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 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

I welcome the confirmation that, on this occasion at least, the cabinet secretary has allocated all health consequentials to the NHS. In his statement, he also mentioned the role of the NHS in the delivery of integrated health and social care. What steps will he take to make sure that that additional funding ensures that the NHS plays a greater role in the delivery of health and social care in order to turn the tide of the growing bedblocking crisis?



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Iain Gray

I simply wish to make the point that paragraph 18, to which Mr Swinney referred, is exactly the point at which Smith absolutely recognises Mr Swinney’s democratic right to continue to argue for independence. We simply ask: can he not find one positive, good thing to say about the agreement that he was part of?



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Iain Gray

Any politician who thinks that those are limited powers lacks imagination. Any politician who looks at this package of powers and sees only what it does not give them reveals themselves to be more concerned with gratuitous grievance than with effective government on behalf of the people. Any Government that thinks that the most important thing about the new powers is not what we can do with them but who gets to write the draft legislation that will give them to us has the wrong priorities.

Mr Swinney says that he wants to use the powers, but that first he has to talk about the process of implementation. Is that not the whole problem with this Government? There is always something that it must talk about first. For five years it had to talk about a referendum, for two years it had to talk about independence and now it has to talk about the implementation of Smith. Scotland has had two years of a Government claiming that it can do nothing without independence; it cannot take another year of a Government claiming that it can do nothing until Smith is implemented. It is time to get on with the job now.

16:41  

Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Iain Gray

At the very least, we can look at the Scotland Act 1998 and remove the section that says that the Westminster Parliament remains sovereign over the Scottish Parliament. That might be symbolic, but it will also be significant.

The Scottish Parliament will not just be made permanent; we will also be made responsible for ourselves, and the balance between legislative competence and fiscal competence will be redressed. The Parliament will be rebalanced, transformed and empowered. The fact is that the Smith agreement is the vow delivered on time and in spades.

I am glad to see that the Government’s amendment finds something positive to say about the Smith agreement because, from one miserable contribution to the next, most SNP members have had nothing good to say about it. Indeed, the SNP’s reaction to Smith has been dismal. The Deputy First Minister participated in it, agreed it and then denounced it from the platform at the launch. Even before that, the First Minister herself was busy in her office through the night, trashing Smith by tweet. At First Minister’s question time that day, she warmly welcomed it and then rubbished it.

Meanwhile, the former First Minister is touting himself around a Government that has not yet been elected in a Parliament that he is not yet a member of, offering demand and supply agreements in return for enhancements to the Smith agreement. We could be forgiven for asking what the SNP position is on Smith and who speaks for the SNP on the Smith agreement. No wonder some nationalist councillors were so confused that they ended up burning a document that had their own Deputy First Minister’s name on it and which agreed to bring more powers to Scotland. It is just as well that they did not decide to burn the Smith representatives in effigy, because they would have been a bit surprised when they got to Linda Fabiani and John Swinney. Indeed, Linda Fabiani seems today to be a little unsure that she was actually there, and Christine Grahame has told her in no uncertain terms that she should not have been.

The powers in the Smith agreement are substantial. If we choose, we can reintroduce the 50p tax rate for top earners and a 10p rate to help lower earners. We can redesign the work programme to get people into work more effectively and redeploy hundreds of millions of pounds of disability benefits to reinject dignity into the system. I say to Mr Robertson that that includes the work choice programme to help people who have disabilities into employment.

We can attack child poverty by supplementing child benefit for families who are under stress. We can reform the carer’s allowance and give carers the rights that they deserve. We can finally match attendance allowance and DLA to our own Scottish system for the care of the elderly.

In fact, Smith will enable us to create new benefits of our own—something that is currently disallowed by the Scotland Act 1998. Thus we will be able to construct, if we wish, a whole new Scottish welfare benefits system of our own design, built on the guarantee of UK-wide provision of pensions, social security and child benefit.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

We have heard a lot about the vow today, largely from those who did not make it, did not support it and did not believe that it would be delivered, but they now seem to be very concerned about what it was. They have told us that it was devo max, fiscal autonomy, full fiscal autonomy, full fiscal federal autonomy with added devo mega max and—according to John Mason—19th century home rule. I am with Mr Scott on this: I do not know what any of those things mean, which is why none of them was promised.

The vow was simple. The Scottish Parliament would be permanent and entrenched, the Barnett formula would be protected and there would be extensive new powers over tax and welfare. That could be a summary of the Smith agreement. Twenty billion pounds in taxes and £2.5 billion for the welfare system is coming to a Parliament near us and, very soon, 60 per cent of our spending will be funded by taxes for which we have some responsibility.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

Will the member give way?



Public Petitions Committee 09 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in support of the CRA’s petition. It is absolutely clear that the community that I represent supports the petition, too. The CRA has organised campaigns that have included public meetings attracting 700 and 800 local people, and it has encouraged my constituents to write to me. Indeed, I have had more letters on the subject—well over 1,000—than on any other issue in my time as an MSP. There is no doubt in my mind that the campaign is supported by local residents.

The site that we are discussing is nationally strategic as well as being the gateway to Edinburgh and central Scotland. However, we must understand that it is a strategic site locally, too. It lies at the very heart of three communities—Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton—and their interests cannot be ignored.

On the face of it, we are discussing an industrial site. However, colleagues should understand that Scottish Power uses only part of the site for the power station. As Shona Brash mentioned, the perimeter includes green space such as the greenhills. It provides access to the local shoreline, it is contiguous with and covers some of the historic site of the battle of Prestonpans and it is traversed by the John Muir way, which was recently opened by the former First Minister.

The existing power station at Cockenzie has served Scotland, producing electricity for more than 40 years, and Scottish Power has permission to replace it with a gas-fired station. That idea was broadly accepted by the community, although not by everyone, on the basis that the facility would be smaller. However, there is no sign of that proposal progressing. Scottish Power appears to consider the site no more than a brownfield site that it wants to dispose of in order to realise its asset. In doing so, it would betray the community that has supported it for more than 40 years. The local community built, worked and lived next door to that power station, and it deserves consideration of its interest as Scottish Power decides how to move on.

The Scottish Government charged Scottish Enterprise with finding sites to create supply chains for offshore wind projects. That led to Scottish Enterprise making the current proposal—a proposal, as Shona Brash said, not just for an energy park but for the largest energy park facility that one could possibly imagine on the site. Local residents had no indication that that proposal would be made. They felt and continue to feel completely excluded from the development of that proposal.

The proposal would massively increase the site’s industrial footprint. It would involve 24/7 floodlit working, which would compromise the Prestonpans battle site, break the recently opened and highly popular John Muir way and compromise a potential important development at Blindwells, which is not far from the Scottish Power site. Above all, it would divide and cut off the three communities—that is what my constituents find most offensive.

11:30  

As a proposal, it is unacceptable. It would also rule out other proposals and possibilities. I believe that my county needs jobs, but not at any price, and there are other ideas about how the site could be developed. Many see the tourism potential. The CRA itself has developed a plan, which it has shared with the committee today. Not everyone has the same ideas but, in truth, nobody supports the proposal locally.

The proposal has united the community in its determination to have a say—that is the most important thing. That is why the CRA is right to appeal to the Parliament to ask the Scottish Government that the process stop now and start again.

It is important that the site comes into public ownership because there is a danger that Scottish Power will sell it to the highest bidder, and who knows what plans a private developer might have for the site? However, if the site comes into private sector ownership, we must start again and work with the community, not against the community, to plan the use of the site with local people rather than in spite of them.



Meeting of the Parliament 04 December 2014 : Thursday, December 04, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

Those OBR forecasts that the First Minister was quoting also saw oil and revenue forecasts to 2019 cut by a further £4.5 billion. Does she agree that the Smith commission was wise not to devolve volatile oil and gas taxes and that the Scottish people were wiser still to reject an independence prospectus based on her predecessor’s predictions of a second oil boom now laid bare as fantasy?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

I echo the Deputy First Minister’s comments about the good-natured approach to the commission taken by all members, including the Deputy First Minister. It is a pity, then, that his statement had such a grudging nature, with 500 words on powers in the Smith agreement and 2,000 on process, pitfalls, powers not there and demands for transitional down payments. What a depressing lack of imagination!

With the Smith agreement we will, if we choose, reintroduce a 50p tax rate for top earners and a 10p rate to help low earners. The Deputy First Minister could even extend the personal allowance the way that he wants through a zero rate. We can redesign the whole work programme to get people into work more effectively, and we can redeploy hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of disability benefits to re-inject dignity and respect into the system. We can attack child poverty by supplementing child benefit for families under stress. We can reform carers allowance to give carers the rights that they want, and we can finally match attendance allowance and DLA to our own system of care of the elderly. We can construct a whole new Scottish welfare system of new benefits of our own design.

We can give coastal communities the benefits from their own shore and seabed, use extended borrowing powers to build the tens of thousands of houses that we need and decide for ourselves about fracking. We can, at our own hand, gender balance the boards of public bodies, give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote and bring ScotRail back into the public sector. We can have a Parliament entrenched, with more extensive powers devolved than in federal Germany or federal Australia.

Presiding Officer, this is the vow delivered. Scotland knows it. The Deputy First Minister was part of it. Why will he not just admit it?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : Thursday, November 27, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

I, too, congratulate Jim Hume on obtaining the debate. He and I have worked together on the campaign over the years. However, for me, today is not the best day for him to have got the debate. With your forbearance, Presiding Officer, I will have to leave a little early for a Smith commission-related engagement, for which I apologise to colleagues and in particular the minister. I very much wanted to take part in the debate, because the campaign is important in East Lothian and the Borders.

The inclusion of a proper local service between Edinburgh and Berwick that will stop at new or restored stations at Reston and East Linton is a victory for common sense and for persistence. It is a victory for common sense because, in my constituency, the community of Dunbar has a working railway station but no proper local service, so my constituents there depend on east coast main line train services, which sometimes stop at Dunbar and sometimes do not, depending on the timetable. That is a ridiculous situation.

Even more ridiculous is the situation of my constituents in East Linton, where the station was closed many years ago. They see trains run through their community daily, but none of them stops and my constituents have no opportunity to use those services. It is simple common sense that those two communities should have a proper local rail service, and the same is true of Reston.

The decision is also a victory for persistence—particularly the persistence of the local rail campaign RAGES, to which Mr Hume and Mr Brodie paid tribute.

Mr Hume mentioned some of the stalwarts of RAGES. They are some of the politest and most courteous people one could ever do business with, but their group’s acronym is not RAGES for no reason. For years they have raged against the argument that it is not possible to reinstate services to their communities, they have raged against the argument that there are not enough train movements to enable services to be reinstated and they have raged against the argument that significantly underestimated potential passenger numbers on reinstated services. They have won every one of those arguments.

There has been persistence on the part of East Lothian Council and Scottish Borders Council, which provided resources for the original Scottish transport appraisal guidance assessment and have committed significant resources to the reopening of stations, as members said. There has also been persistence on the part of local politicians, such as Councillor Norman Hampshire in Dunbar.

I am happy to acknowledge the role that the minister’s predecessor, Keith Brown, played. He responded positively to representations that were made to him and he deserves credit for the inclusion of the services in the franchise.

The victory has been gradual. Some ScotRail services have been provided to Dunbar and there is the prospect of a two-hourly service, but we still have to build two stations to make it happen. My message to the new minister is this: make no mistake, RAGES will stay on the case and will not rest—and nor will we—until the victory is complete and literally on track.

12:46  
Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
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NoCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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NoCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
AbstainDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
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AbstainCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11763 Mary Fee: Private Sector Rent Reform—That the Parliament notes that, over the last 10 year
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11766.3 Shona Robison: The State of the NHS—As an amendment to motion S4M-11766 in the name of N
>> Show more
NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Iain Gray
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11626: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11368: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11301.1: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
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 >>
Search for other Questions asked by Iain Gray
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03832: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
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-21290: 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-21293: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Question >>

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