish a fair work convention. The First Minister announced at the STUC conference in October that an independent fair work convention would be established to develop, promote and sustain a fair employment framework for Scotland. The fair work convention will encourage dialogue among unions, employers, public sector bodies and Government in order to promote good industrial relations. It will also be tasked with influencing UK policy on the minimum wage and the promotion of the living wage.

The report was welcomed by the STUC, which recognised that it had

“the potential for extending collective bargaining and for democratising workplaces and industry.”

Also commenting on the review group’s report was Professor Ewart Keep of the centre on skills, knowledge and organisational performance, at the University of Oxford, who made a number of points in an article published on the future of the UK and Scotland website. One was:

“when it comes to employment relations/industrial relations policy, the issues in Scotland are being conceived of and debated in ways that are strongly dissimilar from England.”

Another was:

“It is not simply that the Coalition Government would neither be willing to commission nor act upon anything akin to the Working Together Review and its findings, but that some within the Labour Party at Westminster would also probably find the Review’s report slightly uncomfortable and unsettling reading. Its underlying assumptions about what the accepted ‘best practice’ model of industrial relations might look like are simply too radical and too strongly located within a Northern European social democratic and social partnership tradition to be liable to play well with the Neo-Liberal media and employer interests that politicians have become used to deferring to.”

Finally, he wrote:

“Scotland’s approach, at least as laid out in the Review’s report, argues otherwise, suggesting that for reasons of both equity and efficiency what happens in the workplace really matters to government and to wider society. As the Review points out, many of the Scottish Government’s long-term economic and social goals are unlikely to be achieved if productivity and economic performance do not improve, and the fruits of such gains are not more widely and equitably shared across the population. Better workplace industrial relations have an important role to play in delivering these objectives, and the Review sets out one model for how this might be achieved.”

The Scottish Parliament information centre briefing “Workplace policies to boost productivity, growth and jobs” highlighted that, based on gross domestic product per hour worked,

“Scotland has higher productivity rates than most other regions of the UK except London and the South East of England.”

The OECD compared the 32 developed countries on their relative efficiency using GDP per hour worked. Scotland was ranked 17th out of the 32 countries, with the UK in 19th place. The top three places went to Norway, Luxembourg and Ireland. If we are to emulate the small northern European countries that occupy the top three slots, we must increase productivity. That can happen only if the people who are expected to deliver that increased productivity feel that they will benefit from the increased sales and profits.

The Scottish Government’s submission to the Smith commission calls for powers over employment and employability to be devolved to this Parliament. With powers over employment law and the minimum wage, we could ensure that the people of Scotland receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. With those devolved powers, we could finally complete the journey we started with the publication of “SNP & you” back in 1977.

15:19  

Education and Culture Committee 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Gordon MacDonald (Edinburgh Pentlands) (SNP)

We have touched on the subject of consultation and we have heard that some of the parent and teacher organisations are concerned about the lack of transparency in setting individual local authority education budgets. Cabinet secretary, will you outline the process that leads up to the publication of the draft budget and, particularly, how outside organisations can contribute to the discussions on education allocations?



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 05 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Gordon MacDonald

The Scottish Government was one of the first Governments—if not the first—to introduce this kind of statement. Is there any other best practice? Are other Governments now up to speed with what we are doing on carbon emissions? Can we learn lessons from anybody abroad?



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 05 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Gordon MacDonald

Does anybody else wish to comment?



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 05 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Gordon MacDonald

Last week, Professor Roaf said:

“The trouble with the larger Department of Energy and Climate Change accounting systems is that they use Westminster-facing assumptions. There may be 20 different values for a certain factor that is put in for England, whereas for Scotland there is just one value.”—[Official Report, Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, 29 October 2014; c 12.]

Do you use different values for different parts of the country?



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 05 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Gordon MacDonald (Edinburgh Pentlands) (SNP)

Yes. As much of my first question, which was about the Government’s carbon assessment, has already been covered, I will move on to my second.

Last week, Professor Roaf told the committee:

“It is quite easy to develop transparent accounting systems—we have the carbon accountants who can do it. They could develop a Scottish methodology for carbon accounting in communities or cities that would use Scottish rules and Scottish assumptions.”—[Official Report, Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, 29 October 2014; c 12.]

Do your organisations use carbon accounting to monitor trends? If so, what do you consider to be the best-practice carbon accounting methodologies, and what would be the benefits of adopting that best practice?



Education and Culture Committee 04 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Gordon MacDonald

It is straightforward, anyway. During the summer, the Scottish Government introduced the access to education fund specifically to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. What is the level of awareness in schools about that fund, and what is the uptake?



Education and Culture Committee 04 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Gordon MacDonald

I have a quick question. I asked this question of the earlier panel, who suggested that I ask the current witnesses.



Education and Culture Committee 04 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Gordon MacDonald

The report was about attainment in Scotland improving.



Education and Culture Committee 04 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Gordon MacDonald

We have talked about the pressures on school budgets and we are aware that public authorities are under a great deal of financial pressure. In Audit Scotland’s “School education” report, which was issued in June this year, key message 2 begins:

“Performance has improved against all ten of the attainment measures we examined over the last decade.”

How does that tie in with people’s view about the budgetary pressures that are affecting education? Audit Scotland has clearly said that attainment is actually improving.

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
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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 Gordon MacDonald
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Motion S4M-11591: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11471: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11270: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10546: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10755: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10578: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10420: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09920: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08711: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08447: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Gordon MacDonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03780: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03506: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03435: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03332: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03323: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03142: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03064: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02884: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/01/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02704: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02613: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/11/2013 Show Full Question >>