John Lamont MSP

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John Lamont MSP

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Parliamentary Activities

Member of the Parliamentary Bureau

Search for other Speeches made by John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

I, too, am pleased to speak in this debate, and I congratulate Christina McKelvie on securing the time to allow it to take place. I add my support to the call for the franchise to be extended to include 16 and 17-year-olds across the whole of the United Kingdom.

It is true that my party initially opposed lowering the age for voting in the referendum. At the time, we made it clear that we were not opposed to altering the age for voting but we were opposed to singling out the referendum for a trial extension of the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds.

Notwithstanding that, I fully accept the decision of the Parliament to lower the voting age for the referendum. Indeed, without the Prime Minister’s signature on the Edinburgh agreement, 16 and 17-year-olds would not have been allowed to vote.

The situation now is entirely different, as 16 and 17-year-olds have been given the vote. They have conducted themselves commendably and they have engaged in the political process. The motion talks about how 16 and 17-year-olds were “highly visible” and active and made a welcome contribution to the constitutional debate in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse. That certainly reflects what I witnessed of young people across the Scottish Borders. During the long referendum campaign, I spoke to many young voters in school debates, at hustings and on polling day itself. I was hugely impressed by the level of engagement and understanding that they demonstrated. It was clear that many of them were taking their responsibility very seriously by turning out to vote, and I hope that their experience will encourage them to participate in future elections.

That is why I believe that the case has now been made to lower the franchise, but that should be done in the correct way—namely, on a UK-wide basis. I will not repeat at length the arguments about at what age people should be allowed to vote. Parliaments have to draw a line somewhere and it seems to me that there are valid arguments for having the age for voting set at 16, 17 or 18. That is particularly true in the United Kingdom where there is no single age at which all responsibilities and liabilities are imposed at once. One age is not necessarily better than others. Indeed, we need to do more to engage with voters of all ages and to increase turnout.

However, one point that I find convincing is that, when the voting age was reduced in other countries, turnout rates for 16 and 17-year-olds were found to be comparable to those of the electorate at large and higher than those for 18 to 20-year-olds. If lowering the voting age will help to increase overall turnout rates, that is a compelling reason to look at it very closely.

On a purely practical level, we cannot ignore the fact that the vote has now been given to 16 and 17-year-olds. We are therefore now talking about withdrawing the right to vote from a group of people who have been allowed to vote on the future of Scotland and the United Kingdom. Now that that decision has been taken, to oppose extending the franchise in all elections would be the wrong thing to do. Given the way in which 16 and 17-year-olds conducted themselves last month, we should all be proud of them and we should be thinking very carefully about extending the franchise to them all permanently.

12:54  

Meeting of the Parliament 25 June 2014 : Wednesday, June 25, 2014
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con) Amendments 1 and 2 seek to introduce a local connection criterion for social landlords to consider when allocating houses. One of the biggest concerns for my constituents is the frustration that local people cannot always secure local housing in their own communities. People are often forced to apply for and take housing in some of the larger settlements in the Borders, which might be several miles away from their family and community and some distance away from their place of work. Such an approach is not consistent with the aim of encouraging cohesive communities.

The purpose of amendment 1 is to enable social landlords to give extra priority to applicants who have a local connection. I initially proposed my amendments at stage 2, when the minister kindly said that although she was sympathetic to my aims, she was concerned that my amendments did not require the applicant to have an unmet housing need. I took that on board and I have lodged redesigned amendments that would ensure that housing need remains a priority for social landlords.

Amendment 1 would give social landlords discretion to define “particular connection” to meet their needs. In rural areas such as the Borders, a local area might be a particular town or village, whereas in a city it might be a particular street, or it might be even more specific than that.

Amendment 2 clarifies that and confirms the intentions behind amendment 1.

All political parties have paid lip service to the notion of supporting local housing allocations policy. Indeed, the Labour Party said in its 2011 manifesto that it wanted to reform the allocations system, to ensure that

“sufficient weight”

was

“given to meeting the needs of local people.”

I hope that the Parliament will support my amendments today.

I move amendment 1.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 June 2014 : Wednesday, June 25, 2014
John Lamont The minster states that she believes that the current flexible system is adequate, but it is clear from the correspondence that I get from my constituents that the current system is not adequate, in that local families are not always able to stay in the local community of their choice.

I will deal with some of the remarks that Jackie Baillie made about my amendment 1. Clearly, there is some misunderstanding about the intentions behind my amendments 1 and 2. Those who are homeless, or other priority groups, would still get priority under my proposed measures. Amendment 1 would simply ensure that, where all other factors are equal, local connections would count more than they currently do.

On the suggestion that ethnic minorities could be disadvantaged by my proposal, I point out that it is often the case that ethnic minority groups also want to live close to family members as part of their own community, so they would also be able to take advantage of the amendment.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 June 2014 : Wednesday, June 25, 2014
John Lamont Amendment 1 is not the same as what has been introduced south of the border. I am proposing my own amendment, which I hope will deal with the concerns that I am getting in my mailbag—I am sure that Jackie Baillie is also receiving letters from her constituents, voicing similar concerns about how local social housing is allocated. I intend to press amendments 1 and 2.

The Conservative group will not be supporting amendment 40, in the name of Jackie Baillie, as we would prefer the matter to be left to the discretion of local authorities. We will support amendment 41, in the name of Alex Johnstone, and we will also support amendment 42, in the name of Mary Fee, which we believe gives further discretion to local landlords in the allocation of social housing.



Meeting of the Parliament 05 June 2014 : Thursday, June 05, 2014
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

6. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the Commonwealth games organising committee about the use of the special reserve fund. (S4O-03321)



Meeting of the Parliament 05 June 2014 : Thursday, June 05, 2014
John Lamont Last week, it was reported that the Commonwealth games organisers were preparing to access the special reserve fund to finance alterations to the opening and closing ceremonies. Although we all anticipate an exciting and successful games, the special reserve was, in the words of one Government official, intended to be called on only if a “really unexpected, left-field event” occurred. Access to the fund has to come through the First Minister. Can the cabinet secretary confirm whether the reports are accurate and, if so, how much money will be taken from the special reserve?



Meeting of the Parliament 03 June 2014 : Tuesday, June 03, 2014
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con) I, too, thank the cabinet secretary for an advance copy of his statement.

As the cabinet secretary said, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and friends and those who are still in hospital. We should also think of the spectators and marshals who witnessed the horrific scenes on Saturday afternoon.

Clearly, it is welcome news that a full investigation will be carried out. However, I caution against any knee-jerk reactions in how we respond to the tragedy. The rally is a long-established event in the Borders, and although everyone is shocked by what happened at the weekend, it would be regrettable if any premature decisions were taken about the event’s future.

Can the cabinet secretary assure me that there will be close co-operation with the Motor Sports Association, the Berwick & District Motor Club and the Border Ecosse Car Club to ensure that any additional controls are realistic and achievable in order to allow the continued running of this and similar events?



Meeting of the Parliament 21 May 2014 : Wednesday, May 21, 2014
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con) A motion of no confidence is a very serious matter and not one that the Scottish Conservatives take lightly. After careful consideration, we will be supporting calls for Alex Neil to resign, for the simple reason that we believe that it cannot be acceptable for a minister to come to the chamber and allow Parliament to be misled.

We have all seen the evidence, but it is worth going over once again. On 26 September 2012, Alex Neil told Parliament that he believed that NHS Lanarkshire was revising its plans on mental health services at Monklands. A few hours later, he announced that he would be removing himself from the formal decision-making process surrounding the plan, because of his constituency interests.

That was all accepted in good faith but, thanks to a freedom of information request, we now know that, five hours before addressing Parliament, Alex Neil’s private secretary had emailed a civil servant in the health department. That email could not have been clearer. Sent to health officials in the Scottish Government, it declared that Mr Neil was clear that the mental health facilities should be retained. It concluded:

“The Cabinet Secretary has asked that you seek agreement from NHS Lanarkshire to reconfigure their plans accordingly.”

Astonishingly, even Michael Matheson was copied into the email. So, in the morning, he was made aware that the decision to retain Monklands had already been made by his superior yet, that very afternoon, he was told that the decision over Monklands was being delegated to him.

It is of course the right of every member of the Parliament, be they a minister or not, to oppose decisions that affect their constituents, and we do not disagree that, as a newly appointed minister, Mr Neil was within his rights to reconsider decisions that his predecessor had taken. However, the issue here is not about the rights and wrongs of closing medical facilities at Monklands, and nor is it about Mr Neil’s competence in his job. The issue at hand is a cabinet secretary who ordered his officials to do one thing in the morning and then decided consciously not to reveal that fact to Parliament in the afternoon.

I suggest that this is a sad instance of a minister deliberately allowing an untruth to gain credence in order to avoid difficult questions about his position. Mr Neil should have told Parliament that afternoon that he had just told NHS Lanarkshire to “reconfigure their plans”. That he did not do so was not just a dereliction of duty; it now looks suspiciously like a tacit admission that he knew that he was doing something underhand and wrong—it is as simple as that.

The fact is that the investigation that the First Minister carried out into the case failed utterly to address that point. The First Minister said that the health secretary acted “perfectly properly”. His defence of Mr Neil goes on to note that Mr Neil was concerned over a conflict of interest, but nowhere in the First Minister’s letter exonerating Mr Neil is the key point raised—that, by the time that Mr Neil raised his concerns about a conflict of interest, his wishes had already been made clear to NHS Lanarkshire. Nowhere is there acknowledgement of the fact that Mr Neil made the decision and then tried to wash his hands of it. Now, by refusing to sack his health secretary, the First Minister is putting politics above the Parliament.

The whole episode is symptomatic of the SNP’s disregard for the Parliament, particularly in the run-up to the independence referendum. It gives us in the Conservatives no pleasure to conclude that, in this instance, the cabinet secretary deliberately ensured that Parliament was misled. As he clearly did so, we can no longer have confidence in him in carrying out his duties, so we support the motion of no confidence.



Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee 14 May 2014 : Wednesday, May 14, 2014
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con) I will speak to amendments 1 and 2, in my name. One of the biggest issues that concern my constituents is frustration that local people cannot always secure social housing in their own communities. People are often forced to apply for and take housing in some of the larger settlements in the Borders, which might be several miles from the rest of their family and community, as well as being some distance from their place of work. Such an approach is not consistent with local housing associations’ aim to encourage a cohesive community. A few miles might not sound like a lot, but it is important to recognise that it can be a significant distance in a rural community such as the Borders.

The purpose of amendment 1, therefore, is to enable social landlords to give extra priority to applicants who have a local connection. I am not saying that having a local connection should be a trump card that overrules all other considerations. Of course applicants who are homeless or have medical needs should have priority. However, where all else is equal, a local connection should be taken into account.

Amendment 1 might have the greatest impact in rural communities such as those in my constituency, but I can see that it would also have a considerable impact in more urban areas and cities. In many ethnic minority communities people want to live close to family and other members of their community, and amendment 1 would enable social landlords to accommodate such considerations.

I accept that the concept of “local” is different in each part of Scotland. What is local in the Borders will be completely different from what is local in Glasgow and other cities. Amendment 1 would therefore give social landlords discretion about how they define “particular connection”, to meet their needs. In rural areas such as the Borders, the local area might be a particular town or village, whereas in a city it might be a particular street—it might be even more specific.

Amendment 2 would simply clarify and confirm the intentions behind amendment 1.

All political parties have paid lip service to the notion of supporting a local housing allocations policy. Indeed, the Labour Party said in its 2011 manifesto that it wanted to reform the allocations system to ensure that

“sufficient weight is given to meeting the needs of local people.”

I hope that the committee will support amendments 1 and 2.



Meeting of the Parliament 14 May 2014 : Wednesday, May 14, 2014
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

1. To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to address the attainment gap between children from the poorest and wealthiest homes. (S4O-03206)

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

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

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

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

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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NoCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by John Lamont
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-10307: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09909: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09807: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09258: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09138: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08974: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08855: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08734: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, On Behalf of City of Edinburgh Council (Leith Links and Surplus Fire Fund) Bill Committee, Date Lodged: 09/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08578: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08334: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by John Lamont
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03600: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22400: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03509: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22221: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 31/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22201: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03321: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03285: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03206: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20761: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03164: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Question >>

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