John Lamont MSP

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John Lamont MSP

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Parliamentary Activities

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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.



Meeting of the Parliament 05 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 05, 2014
John Lamont

The cabinet secretary will be aware that, last week, Registers of Scotland published data that show that the average price of a detached house in the Scottish Borders is more than £250,000, meaning that many properties in the Borders will be caught by the Government’s new 10 per cent tax rate. What analysis has been carried out of whether the housing market will be skewed before and after the new tax is introduced, as sellers desperately try to avoid this extra 10 per cent tax rate, and is the cabinet secretary concerned that that will result in lower tax receipts in the long-term?



Meeting of the Parliament 05 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 05, 2014
14. John Lamont (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

To ask the Scottish Government what analysis it has carried out of the impact of the recently announced land and buildings transaction tax on domestic and non-domestic property sales in the Scottish Borders. (S4O-03644)



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 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 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.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
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NoCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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NoCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
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YesDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
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NoCarried

S4M-11763 Mary Fee: Private Sector Rent Reform—That the Parliament notes that, over the last 10 year
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11766.3 Shona Robison: The State of the NHS—As an amendment to motion S4M-11766 in the name of N
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AbstainCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by John Lamont
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
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 >>
Search for other Questions asked by John Lamont
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23668: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23669: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00822: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 08/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03644: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22938: John Lamont, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
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 >>

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