Jean Urquhart MSP

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Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Ind)

Good morning. I will continue on the same theme. The CBI submission gives the impression that there is a stable economy and that we would be foolish to vote for independence and to break away from that. On page 4 in paragraph 11, your submission says that

“The UK labour market works”,

but it is not working for a lot of people. Why do you not mention that more and more businesses in Scotland are paying the living wage? What is your position on that? You have partially answered that question already.

In paragraph 14, you say:

“the CBI ... supports the continuation of a UK-wide National Minimum Wage”.

You must acknowledge that business organisations fought pretty hard not to have a minimum wage when it was proposed by the Labour Party. The minimum wage has been static for a long time, and the stable economy that you talk about does not have a stable workforce. The fact is that wages in the financial sector have grown by 19 per cent in the past year, yet living standards have dropped by 44 per cent. That is shocking. How can the CBI support that?



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

By the same token, do you have any comment to make, on behalf of your members, on the use of zero-hours contracts or short-term temporary contracts? Those are other things that make our workforce unstable and that make living almost impossible for a number of people.



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

Do you think that there is no evidence to show that they are being used in the wrong way?



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

Returning to an earlier statement about the unfair competitiveness and disadvantage to other parts of the United Kingdom that independence would have brought, I understand that a majority of people who sent responses to the Smith commission wanted the power to adjust the minimum wage to come to Scotland. Might that have set a competitive advantage that would have challenged the other parts of the UK in a good way and for all the right reasons?



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

I mean that being able to adjust the minimum wage—having the power to control the minimum wage—in Scotland is something that I understand a number of respondents to the Smith commission asked for. I know that it has not been recommended, but some of your earlier statements were about the differences and why things should remain the same so that there can be stability, and I know that a lot of people would question whether we have stability. Do you not see that having that power here could influence other parts of the United Kingdom?



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

We know that the Scottish Government is encouraging everybody to pay the living wage, which is a considerable increase on the current minimum wage, but the CBI does not recognise that in its paper. Scottish Chambers of Commerce is consulting its members and I am sure that the FSB’s members will be interested in that, too. If we generally increase the minimum wage, we increase the wellbeing of everybody in the country.



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

I would be interested to hear from the FSB and Scottish Chambers of Commerce on those points. Scottish Chambers of Commerce has been asking its members about the living wage. Do you have the low pay unit’s evidence on the improvement that can happen when people are paid the living wage, in terms of stability and reduced staff turnover? The evidence is mounting that there has to be an increase.



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

Many businesses said that they could not afford to pay the minimum wage when it was introduced, but somehow they managed, so would you agree that something as fundamental as setting a minimum wage across the board helps all businesses, because everybody has to pay it? It is not a question of whether one business can afford to pay it or not; it is about businesses not wanting people to live in poverty.



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

This will be my last question on employment. Low wages are affecting the employment rate. We say that we have reduced unemployment, which is true, but would you agree that we have quantity, not quality?



Finance Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Jean Urquhart

I think that the matter is key to that, convener.

The FSB submission says:

“it certainly seems that the Scottish Parliament is set to become a more powerful actor in our economy.”

We know from the unbalanced nature of the UK economy that growth has become decoupled from rising living standards. However, as I have shown in earlier questions, economic growth does not necessarily lead to increased living standards. What particular power would Colin Borland see coming to the Scottish Parliament that would make us

“a more powerful actor in our economy”?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

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

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
NoDefeated

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

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

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
Not VotedDefeated

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Jean Urquhart
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11943: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11937: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11936: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11559: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 14/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11518: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
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 >>
Search for other Questions asked by Jean Urquhart
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03758: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
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 >>

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