Keith Brown MSP

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Keith Brown MSP

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  • Member for: Clackmannanshire and Dunblane
  • Region: Mid Scotland and Fife
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Keith is a member of the following Committees:

Keith is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Keith Brown

Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

I made it very clear, as we have made it very clear in the past, that we have undertaken a study on that. If he thinks that it makes sense to have a high-speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow without knowing whether we are to have a high-speed rail link coming from the south, he basically does not understand transport projects. He should think about it for a short time.

I will come back to two points that Willie Rennie made. First, he was utterly disingenuous when he implied that classification or reclassification of NPD projects was a problem or failure on the part of the Scottish Government. [Interruption.] He is nodding now. Surely he must know that the finance secretary has discussions with his counterparts in Westminster, who have the same challenge in terms of classification. The finance secretary works very closely with them to ensure that we have budget cover for the projects that we intend to take forward. Despite that, Willie Rennie tries to portray it as a problem or failure on the part of the Scottish Government, which is ingenuous.

Mr Rennie’s other point was about the First Minister’s statement regarding £180 billion of borrowing. He challenged me to provide the figures, which I gave to him, but he still complained. The vital point, which Linda Fabiani made, is that there is an ideological difference. We are committed to an alternative to austerity, whereas the Liberal Democrats are committed to austerity and have been for the past five years. They have failed to get the budget deficit down as they said they would do: instead of a £5 billion surplus, they have a £50 billion deficit. The Liberal Democrats have failed to do the things that they said they would do.

It is not like Franklin D Roosevelt with his new deal—with the coalition we get a bum deal. We have had nothing from it but austerity, and we propose a different course of action.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

I thought that Gavin Brown wanted to intervene there and restate the commitment. If Willie Rennie will, for the first time, ask Susan Kramer and others to support high-speed rail coming to Scotland, I will be delighted to let him intervene.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

As Dave Stewart said, the debate has generally been quite good. Unsurprisingly, I suppose, members have wanted to highlight issues and projects that are particularly important to them, which is natural enough. The parties also have different priorities, although I cannot recall off the top of my head any proposal coming from another party that has changed a budget for an infrastructure project, apart from back in 2007, when the other parties all voted for the trams project against the Scottish Government. Aside from that, by implication, the parties must share many of the priorities on infrastructure projects that we have persisted with.

I will pick up on two points that Dave Stewart made latterly. First, on rail, Nigel Don and Stewart Stevenson made a plea for more rail expenditure vis-à-vis road expenditure. It might surprise them to know that, in some periods over the past few years, rail expenditure has exceeded the expenditure on roads. It is worth bearing that in mind. There has been a £5 billion programme over the current control period, which is a huge amount of money, although I recognise that given the nature of the rail network throughout Scotland and the lack of investment right through the time of British Rail—which had to have an 8 per cent rate of return—there is a big project to undertake. We have made substantial progress through the Airdrie to Bathgate line, the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line, the Borders railway and many other projects. I of course accept that we want to do more on that, but we have to be guided by resources.

I am grateful that Johann Lamont mentioned the M74 project, which I do not think that I mentioned. She is right to say that that has produced tremendous benefits in the west of Scotland, particularly by freeing up roads from congestion and providing ease of access, not least to Glasgow airport. Many people have told me that access to the airport has been transformed by the completion of the road.

Johann Lamont also made a number of points about the new hospital in Glasgow. In fact, when I went for my reprehensible comfort break, that was one of the issues that I ended up talking about with Johann Lamont at some length. She makes a fair point, which she has already raised with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport. When I spoke with her subsequently, I committed to raise the issue again with the health secretary. I do not know whether she is aware that a meeting is taking place on 2 March, which will involve the health and transport elements of the Scottish Government, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow City Council and SPT. That is the kind of corporate or joint approach that I think Johann Lamont is asking for, and I undertake to ensure that she is kept up to date on the outcome of that meeting.

As far as I recall, Jim Eadie was the only member who mentioned at length cycling and walking. He rightly mentioned the record expenditure that is being put into that. He mentioned two particular projects: the £3.6 million exemplar project on Leith Walk and the project at Strathyre, which will help to complete that part of the national cycle network. Those are important projects, not just for cycling but, crucially, for walking. That is important, as walking can be as beneficial for health as if not even more beneficial than cycling. We are delighted to have put in that kind of money this year, which builds on efforts in previous years.

I come on to the second point that Dave Stewart made, which is an important one, because there is genuine confusion on the Labour benches in relation to this matter. The current legislation has always allowed us to have a not-for-profit bid for the railways. That will not change as a result of the Smith commission, as has been suggested will happen in some press releases. However, what is changing with Smith—because we made representations to this effect—is that, if and when the changes go through, we will be able to make a public sector bid. In fact, we could go beyond that and ask whether we can make a direct award, although that is not currently provided for in the Smith recommendations.

We proposed that approach, and we would have liked to have seen a not-for-profit bid. However, to be honest, on the idea that has been mentioned by some Labour members that that equates to renationalisation of the railways, I must say that cannot happen if we are committed to franchising. We cannot have the two things: franchising and nationalisation. We certainly cannot guarantee that. There is some confusion about that, so it is as well that we try to clarify things at this stage.

Paul Martin made a point about Robroyston, and he and I have discussed the issue in the past. I have tried to encourage him and others to come forward with a proposal. I should say that none of the moneys in the station investment fund, which equates to £30 million, have yet been disbursed. A large number of projects have come forward, and at least two of them are further advanced than the Robroyston proposals. In fact, not many proposals are that far advanced, because of the issues that Mr Martin mentioned about trying to work up a case. As I have said, there is obviously a good case to be made, but a case has to be brought to the station investment fund. It will be for Derek Mackay to look at that when it comes forward, but we cannot do anything until we get the application.

Mention was made of high-speed rail. Gavin Brown spoke in lurid terms about what he read in The Scotsman regarding what I was going to do to the Opposition parties. I checked the statement that I put out, and it said that I would challenge the other parties. [Interruption.] Well, that is what it said, and I did challenge the other parties.

The Press Association is running with the story that I have successfully got a commitment from each of the three parties to bring high-speed rail to Scotland. Gavin Brown and, I think, Willie Rennie said that that should be no surprise to anybody, but I can tell them that it is. If, like me, they talked to UK ministers or even Opposition spokespeople and tried to get a commitment to bring high-speed rail to Scotland, they would know that there has never been such a commitment.

We must move to the next stage. I am delighted that each of the Opposition parties has said that it is committed to high-speed rail. The point is that those parties have to convince those who take decisions down in Westminster that they should bring high-speed rail to Scotland. There is no proposal from the Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives to bring high-speed rail to Scotland.

I will give members an idea of the significance of high-speed rail. We are talking about a massive benefit to not just Scotland but the whole of the UK, because it is not a one-way thing. Obviously there would be massive benefits both ways if we joined the second most economically active part of the UK—the central belt of Scotland—with England, and there would also be benefits further north from that improved connection. However, despite the fact that the UK Government has been prompted endless times to bring high-speed rail to Scotland, it has made no proposal to do that.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

I think that I said that our assumption is that NPD is a viable method of procurement and that we intend to continue with it. We have to meet the challenge that Eurostat has set out and work with the ONS on that. However, our assumption is that NPD is a viable process and we intend to continue with it.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

I would, Presiding Officer. I was out of the chamber for the last speech only, to go to the toilet. I think that that is acceptable. I have otherwise been here for the entire debate.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

First, I do not think that anybody can anticipate what the interest rate will be, given that the Governor of the Bank of England has been talking about possible negative interest rates. From what the member has just said, does he continue to support austerity, even given the wipe-out that the Lib Dems are about to experience at the election? Is poverty of ambition—the ambition for austerity—the only counsel that the Lib Dems have?



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

I am happy to do so for the benefit of Willie Rennie: £25 billion in 2016-17, £43 billion in 2017-18, £52 billion in 2018-19 and £60 billion in 2019-20—a total of £179 billion. Will Mr Rennie support that?



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

I will help Gavin Brown out, because I know that he is coming to the end of his speech. Does he yet feel able to respond to the question whether his party supports high-speed rail coming to Scotland?



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

Will the member give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Keith Brown

What about the deficit?

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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YesCarried

S4M-12423 Marco Biagi: Commission on Local Tax Reform—That the Parliament supports the establishment
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12385 Liz Smith: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament agrees that a solid grou
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12395.1 Fergus Ewing: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in the
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12395.2 Patrick Harvie: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in t
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12395 Murdo Fraser: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—That the Parliament notes with concern the l
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12385.3 Alasdair Allan: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to motion S4M-12385 i
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

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

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Keith Brown
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12382: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12034: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10724: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10427: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10185: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10171: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09447: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08747: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08348.3: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08270: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/11/2013 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 S3O-05525: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/01/2009 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-19006: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-19091: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-18005: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3O-04813: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/11/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-17553: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-17539: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-16864: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-16691: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-16623: Keith Brown, Ochil, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/09/2008 Show Full Question >>

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