Joan McAlpine MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Joan McAlpine (South Scotland) (SNP)

Balanced energy generation has to be our short-term strategy. That is common sense, and that is why we must continue to urge the UK Government to change its discriminatory charging regime, because it is damaging Longannet and the future of Scotland’s renewables industry.

However, there is no contradiction in combining that short-term pragmatism with the long-term ambition to be a greener nation, as the World Wide Fund for Nature’s report “Pathways to Power: Scotland’s route to clean, renewable, secure electricity by 2030” says is achievable—not by tomorrow but by 2030.

The research that was carried out by the respected energy consultant DNV GL rather flies in the face of the gloomy claims that renewable energy cannot provide baseload power supply. There are challenges with every type of generation. In fact, output from a thermal plant can drop off suddenly, posing serious operational challenges, as the National Grid highlighted to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.

The WWF report outlines two scenarios, both of which fit within current Scottish Government policy. The first is what it calls the high climate risk scenario, which involves the commercialisation of carbon capture and storage technology. The second, which it calls the low climate risk scenario, envisages a future energy supply without the use of CCS, on a commercial basis, and with no other gas, coal or nuclear plant in the system. According to WWF and its consultants, both those scenarios are technically and economically achievable. WWF calls on Westminster to make electricity market reform work better for offshore wind in particular, stating that

“The enduring regime under Electricity Market Reform is currently constraining”

the growth of offshore renewables to

“around one project under the first allocation round ... which could severely restrict growth in Scotland.”

It continues:

“The current lack of ambition and certainty risks stymying investment in an industry with long-lead in times and a need for deployment at scale to drive learning and cost-reductions.”

I share the concerns for Longannet that have been expressed across the chamber, and I am particularly concerned about the future of the workforce. However, figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that across the course of a year, without Longannet, Scotland’s electricity generation will still exceed demand. We should not forget that Scotland is a net exporter of electricity to the rest of the UK.

Our challenge in the long term is to create sustainable jobs. Again, the solution can be found in renewables—a sector that has already led to the establishment of an industry that is responsible for 11,000 full-time jobs in Scotland and billions of pounds of inward investment.

However, one key dimension to the renewables revolution deserves more attention in the chamber: energy storage technology. Being “the Saudi Arabia of renewables” is of little use without somewhere to store all the green energy. Scottish Renewables agrees and argues that we will, by 2030, need better storage as well as increased interconnection.

Brian Richardson, who is a constituent of mine and the chief executive officer of Energy Storage Scotland, has convincingly argued that the development of storage technology in Scotland presents an exceptional opportunity for training, jobs and a place in the global market. Although we have a tried and tested technology in pump storage, on which we lead, many other exciting energy storage technologies are being developed around the world, and our universities—in particular, Heriot-Watt University—are keen to develop them further in Scotland.

On 5 March, I will host a presentation in the Parliament by Energy Storage Scotland and Heriot-Watt University’s energy academy on the development of those technologies. I hope that members from around the chamber with an interest in the matter will attend.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 18 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Joan McAlpine

When we took evidence from businesses in Perthshire, I was struck by the number of them that said that a lot of their marketing was done through the internet—they did not use advertising—and that having an effective website is a great way to make contact with overseas clients. Is that your experience? What more should we do to get more companies to understand the importance of the internet for exporting?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 18 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Joan McAlpine

Does your organisation do much work in rural areas?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 18 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Joan McAlpine

Your submission also states:

“Building greater confidence to export can come from creating local networking opportunities for businesses”

so that they can share their experiences of exporting, both good and bad. Are there areas of the country where those networks could do with being strengthened?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 18 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Joan McAlpine

Obviously, within the enterprise network for Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the threshold for support is lower in terms of company turnover. In rural parts of Scottish Enterprise’s enterprise network, such as those in the south of Scotland, the threshold is the same as it would be for companies in the central belt. With regard to SMEs getting support to export, have you noticed a difference between the situation in rural parts of the Scottish Enterprise network and that in the HIE network?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 18 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Joan McAlpine (South Scotland) (SNP)

In your submission, you talk about the success of the client-account based approach of Scottish Enterprise but you also talk about the companies that are missing out on potential support because they are not part of that approach, which is particularly the case with SMEs.

During our budget scrutiny, it emerged that the number of growth export companies in Dumfries and Galloway—which is part of the area that I represent—was 1.8 per cent of the total in Scotland. Is the enterprise network supporting export growth companies outwith the central belt as much as it could?



Meeting of the Parliament 18 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Joan McAlpine (South Scotland) (SNP)

We are now almost halfway through the debate and we have still to hear an apology from Scottish Labour after its leader Jim Murphy was caught red-handed fiddling NHS figures and trying to save himself a red face by deleting his false tweets and his YouTube video making those false claims.

Talking of red faces, someone really has to have a brass neck to come to this chamber, as Jenny Marra did today, to praise NHS staff while failing to apologise for undermining their hard work by publishing false statistics about operation times. Labour’s misrepresentation was not a minor matter; out of the 292 cancelled operations that were cited by Jim Murphy, more than 200 were cancelled for clinical reasons—that is more than 70 per cent. Ms Marra is on very shaky ground when she comes here to talk about honesty, transparency and statistics, given Labour’s own appalling record on such matters—on hidden waiting lists, for example, or on that embarrassing photograph of Ms Marra herself outside the Glenrothes health centre that had been replaced by a £5.8 million new facility.

In her speech, Ms Marra introduced another blooper into Labour’s abysmal record on these matters. She cited the consultancy McKinsey to attack the Scottish NHS. If she had done her homework—she might end up blaming her researcher for this; who knows?—Ms Marra would have known that McKinsey is a company that has been regularly exposed for its role in privatising the NHS in England. Dr Phil Hammond, the respected doctor and commentator, said that McKinsey is the firm that “hijacked the NHS” in England. For example, McKinsey drew up many of the clauses in Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act 2012—the legislation that has taken the NHS in England far down the road towards privatisation; a journey, incidentally, that began with Tony Blair’s Labour Party when it established foundation hospitals in England.

McKinsey is already benefiting from contracts arising from the Health and Social Care Act 2012, according to an extensive investigation by Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch, which monitors the lobbying industry. Serious concerns have been expressed about the revolving door between the marketised English NHS, McKinsey and the Government. Indeed, one of McKinsey’s executives was an adviser to Tony Blair and then went on to head up Monitor, which is the regulator of the NHS south of the border.

McKinsey, of course, worked closely with the last UK Labour Government on health, and in 2009 it produced a report recommending that the NHS in England cut 10 per cent of its staff. Within weeks of the coalition taking power, McKinsey had been awarded a £6 million contract by Mr Lansley’s department. Serious questions have been raised about the fact that McKinsey represents private healthcare companies around the world, which is a serious conflict of interest when it has worked with the NHS in England. Ms Marra should be very careful about who she cites in evidence to trash the Scottish NHS.

Dr Hammond has praised the NHS in Scotland under this Government for rejecting the kind of market competition that has brought the NHS in England close to destruction. This Government has a very good record on health. We have 17,000 more nurses than we had under Labour, and those are real nurses, not the fictitious 1,000-plus nurses of Jim Murphy’s imagination. We have 13,000 more consultants. Perhaps most important of all, patient satisfaction is higher in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK. According to the social attitudes survey, 75 per cent of patients are satisfied with the NHS in Scotland compared with 51 per cent in Wales, where the NHS is in Labour’s hands.

Also significantly, the NHS in Scotland is more trusted in the SNP’s hands, according to a Survation poll taken in January. I have to say that I am not very surprised by that statistic, given what we have seen over the last couple of days and the lies that Labour is prepared to tell in order to gain political advantage in this matter.

15:36  

Meeting of the Parliament 17 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Joan McAlpine (South Scotland) (SNP)

This morning, Dumfries and Galloway Council announced a U-turn on its decision to cut 52 additional support for learning posts, including teachers. Does the cabinet secretary agree that that vindicates strong action from the Scottish Government, because it encourages Labour councils such as Dumfries and Galloway Council, which would not have done so, to commit to maintaining teacher numbers?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Joan McAlpine

As well as being strongly in favour of a studio, the producers were strongly in favour of a dedicated screen agency. I know that it was the Labour Scottish Executive that took the decision to get rid of Scottish Screen and to form Creative Scotland, but the strong message from the industry is that it would like a dedicated screen agency. Would you look at that idea sympathetically?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Joan McAlpine

You said that a studio would have to have a cultural dimension but, as I read the SPICe paper, I was struck by the fact that that would be judged in terms of British culture. I know that the studio in Valencia failed because it was believed that there was already enough provision in Spain. Would we suffer because there is quite a lot of film production space elsewhere in the UK? Could we argue a specific case as a nation within the UK, or would the European Union not look at the issue in that context?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12423.1 Alex Rowley: Commission on Local Tax Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-12423 in the n
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-12423 Marco Biagi: Commission on Local Tax Reform—That the Parliament supports the establishment
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-12385 Liz Smith: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament agrees that a solid grou
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YesCarried

S4M-12395.1 Fergus Ewing: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in the
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YesCarried

S4M-12395.2 Patrick Harvie: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in t
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AbstainDefeated

S4M-12395 Murdo Fraser: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—That the Parliament notes with concern the l
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YesCarried

S4M-12385.3 Alasdair Allan: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to motion S4M-12385 i
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YesCarried

S4M-12382.3 Mary Fee: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion S4
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NoDefeated

S4M-12382.1 Gavin Brown: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion
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NoDefeated

S4M-12382.2 Willie Rennie: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to moti
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NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Joan McAlpine
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12161: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-00602: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/08/2011 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12066: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11150: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08987: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09405: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09341: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08990: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08709: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08705: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24459: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24460: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24456: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24457: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24458: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03885: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02513: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23695: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03842: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03796: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>

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