Iain Gray MSP

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Iain Gray MSP

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  • Member for: East Lothian
  • Region: South Scotland
  • Party: Scottish Labour

Iain is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

I will begin, as I always like to, by agreeing with the cabinet secretary. He has indeed made a little history today by setting the first Scottish national tax rates for 300 years. He knows that we on the Labour side of the chamber welcome that, and that we welcome the fact that land transaction tax is more closely related to property value than its stamp duty predecessor was.

Will the cabinet secretary agree, therefore, that his historic tax-raising budget and his new borrowing powers exercise simply demonstrate once and for all that we can have a powerful fiscally responsible devolved Parliament here in Scotland, but within the framework of the United Kingdom, exactly as the people of Scotland democratically, decisively and emphatically chose just three short weeks ago today? [Interruption.]



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Iain Gray

During the referendum campaign, it emerged that the cabinet secretary’s eight successive budgets have failed to protect the NHS. Health spending in Scotland has not kept up with increases, even in comparison with the Tory-run English NHS. Our NHS has approximately £700 million less than it should have had, had the cabinet secretary kept his promises. The use of the private sector in our health service has spiralled—[Interruption.]



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Iain Gray

Plans are being made for approximately £450 million-worth of cuts to accommodate the resulting financial pressure. Whatever the cabinet secretary claimed, and no matter how he tried to dress up or spin the figures, page 25 of his budget document shows a real-terms increase in NHS budgets of about 1 per cent, which is a quarter of the increase that is planned in England.

Can the cabinet secretary tell us why he is letting our NHS down yet again?



Meeting of the Parliament 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

The First Minister recently wrote to EDF, the operator of Hunterston, admitting that we need our nuclear fleet well into the next decade, as the two stations generate just under half of our electricity. It is therefore very welcome to have heard the public reassurance that the minister has given on the safety of Hunterston and its capacity to continue to generate electricity. However, would it not have been better if the Scottish Government had issued that reassurance yesterday, rather than have the Deputy First Minister call the issue “hugely concerning”, which simply contributed to the alarm that the minister said that we need to avoid. Is it not the problem that, as always, the Scottish Government is trying to face both ways at the same time when it comes to nuclear power?



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

Many members have spoken over the past two days of the privilege of participating in the referendum campaign. For me, there was the added dimension of fighting that campaign in my constituency of East Lothian. Not only is East Lothian the birthplace of the saltire—by legend, a gift from God to King Angus of the Picts—but it is also the birthplace of the very idea of a union between Scotland and England.

John Mair—philosopher, rationalist, born in Tantallon and educated in Haddington—was the very first to suggest, 500 years ago, that collaboration in a negotiated union rather than destructive competition, which in those days was often on the battlefield, was a better future for Scotland. It was an idea that waited 200 years for its time to come and, as the First Minister pointed out yesterday, 300 more for democratic endorsement, which it now has, and resoundingly so.

Of course, that endorsement was not for the union that was envisaged by Mair, but rather for the vision that was elaborated last century by an adopted son of East Lothian, John P Mackintosh, who argued the case for a powerful Scottish Parliament in a strong and modern United Kingdom. We stand now in the very embodiment of that, with Mackintosh’s words etched into the very stone of our Parliament on the threshold of the Donald Dewar room and devolution etched into our very body politic by not one but now two referenda. So I am proud that, last Thursday, East Lothian said no to independence and yes to a devolved Scotland as part of the United Kingdom, and that Scotland itself followed suit.

Many have praised the electorate and celebrated the fact that an unprecedented 85 per cent turned out to vote, and rightly so. However, it is not enough to praise the electorate or celebrate their numbers. We must respect their decision or we treat them with contempt. It is quite wrong to suggest, as the First Minister did at the weekend and Joan McAlpine did again today, that “no” voters were tricked by promises on new powers. I could as easily argue that yes voters were gulled by wildly exaggerated promises of oil revenues or dishonest threats to the NHS.

As for promises unravelling, I could ask what happened to the promise that the referendum would settle the independence question for a lifetime. How many hours did that promise last? The truth is that any politician who tries to tell voters that they were fooled is naught but the fool themselves.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Iain Gray

Briefly.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Iain Gray

The member cannot seriously be equating a fundamental constitutional question such as this with the normal run of elections.

Anyone who fought this campaign knows that, however people voted, they had thought long and hard. There was no monopoly of logic, scepticism, altruism, enthusiasm, pride, passion or above all patriotism on either side of the ballot paper, nor of hope or fear. Let me make a general point about hope, because many speakers have talked about it. Hope is a precious commodity, and politics should always nurture hope, but the peddling of false hope is the prerogative of the snake oil salesman down the centuries, and we should call it out wherever it is offered.

As Lewis Macdonald made clear in his contribution, democracy denies us the luxury of claiming that people were voting for or against this or that. It demands that we accept the verdict they deliver on the question that we put before them. So we on the no side must acknowledge that a substantial number of people voted yes, and the yes side must accept that the outcome was a decisive majority of more than 10 per cent. Almost 25 per cent more people said no to independence than said yes. Above all, we must all respect the decision. Someone wrote:

“And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

It has been an energetic and inspirational campaign and many members have provided stories of that, most memorably perhaps Georgie-boy Adam and perhaps most eloquently Alison Johnstone towards the end. We have also heard stories of its divisiveness, not least from Alison McInnes in her closing speech. Of another nation, Lincoln said:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

A historic decision has been taken, but real choices remain. We on this side can ignore the message of that substantial yes vote, but that would be foolish. A no vote was still a vote for a changed Scotland. We must deliver on the promises made, and we will. The Government could choose to lead Scotland to the endless revisitation of the people’s decision and condemn this nation to continuing uncertainty. That would be irresponsible.

Alternatively, we can unite behind the outcome, disagreeing where we must but, on the fundamental question of independence, healing the divisions because we can. That is surely our obligation. Let us not seek to make a distinction between how young and old voted, or between men and women, or city and rural Scotland. Let us not look for ambiguity in a clear result. Instead, let us look for the common ground: yes and no voters want Scotland to prosper and to be fairer.

On our economic prospects, last week Alex Salmond talked about the Scotland of Adam Smith, but Adam Smith said:

“The Union was a measure from which infinite Good has been derived to this country.”

That is the authentic discourse of the enlightenment echoing down to us, but we can find it right here in the white paper. Look at the economic platform. It says that we must have a stable currency union, the Bank of England as the lender of last resort, membership of the EU, a single energy market, a single financial services regulatory system, UK-wide research funding, access to Ministry of Defence contracts and, of course, free movement of people, goods and services across the UK. Those are the real job-creating powers that we have now, that are secure. Having rediscovered that, our job is to rededicate ourselves to using them to the maximum benefit of Scotland, its businesses and its people—to win even more investment in our renewables industry, and to help our universities to attract yet more funding for ever more imaginative, innovative and brilliant research.

Let us turn to the thirst for social justice that the campaign revealed on all sides. How profoundly we have had to revisit those principles of pooling and sharing resources, and how we distribute wealth and opportunity as well as power. The people have decided that we do that, but that we do it within the framework of a united kingdom and strengthened devolution. Let us not dedicate ourselves to questioning that but to making it work.

I have one example. Labour announced yesterday that it will tax properties that are worth £2 million and use the proceeds for the NHS. In truth, there might not be many such properties, relatively speaking, in Scotland. However, it is exactly the pooling and sharing of resources across the UK that means that we can tax the mansions in Belgravia and redistribute some of the proceeds to employ general practitioners and health visitors in Easterhouse, Muirhouse and Whitfield if we have the will to do that.

I turn to the common ground of the franchise. I agree with so many members that 16 and 17-year-olds’ exercise of their votes was exemplary and I add my voice to those from all sides who say that they should now have the vote in all elections.

If we choose to look forward from the referendum decision, not always to look back at it; if we choose to stand on the common ground that it has cleared for us and do so with open minds, then we can see that we are in the foothills of great progress.

It is no secret that I once aspired to be First Minister, nor that it was the people’s will that that was not my destiny—damn them. If Ms Sturgeon, as seems likely, succeeds to that privileged office, she will have earned it by her hard work, but it will be hers only by that expression of the people’s will three years ago, which I interpret rather more generously than Mr Carlaw did.

She will also inherit the solemn mandate of last Thursday: that the people of Scotland charge her with taking this nation forward in the enduring historic partnership of the United Kingdom—four nations, but one family. She can choose to accept that mandate and seek to unite us, or she can choose to dispute it, which will certainly divide us. She cannot do both.

We cannot speak truly of unity in the language of division. We cannot heal with words to wound. We cannot have John Swinney at 2.40 describing the referendum as a model of democracy, and Sandra White at 3 pm saying that it was not fair. We cannot declaim one Scotland on Friday and declare permanent revolution on Sunday, as the First Minister did.

We will hear what Ms Sturgeon has to say in the days ahead, but, as politicians, we should remember this every day: vox populi, vox dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Scotland’s people spoke last Thursday. They spoke in plain English, Lallans, Doric and Norn, and even in what my leader calls the tongue of God, Gaelic. They said that we are better, we are bigger and we are always stronger together. [Applause.]

16:43  

Meeting of the Parliament 20 August 2014 : Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab) The innovation centres are undoubtedly a welcome initiative, but they are very reminiscent of and identical in purpose to the intermediary technology institutes, which were launched back in 2002 with almost four times the budget, even then. When the current Government inherited the ITIs, it first slashed their budgets and then killed them off a couple of years later. Why does the cabinet secretary think that he can make the idea work a second time round with a much smaller investment, when the Government failed so badly before?



Meeting of the Parliament 19 August 2014 : Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab) I thank the cabinet secretary for his statement and for early sight of it.

The descent into administration of Ferguson, which is our last commercial shipyard, is a blow to an iconic industry, to which we must respond with every resource at our disposal. The hardest blow, of course, is to the workforce and their families. I very much associate Labour members with the cabinet secretary’s assurances that our thoughts are with them, first and foremost.

Although the yard is more than a century old, the jobs are not old-fashioned. The work is highly skilled, and the products of the yard are technically advanced, innovative and cutting edge. As we heard, the last two vessels that Ferguson produced were groundbreaking and award-winning hybrid ferries. We can all agree that those jobs should be jobs of the future, not of the past; we must ensure that that is so.

The cabinet secretary was very clear: we have a yard, a skilled and proven workforce, a customer in CMAL, 12 vessels to be built, and £250 million to be invested. We surely must find a way to ensure that that investment supports jobs here, rather than somewhere else.

What assurances can the cabinet secretary give potential new owners that orders for Ferguson will be forthcoming quickly?



Meeting of the Parliament 19 August 2014 : Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab) I welcome and support the amendments. They will bring the bill into line with corresponding provisions in the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, which seems right and proper, and with the effect that, in dealing with cases, the upper tribunal will have the same powers in relation to the petition as the Court of Session would have had.

In particular, we support amendment 89, which will bring the criteria for appointment of the president of the tax tribunals into line with the criteria for appointment of legal members of the upper tribunal. In so doing, it will rightly ensure that a person will be eligible for appointment only if that person has the qualifications, experience and training in tax law and practice that Scottish ministers consider to be appropriate.

The amendments in group 2 are welcome, and we support them.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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NoCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
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Not VotedDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Iain Gray
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-10769.1: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10507: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10261: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10256: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10255: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10101: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09927.1: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09291: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09239.2: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 05/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09238: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Iain Gray
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03376: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21460: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 29/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21294: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21295: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21296: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21293: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21289: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21288: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21290: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21292: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>

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