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

Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Iain Gray (East Lothian) (Lab)

For those of us who are members of the Smith commission, there is a certain discomfort in taking part in the debate. Mr Scott alluded to that, and colleagues from other parties have chosen not to take part in the debate, which is entirely reasonable. However, I will say a couple of words.

We had our first commission meeting last week. It was followed by some fun at our expense on behalf of those in the media, who were laughing about the fact that we all emerged and said that the meeting had been positive and constructive. Indeed, such message discipline across five parties was impressive, given that some of us sometimes struggle with that among our comrades and friends. [Laughter.]

That was simply a shared truth at the beginning of what is a sincere and serious process. In the meeting, we agreed that we should not hold our discussions in public across the floor of the chamber or in television studios night after night. In this closing speech, therefore, I will restrict myself to offering some reflections on contributions from members, and on the principles that were agreed by all in the first meeting, which are the starting point for Smith’s deliberations and have already been made public.

Those principles are important. Many SNP members have tried to misrepresent somewhat the promises that were made by various illustrious personages such as Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Ed Miliband. Christina McKelvie based her entire speech on a promise that exists only in her own febrile imagination and nowhere in the real world. Annabelle Ewing made the fatal mistake of reading out the promises that were made. They included the promise that there will be “extensive new powers” coming to the Parliament, as if there were any doubt that that is going to happen.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Iain Gray

The Smith commission is the guarantee that more powers and greater fiscal responsibility will come to this Parliament—[Interruption.]



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Iain Gray

One would have to be the greatest cynic in the world to believe that that was not the case.

The principles that were agreed by all of us on the Smith commission constitute the promise that there will be extensive new powers as promised, and that those powers will be substantial, significant and durable.

The Deputy First Minister, to her credit, accepted in her opening remarks that the whole context of the Smith commission is the decisive endorsement by the Scottish people of devolution and the rejection in the referendum of independence.

The arguments for independence were made, elaborated, examined and debated for three long years. The weight of the entire Scottish Government, its civil servants and its—or rather, the taxpayers’—resources were thrown behind those arguments, and they were rejected, not by 1 or 2 per cent but by more than 10 per cent. On a turnout that was universally acknowledged as remarkably high, some 25 per cent more Scots said no than said yes, and it is from that result that the Smith commission springs.

The Deputy First Minister’s creditable tone was rather undermined by the contributions from some of her colleagues, such as Christine Grahame, who it seems is now engaged in the old Brechtian tradition of electing a new people because they did not give her the result that she wanted in the vote.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Iain Gray

I will deal with that point a little later, because I want to talk about employability—and to make a similar point, in fact.

I realise that the SNP still believes that it was in the right about independence. I can even see why the Scottish Government’s starting position with regard to the Smith commission had to be the maximalist position: to ask for everything.

Murdo Fraser was right to say that to argue for devolution of all powers except defence and foreign affairs is to argue for de facto independence, which would open us up to exactly the risks that were so exhaustively debated in recent years and so clearly rejected by the Scottish people only weeks ago.

I will give just one example. The Scottish Government’s proposals would leave the Scottish economy disproportionately dependent on volatile and declining oil revenues. Even in the few weeks since the referendum, oil prices have fallen as low as $84 a barrel and less. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates of oil revenues, reviled by the Scottish Government for their pessimism, now look wildly overoptimistic, and the Scottish Government’s own figures now look laughably and dangerously wrong. All the calculations from independent bodies that an independent Scotland would face cuts and austerity of a greater order than the UK apply just as clearly to the independence-lite proposals that the Scottish Government has presented to Smith as they did to independence.

More important for where we are now, the Scottish Government’s proposals would also breach at least four of the Smith principles. For example, the proposals would not protect Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom; indeed they are designed to do quite the opposite. They would certainly cause detriment to Scotland and to the rest of the UK. In truth, if SNP colleagues feel differently, they will have to come up with a more substantial and rigorous argument than a Panelbase poll in the Sunday Herald on one Sunday.

The Deputy First Minister made some interesting comments on Barnett when she revealed that their proposals are the only ones that would leave Barnett redundant after a transitional period.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Iain Gray

No, I am sorry.

Our proposals on tax are the product of almost two years of consideration by the devolution commission. They hold fast to the principle that we believe in redistribution and fiscal balancing, we believe in a shared tax and benefits system, and we believe that that works better for the benefit of our people when it operates across the United Kingdom. That is why, for example, we have argued that income tax should be significantly more devolved to Parliament, but that it should remain a shared tax.

I understand that others on the Smith commission have struck that balance differently. We will listen to their arguments, but they have to convince us that their proposals are consistent with the agreed principles of Smith and in the best interests of Scotland. We remain open-minded to those arguments.

We should not, however, see Smith solely in terms of tax. We want to see a rounded package of proposals that enhances this Parliament’s ability to make things better for Scotland’s people. We called our own commission report “Powers for a purpose”—a title that, in the highest form of flattery, almost every SNP speaker has hijacked for themselves. We want enhanced powers to get more people into work and, as Alex Rowley said, to get more people into better jobs through the devolution and improvement of the work programme.

We also want to add to the already extensive powers and responsibilities on housing by devolving housing benefit and allowing a new and powerful approach to turning that resource to increasing housing supply rather than simply propping up a private rented sector that needs reform. Housing benefit is the second largest benefit after pensions, so that is no small proposal; it is a significant and bold change for a purpose and is exactly about delivering for those who most need it in the way that Ms Sturgeon referred to in her opening.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Iain Gray

The story of devolution has always been about change and growing responsibility. We can spend the next 12 weeks refreshing, restructuring and reinvigorating this Parliament as the electorate has charged us with doing, or we can spend the next 18 months refighting the referendum, rehashing the arguments that we have had for so long, and trying to rewrite the result. We on this side of the chamber will certainly do the former and seize the opportunity of Smith in good faith, with open minds, and with the best interests of Scotland at heart.

17:19  

Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Iain Gray

Does the cabinet secretary accept that one of the failures of the Calman process was the failure of his party in government to support, participate or take part in it in any way to develop new powers for this Parliament until, in a panicked reaction at the last minute, he changed sides?



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?

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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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11332.1 Gavin Brown: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11332 Fergus Ewing: Supported Business—That the Parliament recognises the economic and social va
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

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

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

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

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Iain Gray
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
Motion S4M-09291: Iain Gray, East Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/03/2014 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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