Jean Urquhart MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Ind)

I welcome the Smith commission, and I welcome this debate very much. I am pleased to hear that it is generally welcomed, in spite of challenges about its predicting outcomes or somehow trying to influence the Smith commission. It would be passing strange if we did not debate the topic.

For me, one of the important and central themes of the referendum at the time of the great debate was recognition of our battle against poverty in Scotland. In general terms, the Parliament has a responsibility to redd up the consequences of poverty and inequality issues and policies from elsewhere—homelessness, illness, crime and unemployment—but it has very limited powers to prevent those consequences.

It is no longer sufficient for the Parliament to mitigate the effects of an austerity programme that has no mandate from Scottish voters. I believe that the Scottish people have the right to choose our own political, economic and social direction, and that means that the Parliament must have powers in areas such as workers’ rights, social security and inequalities, in order to set that direction.

We have a strong record on equalities in the Scottish Parliament, but the powers that we have to build on that are limited. After the success of votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, which many other members have mentioned, it is impossible to justify taking that right away, but that will happen unless we are granted the power to reduce the voting age for all elections.

In this Parliament there is also a strong belief in improving the representation of women. There is cross-party support for the women 50:50 project, which seeks legislation to improve the gender balance of the Parliament, but we have no role in legislating for the election of MSPs. Therefore, as things stand, we would have to beg Westminster to fulfil that ambition for us.

The impressive political participation of 16 and 17-year-olds and the drive for equal representation are symptomatic of the surge of public engagement in the future of Scotland that has accompanied and followed the referendum, on both sides of the debate. That has been celebrated by all parties. By contrast, those who want real engagement in UK politics have been forced to occupy Parliament Square in an attempt to be heard and have been met with intimidation and even violence by the authorities.

The Scottish people will not tolerate the promises of radical devolution being buried under the impenetrable elitism and grubby cynicism that the establishment has employed at Parliament Square. If the process is to meet the expectations of the people of Scotland, it absolutely must be undertaken in the spirit of the referendum campaign, with all the passion, ambition and messy participation that that implies.

It is important that we recognise how we have arrived in this place: without the Scottish people and the voters of Scotland, albeit in a great deal smaller numbers than the 84 per cent who voted in the referendum, we would not have the Scottish Government that delivered the referendum. The referendum has been seen to be one of the most amazing events in Scottish history. Let us not forget or walk away from that. It is no good saying that the no result is the settled will of the Scottish people when the outcome saw almost 45 per cent of the voters declare for independence.

We must accept that for people to come that distance was a massive achievement. Many people voted no and yes for very different reasons. However, it seems to be clear that the Smith commission’s challenge is to make sure that real powers are delivered for the Scottish Parliament in order to make the difference and to recognise that none of the policies stands alone. We cannot watch policies on employment and welfare at a distance and expect those policies not to have an effect on the powers that are devolved. For example, the health service is affected by those policies. Therefore, the issue is not all about income tax—in fact, it might not be even about income tax. The powers over other areas of public life are what would really make a difference to Scotland.

16:43  

Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Ind)

I would like to acknowledge the increase in money for housing. The fact that the cabinet secretary was honest enough to say that the money came from the enterprise budgets—Scottish Enterprise and, presumably, Highlands and Islands Enterprise—is welcome because, in the region that I represent, economic development is often seen as starting not with 150 or 400 houses but with four or five houses, which is enough to make a difference.

I ask that that fact is given some consideration in the spread of the money, because building just two houses in small communities in the Highlands and Islands can often make the difference in keeping a small builder and a number of other people in work and in regenerating the economy.



Finance Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Ind)

From reading the paper, it seems to me that you have dispensed with the idea of the vow, which other political parties have made, that the Barnett formula will remain untouched. Is that correct?



Finance Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Jean Urquhart

In several parts of your paper you suggest that we are dealt with generously, and that that largesse is more or less because of the oil. However, the reality is that we have contributed far more in oil revenues than has ever come back to us through the Barnett formula.



Finance Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Jean Urquhart

That is the implication in your paper, but I think that it has been challenged and found wanting—that is my point. You link the relatively generous block grant to oil, but others say that about £150 billion has not come back. We will leave it there.

On reading your paper, I feel that we are a bit hamstrung. We agree that devolution of income tax does not leave Scotland in a better place and that the word “power” might be a bit strong in that regard. Real power would be power over taxation. Should we argue for that?



Finance Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Jean Urquhart

Did you not make the case in your paper that there would be constraints because we would still be tied to an economic approach that is set around the London area, and the financial sector in particular?



Finance Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Jean Urquhart

If you were to write a paper from the perspective of showing the powers that Scotland needs to grow its economy and develop industries, would you say that it needs the power to create taxes and impose them on different aspects of industries in Scotland?



Finance Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Jean Urquhart

With devolved income tax, it would be clear that we should develop the financial sector, because it provides the highest income from tax revenues. Is that right?



Finance Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Jean Urquhart

Your paper refers to the UK as though it is a really well-functioning monetary union and suggests that somehow there is an advantage to being tied to it. Is that really what you think?



Finance Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Jean Urquhart

Okay—thank you.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

 
NoDefeated

 
NoDefeated

 
YesCarried

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Jean Urquhart
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11362: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 30/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11355: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11312: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11276: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 22/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10841: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 19/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10638: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 21/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10386: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09585: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 02/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09550: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 31/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09537: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 28/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Jean Urquhart
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03529: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 16/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22542: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 05/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22540: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 05/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22541: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 05/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22539: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 05/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22401: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 19/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22341: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 12/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22315: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 08/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21979: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 27/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21978: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 27/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

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