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 19 February 2015 : Thursday, February 19, 2015
John Lamont

I very much welcome the Scottish Government’s recent decision to increase national health service spending by £282 million. Of course, that was made possible only by spending decisions made by the Conservative-led United Kingdom Government, which resulted in the Scottish National Party Government having £300 million extra to spend in 2015-16. Although the average increase for boards across Scotland is 3.4 per cent, NHS Borders is getting only 2.4 per cent. Will the minister explain why NHS Borders has been short-changed by £1.7 million?



Meeting of the Parliament 19 February 2015 : Thursday, February 19, 2015
8. John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

To ask the Scottish Government when ministers last met representatives of NHS Borders and what issues were discussed. (S4O-04028)



Meeting of the Parliament 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

I, too, thank Hanzala Malik for securing time for this important members’ business debate and for the way in which he addressed the issue in his speech.

On Monday, the doors to the army public school in Peshawar opened for the first time to students following the barbaric Taliban attack in December last year. I join members in denouncing the depraved violence that senselessly killed scores of schoolchildren and teachers. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and their loved ones as they struggle to come to terms with loss on an unimaginable scale.

The barbarity of the attack is unfathomable not only because the Pakistani Taliban targeted innocents but because they attacked a school. Sadly, it is but one of many in northern Pakistan to have been targeted by Taliban forces over recent years. According to Human Rights Watch, there were at least 838 attacks on schools in Pakistan between 2009 and 2012.

The Taliban accuses schools of

“promoting western decadence and un-Islamic teachings”,

but schools are also seen as soft targets. That is the height of cowardice.

I applaud the brave students and staff in Peshawar who have defiantly returned this week to the scene of unspeakable brutality but, as the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said following the attack,

“Going to school should not have to be an act of bravery.”

The International Crisis Group reports that the education of hundreds of thousands has been disrupted after their families fled militant violence in Pakistan, while more than 9 million children are not currently receiving a primary or secondary education. Every child must have the right to go to school, and every child on every continent should feel safe in their school.

On the same day as the attack on the army public school in Peshawar, 40 countries and 10 international organisations convened in Geneva to unveil the “Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict”. Those guidelines underline existing rules under international humanitarian law and are intended to promote better understanding and implementation of the Geneva conventions. That is a step in the right direction, but if we are to have a real and enduring impact, we must target the root cause of the issue, which is the scourge of violent extremism.

Extremism has dominated the headlines over recent days, weeks and months, and events in France provide a stark reminder that we are talking about a global concern. The cancer of violent extremism exists everywhere, from Peshawar to Paris, and from the towns and villages of north-eastern Nigeria to the central business district of Sydney and Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Let us not forget that Nigeria, a country that is beset by violence at the hands of Boko Haram—which we should remind ourselves translates as meaning that western or non-Islamic education is a sin—endured a massacre last week, the death toll of which was nearly 2,000. Shockingly, four days ago, a little girl of about 10 years of age detonated explosives that were hidden under her veil, killing almost 20 people. The Catholic Archbishop of Jos has urged the west not to overlook the crisis in Nigeria, and we must act to combat violent extremism at home and abroad.

The global problem requires a global response, and I welcome the announcement from Washington that the White House will next month host the delayed summit on countering violent extremism. Closer to home, the UK Government is working hard to combat extremism with its prevent strategy, which supports community-based campaigns to rebut terrorist and extremist propaganda. The UK Government is also working closely with its international partners to combat the deadly threat of violent extremism that is posed by Isil, al-Qa’ida, the Taliban and other networks. That collaborative approach is key.

As we struggle to understand why almost 150 children and teachers lost their lives in an act of total depravity, and as we come to terms with the loss of 17 victims following the attacks in Paris last week, it seems apposite to end with the words of Malala Yousafzai. In 2013, the 16-year-old Nobel prize winner addressed the UN with the somewhat prescient words:

“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”

17:28  

Meeting of the Parliament 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
John Lamont

The minister might be aware that, as part of a review of clinical services, NHS Borders is considering the future of hospitals in Duns, Hawick, Kelso and Peebles. I have been flooded with emails and letters from concerned residents, patients and staff who cannot understand why busy local hospitals that free up beds in the Borders general hospital might be lost.

The Scottish Government’s community hospital strategy states that community hospitals

“are more important than ever in providing both health and social care services for local communities.”

As the strategy points out, the Scottish Government’s vision for healthcare includes

“shifting the balance of care from large institutions into community settings.”

Has the minister had any discussions with NHS Borders on the suggestion that facilities in Duns, Hawick, Kelso and Peebles might close? Given the Scottish Government’s apparent support for community hospitals, will the minister join me in making it clear to NHS Borders that those local facilities must stay open, and will he rule out supporting any closures in the Borders?



Meeting of the Parliament 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
12. John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

To ask the Scottish Government whether it supports the role that community hospitals play in helping with the provision of local healthcare and freeing up beds in larger hospitals. (S4O-03892)



Meeting of the Parliament 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
John Lamont

I thank the cabinet secretary for that further helpful response. Since the announcement on Friday, the organisers of the rally have been in contact with me to say that Scottish Borders Council feels unable, while the police inquiry is on-going, to discuss the possibility of a 2015 rally and closed roads. That is despite assurances from the Minster for Transport and Veterans in June that the rally could take place in 2015 provided that it complied with the recommendations that would be made by the Scottish Government’s sports safety review team.

I understand that there is still time for a rally to be held in May 2015—that is the position of the organisers, who issued a statement to that effect this morning. Will the Scottish Government intervene to facilitate discussions between the organisers, Scottish Borders Council and the police? More specifically, will the cabinet secretary encourage the Lord Advocate to meet me and the race organisers with a view to issuing guidelines to allow the organisers and the council to proceed with planning the 2015 event?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
John Lamont

I thank the cabinet secretary for her response. Everyone involved wants rallying to be as safe as it can be, following the tragic events earlier this year.

Given the announcement last week that the rally will not go ahead in 2015 as planned, does the cabinet secretary believe that there was adequate consultation between the race organisers and elected representatives before the decision was made?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
1. John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to Scottish Borders Council’s decision not to allow the Jim Clark rally to take place in 2015. (S4T-00822)



Meeting of the Parliament 06 November 2014 : Thursday, November 06, 2014
John Lamont

The Prime Minister’s primary concern was commercial lobbying, but there are other aspects of the legislation south of the border that involve the voluntary sector. I believe that the UK Government has worked well with some of the voluntary groups to bring them on board. Organisations such as the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which initially opposed the new laws at Westminster, worked with the UK Government and were eventually persuaded that the laws were worthy of support.

There are already checks and balances in place, and an element of regulation already exists in Scotland. Umbrella bodies and individual companies have voluntary codes of conduct or registration schemes for their members and staff that are generally described as a form of self-regulation. The Association of Professional Political Consultants, the Public Relations Consultants Association and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations—the three main membership organisations for public affairs practitioners—require their members to abide by their respective codes of conduct. The APPC and the UK Public Affairs Council have similar registers.

Freedom of information legislation can and has been used to determine information about meetings between Government staff, ministers, MSPs and lobbyists. On that, I disagree with the organisation Spinwatch, which told the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee that a

“relative dearth of investigative journalism”

means that it is not clear whether there is a problem with inappropriate lobbying in Scotland. Journalists in Scotland are a persistent bunch, and I have no doubt about their abilities to find a story or a scandal, were one to exist. Added to that, the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006 rightly prohibits MSPs from receiving payment from lobbyists, and the code of conduct for MSPs and the ministerial code of conduct remind members of their responsibilities when dealing with lobbyists.

There is little evidence that lobbyists are acting in an underhand way in Scotland, and some mechanisms already exist to promote transparency. In that context, I remain somewhat sceptical that a change in the law, as proposed by Neil Findlay, is necessary or desirable. Nevertheless, I am open to persuasion and I accept that, although there might not be a widespread problem, that does not mean that additional transparency would not help to prevent a problem from emerging in the future.

The reason that I am cautious about that is because of what we risk losing by the creation of a lobbying register. Any change in the law must be proportionate so as not to act as a deterrent to those who seek to engage in a legitimate way. I have no doubt that, if we were to introduce charges or overly onerous regulation, many third sector organisations and smaller businesses would be unable to carry on with their lobbying activity. I am also sure that some larger organisations might come to the conclusion that it was no longer in their interests to make representations to politicians in an effort to improve legislation.

As Professor Susan Deacon from the University of Edinburgh told the committee,

“if the Parliament’s aim and aspiration is to encourage openness and access and a free flow of information, and to build understanding, the last thing that we want is people worrying about how they are labelled and whether they have complied with the rules before they speak to politicians.”—[Official Report, Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, 27 February 2014; c 981.]

In conclusion, I point out that, although the Scottish lobbying environment may be different from Westminster’s, we must not ignore the legislation that has been passed south of the border. Many lobbyists work across the United Kingdom, and the introduction of two wildly different schemes could introduce unnecessary complexity.

16:34  

Meeting of the Parliament 06 November 2014 : Thursday, November 06, 2014
John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

I welcome this afternoon’s debate, which has on the whole reflected what I believe is a desire on behalf of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee and the Scottish Government to identify a set of proposals that all parties can stand behind. Although I remain to be convinced that a change in the law is necessary or, indeed, desirable, I acknowledge the wish to achieve cross-party consensus for improving the transparency of lobbying.

The main point that I would like to make this afternoon is that we must all be careful not to label lobbying as a dirty business. It is a legitimate and worthwhile activity, and one that is sometimes specifically required by statute. We have passed legislation in this chamber that requires consultation and review, and we must be mindful that any restrictions on lobbying might harm the Parliament’s ability to reform and improve on existing legislation.

Lobbying helps to generate effective and informed public policy and legislation. As an Opposition politician, I understand the value of expert opinion on legislation. In the absence of civil servants at our disposal, Opposition parties find helpful the suggestions from those in the know about the impact and likely outcome of new laws. Any changes to lobbying practice that make it more difficult for that advice to be given therefore put at risk the ability of Opposition parties to hold Governments to account.

I understand the desire for transparency on this issue. Voters rightly deserve to know how legislation is made and who is talking to politicians. While he was leader of the Opposition at Westminster, David Cameron predicted that commercial lobbying was

“the next big scandal waiting to happen”,

which is why the UK Government legislated to create a register for third-party lobbyists.

My concern is that there is little evidence that we have a particular problem with lobbying in Scotland. Those who are calling for reform have not yet produced the evidence to show that Scottish lobbyists are acting with anything other than integrity. David Cameron’s concern centred on commercial lobbyists, and Scotland has not developed a commercial lobbying culture to the same extent as England and Wales. The Scottish Parliament is different from Westminster and in some ways is already more transparent, particularly in the way that our committees work. In a smaller jurisdiction it is also perhaps easier for the public and press to keep track of what is going on.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12521.2 Jackie Baillie: Protecting Public Services and Boosting Scotland’s Economy—As an amendme
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12521.1 Gavin Brown: Protecting Public Services and Boosting Scotland’s Economy—As an amendment
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12521.3 Willie Rennie: Protecting Public Services and Boosting Scotland’s Economy—As an amendmen
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12521 John Swinney: Protecting Public Services and Boosting Scotland’s Economy—That the Parliame
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-12495 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-12491.2 John Swinney: Privacy and the State—As an amendment to motion S4M-12491 in the name of W
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NoCarried

S4M-12491.1 Richard Simpson: Privacy and the State—As an amendment to motion S4M-12491 in the name o
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YesDefeated

S4M-12491 Willie Rennie: Privacy and the State—That the Parliament notes the Scottish Government’s c
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-12492.2 Jamie Hepburn: Mental Health—As an amendment to motion S4M-12492 in the name of Jim Hume
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YesCarried

S4M-12492 Jim Hume: Mental Health—That the Parliament notes that one in four people will experience
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YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by John Lamont
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12300: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12299: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12115: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11979: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 05/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11379: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11316: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
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 >>
Search for other Questions asked by John Lamont
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24727: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24560: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24534: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24533: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24443: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24442: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04028: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24368: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24367: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24369: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/02/2015 Show Full Question >>

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