Jamie McGrigor MSP

Welcome to Jamie McGrigor MSP's biography pages

Jamie McGrigor MSP

Here you can find out about your MSPs' political activities and how to get in touch with them.

  • Member for: Highlands and Islands
  • Party: Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Jamie is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Jamie McGrigor

European and External Relations Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

My first question is to do with the priorities outlined by Jean-Claude Juncker, who stated:

“If Europe invests more, Europe will be more prosperous”.

He also said:

“The Investment Plan we are putting forward today ... is an ambitious and new way of boosting investment without creating new debt.”

How can you invest more without increasing debt?

My second question is: how will the overarching policy, particularly on broadband, impact on Scotland? I represent the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and I have to tell you that, in various parts of the region, broadband is practically non-existent. I believe that Slovenia, for example, has far better connectivity. How can we in the Highlands and Islands gain something from the overarching policy on broadband?



European and External Relations Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Jamie McGrigor

My next question is on the obvious immediate difficulties facing the EU generally. One of them must be the upcoming Greek elections and the possible result, and another must be the high dependence on Russian energy and gas. With the present relationships, given the Russian expansion into the Ukraine and the difficulties there, we are facing a situation whereby the tap could be turned off. Does the Commission have a kind of COBRA committee that discusses those relevant and topical issues? When does it discuss them? Are the discussions made public? What is plan B on both the issues that I have raised?

10:45  

European and External Relations Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Jamie McGrigor

I do not suppose that Greece is that worried about heating. Thank you very much.



European and External Relations Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Jamie McGrigor

Under the heading “Broadband” on page 6, the bulletin notes that

“the UK is head of the EU average across all technology combinations”

but that

“in rural areas the situation is significantly different to the national picture”.

I think that that is the point here. It is all very well painting a rosy picture, but the actual facts of the matter are different. What is happening is that little deserts are being created in the UK, particularly in Scotland’s rural areas, which then find themselves at a distinct disadvantage, particularly in tourism terms. When telephones were rolled out, every house had one. Why cannot every house have a fibre optic connection?



European and External Relations Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Jamie McGrigor

What worries me about the present situation is that we run the risk of creating an unfair society.



European and External Relations Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Jamie McGrigor

All right. I was going to ask if the issue could be included in the questions to Ms Minor.



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

I thank colleagues for supporting me on the frightening challenge facing Argyll and Bute. There is so much to say in only seven minutes. It is necessary to grasp the thistle—to quote the title of Mr Russell’s literary tome—and to do something now to change the alarming picture.

I thank Dick Walsh in Argyll and Bute Council, and others, for their briefings. Argyll’s people matter and so do their children—that is what worries me. I have had six children in Argyll and Bute. It is one thing to have them, but it is quite another to keep them there. Argyll was and is a fantastic place to live, but the lack of modernisation of its infrastructure is causing significant problems for those who want to make their living there.

Last May’s National Records of Scotland’s projections are that the population of Argyll and Bute will fall by 13.5 per cent over the next 25 years, against a 9 per cent rise in the overall Scottish population. An even greater concern is that the number of people of working age is projected to fall by 22 per cent by 2037. That comes on top of a 3.5 per cent decline between 2001 and 2011, with some islands, such as Bute, seeing a population decline of more than 10 per cent in that time.

When we look at the facades of the buildings in Rothesay, Dunoon or Helensburgh, we see the traces of an era of prosperity and enterprise. Those facades are fading fast, though, despite the great efforts of very gifted people such as John McAslan, who has converted the Dunoon burgh hall back to its former glory.

I have seen the population decline in Loch Aweside, where I live, and a sharp fall in the number of people employed in the primary industries of forestry and farming. Until the 1980s, forestry villages such as Eredine and Dalavich were mainly inhabited by forestry employees. All those jobs are now gone, so land that was nationalised and taken over by Government to provide local employment no longer fulfils that purpose.

On the farming front, I remember the hard physical work that occupied many young people on the farms all over Argyll, which went hand in glove with the social life that made Argyll living so agreeable. That era has passed and skills are being lost. Fisheries used to employ many in the coastal communities; again, those are in decline. Small villages were proud communities that competed in a friendly manner to have the best schools, shops, post offices and the like. That was the key to happy living. There are still strong, sustainable communities; Ardfern is one such example. However, all of us here recognise the pressures that a declining and ageing population will place on public services and the local economy. We risk losing the critical mass needed to retain services such as rural primary schools, the loss of which will discourage people from moving to the area—a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape.

The challenge for us is to reverse the population decline and to sow the seeds of something different. It is essential to increase economic growth and to attract new business. Government must provide the infrastructure, in particular transport links and digital communication technology. People like to be modern and not to be considered as hillbillies.

Since Roman times, areas have been judged by their roads. The future of the A83 trunk road—the key artery into Argyll, which links Cairndow to Campbeltown—must be at the top of the transport list. Many words have been spoken and diversionary routes put in place, but ask any business in Argyll and Bute and they will say that the Scottish Government needs to provide a permanent solution to deal with landslides. A canopy or covered emergency route option is the answer. People are frightened to travel that road. Argyll needs a reliable and safe road system, please.

That is fundamental, as are reliable and safe ferry services to Argyll’s islands and for those who commute from Dunoon to Glasgow. The isle of Colonsay suffers from an unfair situation, with freight charges 25 per cent more for shorter journeys than they are for other islands. It is an unlevel playing field.

Too many Argyll communities suffer from slow, unaffordable or non-existent broadband. Improvements must be inclusive. On the islands of Islay and Jura, Bowmore and Port Ellen are to get fibre optics but, although the roads are all being dug up at Port Askaig and Keil, people there will not benefit, and neither will Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte or Portnahaven, which are all being bypassed. That is not good enough for islands that provide a huge boost to the Treasury through whisky revenues. Holidaymakers now ask whether lettable properties have broadband, never mind 3G or 4G. Nowadays, no broadband can mean no visitors.

Ministers must consider additional funding for Highlands and Islands Enterprise to support new business start-ups and to attract new companies to Argyll and Bute. Planning relaxations are necessary where housing is in short supply and business developments are hampered. What is the point of conserving particular features of rural community buildings if the end result is that no one ends up living or working there?

How about local government-sponsored co-operative initiatives for businesses to overcome the expensive overheads involved in individual efforts? The council or HIE could act as a co-ordinator for that and there could be new initiatives between the council and the private sector on land use. What about tax incentives to grow business? Remember what schedule D did for forestry planting.

Finally, the issue of connectivity was emphasised by Dick Walsh and the council. E M Forster, author of five masterpieces, had the motto “Only connect.” Connection of transport, digital links and the physical and mental connection of people and ideas are vital.

Argyll has so many positives. Our wonderful scenery means that tourism is a key part of the economy. We have Oban’s world-class shellfish restaurants, our stunning islands, historic sites such as Inveraray castle and Mount Stuart and endlessly fascinating historic ruins. All that can be expanded with better promotion and a focus on genealogical and archaeological tourism. We have world-class country sports such as angling. The reintroduction of sporting rates will not help that sector and should be reconsidered.

The food and drink sector, not least of which is Islay’s whisky industry, is strong, but members should look at the telephone and electricity grids on Islay and Jura if they want to see something that needs to be improved.

Incentives for farmers to grow something other than just silage would be good and would also be good for biodiversity, especially of bird wildlife in Argyll and Bute, which is still an ornithologist’s dream.

The Scottish Association for Marine Science at Dunstaffnage has modernised, and the new European marine science park is a great addition. Argyll has great potential.

I am running out of time so I will conclude. I am looking for a commitment from the Scottish Government that in its policies it will treat tackling Argyll and Bute’s projected depopulation as a priority, because Argyll—Earra-Ghàidheal, or the coast of the Gaels—is a land of mystery and history, a vital and integral area of Scotland where the blood and the beauty lie strong. There is a Gypsy Traveller saying that they would not swap one square foot of Argyll for the whole of Perthshire and the Kingdom of Fife. There will be members in the chamber who might disagree, but nonetheless, Argyll is the enduring heartland.

12:41  

Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Jamie McGrigor

Although I agree that that big project is very welcome, does the minister agree that the areas that are left out are left at a considerable disadvantage, especially in the tourism market, and that those areas that are connected have an enormous advantage? Things are very difficult for some businesses.



European and External Relations Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

Thank you. I am an MSP for the Highlands and Islands. I am sorry if my questions cross-cut some of your previous answers, but because of the confusion that may be the case.

My first question is whether there will be a role for national Parliaments in the ratification of TTIP. My second question is to do with ISDS. What measures exist in TTIP to ensure that member states will retain their right to set policy without the threat of litigation from US companies?

10:30  

European and External Relations Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Jamie McGrigor

I have one more question. There has been a lot of media coverage and speculation in the UK that TTIP could lead to the privatisation of the national health service. In a letter to my colleague Ian Duncan MEP, the director general states that the EU’s approach would not lead to that. Do you anticipate that there will be a specific exemption for health services in TTIP?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
NoCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
YesCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-12045.2 Jackson Carlaw: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Ric
>> Show more
YesDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Jamie McGrigor
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11891: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11825.2: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11489: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11390: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11373: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 30/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11361: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 30/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11029.1: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10347.1: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10287: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09916.1: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Jamie McGrigor
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24015: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24016: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23841: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23842: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23735: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03799: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03761: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22940: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03624: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03525: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/09/2014 Show Full Question >>

Further information

Email our Public Information Service for more information.