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

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Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
The Minister for Transport and Veterans (Keith Brown)

The Scottish Government has invested more than £20 million to construct two hybrid ferries, the MV Hallaig and the MV Lochinvar. Mr Stevenson was involved in the project from its early days and cut the first steel for the MV Hallaig in January 2012.

On 29 September, the Deputy First Minister announced that a third hybrid ferry would be ordered from Ferguson Marine Engineering. Those low-emission hybrid ferries, built in Scotland, are helping to contribute to the Scottish Government’s targets on cutting climate change emissions, with initial operational experience indicating around a 28 per cent fuel saving and an associated reduction in carbon emissions.



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Keith Brown

The Scottish Government invests more than £1 billion a year in public and sustainable transport to encourage people on to public transport and active travel modes. As I announced yesterday in relation to the new ScotRail franchise, Abellio has committed to a range of carbon-saving initiatives that includes at least 3,500 additional cycle parking spaces, a sustainability innovation fund of £100,000 a year and the installation of electric car charging points in at least 50 station car parks. In addition, Stewart Stevenson will of course be aware that, since 2010, we have invested more than £10 million to support the purchase of 126 green buses.



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Keith Brown

Duncan McNeil raises an important point about the need to exploit this innovative technology as much as possible. The first way in which we can do that is by placing the orders that we have done. We can also do it by operating the vessels ourselves and securing the reductions in fuel consumption and the increases in environmental benefits.

Obviously, there is work to be done in addition to what has already been done to ensure that the market that is out there in the wider world is aware of the potential of the vessels. That would open up opportunities for Ferguson’s and others to produce more of the vessels in future.



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Keith Brown

I am afraid that I cannot confirm that the specification will be for a hybrid ferry, because we are considering the potential for liquefied natural gas. However, I can confirm that the contract will be placed next spring and that building it will be well within the capability and capacity of Ferguson’s in Port Glasgow.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The Minister for Transport and Veterans (Keith Brown)

I am grateful to the Parliament for the opportunity to make a statement on the future of the ScotRail franchise.

This morning, I advised the Parliament that the procurement process for the ScotRail franchise had been completed on time and to plan. The Scottish Government believes that good public transport improves the lives of the people and the economy of Scotland. Following extensive consultation, Scotland’s railway has attracted a world-leading contract to deliver for rail staff and passengers.

The competition has been evaluated rigorously on the basis of the most advantageous balance of quality and price for passengers, staff and taxpayers, and the Scottish Government intends to award the contract to Abellio ScotRail Ltd.

The new franchise contract confirms the Scottish Government’s commitment to transform Scotland’s rail service. The new Abellio Group United Kingdom headquarters will add 50 new jobs to the 150 Abellio ScotRail HQ jobs secured in Glasgow. The franchise will commence on 1 April 2015 and will deliver investment in the service—investment for the benefit of passengers, staff and the taxpayer—for the next 10 years. The improvements that the contract secures will be felt right across the network for the benefit of all of Scotland.

Before I go into detail, I wish to remind members of the context of railway franchising. As members will recall from my statement earlier this year on the award of the Caledonian sleeper franchise, franchising is a requirement under the Railways Act 1993, and it precludes any UK public sector organisation bidding to operate a railway service. As I have stated publicly on many occasions, that is an unfair restriction that ought to be changed so that private and public sector bidders can compete equally. I have written to three Secretaries of State for Transport to request a change in law and each request has been refused.

Over 13 years, the Labour Administration chose not to widen access to rail franchising to UK public sector organisations, despite having ample opportunity to do so—the Transport Act 2000 and the Railways Act 2005 are silent on the issue. In fact, the Labour Administration supported franchising and its restrictions. In 2009, the then Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis, reassured the House of Commons Transport Committee that

“The evidence so far is that the franchising system has continued to prove its worth.”

I am left to deduce from its legislative silence and its vocal support for franchising that the Labour Administration was clearly happy to leave us operating these patently unfair procedures.

This week, we have started laying the tracks of the Borders railway, but the tracks of the franchising process were laid by Tory and Labour Governments at Westminster.

Earlier this week, I was asked to cancel the franchising process. Doing so might have left us liable for bid costs in excess of £30 million from our five bidders. Members should remember that it cost the Department for Transport more than £50 million for the failure of the west coast franchise, about which Ed Miliband said:

“It is a disgrace that it is going to cost £40m and perhaps more of taxpayers’ money because they have bungled this franchise.”

Nobody in the chamber can guarantee what new powers we will get and on what date, but we know that a delay in the process would be for a number of years. It would be costly and a bad deal for the travelling public, and I am not willing to put at risk the expectations of our passengers or the interests of the taxpayer by playing fast and loose with rail franchising.

Despite having to adhere to unfair franchising rules, we have always stated that we would do so competently. Accordingly, we set out a prudent programme for our franchise procurements, with a process managed by an expert team within Transport Scotland. We delivered the Caledonian sleeper franchise on schedule and, today, applying the same competent, prudent approach that has become the hallmark of this Government, we have delivered yet another successful outcome.

Following a pre-qualification process, we attracted five high-quality bids. The bidders, each of which has international interests, demonstrate the global appeal of Scotland. Their participation demonstrates the confidence that they have in Scotland as a place to conduct business. As members know, ministers play no part in the evaluation of bids or in the selection of the winning bidder—those matters are governed by the process that is administered by Transport Scotland officials—but I am advised that each of the bids was of high quality and, after a rigorous evaluation exercise, Abellio came out on top.

At this point, I would like to thank Arriva, FirstGroup, MTR and National Express for their participation and confidence in the Scottish Government’s vision for ScotRail. I also thank those many stakeholders who informed each of the bids. Particular thanks go to FirstGroup and its hard-working staff for their management of the service since 2004. Since that time, patronage has grown by a third, more than 200 additional daily train services have been provided, performance has improved from 87 per cent to nearly 92 per cent, and passenger satisfaction has risen to 90 per cent. Taken together, those are commendable achievements.

Our franchise specification puts passengers’ interests at the heart of the ScotRail service. It includes ambitious service standards and an emphasis on quality and effective operation. The new franchise will transform the passenger experience through improved provision of information, enhanced websites, a price promise to provide the best-value ticket and a Scotland-wide extension of smart and integrated ticketing, which will make travel simpler and smarter.

In addition to its price promise, the new franchisee will implement our commitment to bear down on fares to make rail a much more attractive travel choice. As of January next year, peak fares will be capped at the retail prices index and off-peak fares will not be able to increase at a rate greater than RPI minus 1 per cent. Jobseekers and the newly employed will also benefit from reduced fare schemes. In short, there will be fairer affordable fares for all.

A mobile ticketing application will enable passengers to buy tickets, search for travel information, book cycle hire and taxis from selected stations and obtain details on less busy services. Enabling choice and making journeys easy are key to getting our country on the move. Across the network, there will be more car parking spaces, more electric-car charging bays, more cycle spaces and at selected stations even a bike-and-go cycle hire scheme to enable end-to-end journeys.

Our station environments will be updated with more platform shelters, more refreshment kiosks and major enhancements at Aberdeen, Perth, Stirling, Motherwell and Inverness. All of that will build on the substantial investment that has already been made in Waverley and Haymarket and the improvements that are planned for Glasgow Queen Street and Dundee.

We all recognise the need for greater transport integration to join up journeys. At selected stations, cross-modal information screens will display arrivals and departures of other modes such as bus, ferry and air, and a key aspect of all that will be forging links with other providers to unlock journey opportunities across Scotland.

The franchise will deliver improvements on our trains to increase the attraction of rail travel. With high-speed trains, better journey times and more comfort, our seven cities will be linked by proper intercity rolling stock more in keeping with the intercity experience that we know passengers prefer. New electric trains will be delivered for the Edinburgh to Glasgow and the Stirling, Alloa and Dunblane services, and overall there will be a 23 per cent increase in carriages across the network to ensure that full advantage is taken of this Government’s substantial investment in infrastructure.

We asked for proposals to capitalise on the tourism potential of our railways, and the new franchisee came forward with the great scenic railway of Scotland proposition, which will cover the west Highland and Kyle lines, the far north line, the lines serving Stranraer and Dumfries and—from September 2015—the Borders. It will enable our railway to market Scotland’s scenery, its heritage and its tourist attractions to a wider audience. Trains on those routes will be refurbished, and there will be dedicated tourism ambassadors who will be trained to VisitScotland standards and will provide information on attractions, history and journey connections. I hope that community rail groups and local businesses will engage with the franchisee to grasp the very real opportunities arising from this marvellous, expansive initiative.

I have been careful to ensure that the interests of ScotRail staff are addressed in the new franchise contract. Accordingly, we have worked with the rail unions to ensure that staffing issues are appropriately covered, and I am grateful for the unions’ assistance in that respect. Of course, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 will apply. Moreover, pensions will be protected. We might be obliged by Westminster to franchise, but that does not mean that we should not get the best deal for staff anywhere, which is what I believe we have.

The contract contains commitments on 100 apprenticeships, training and staff development and, for the first time, trade union representation on the board of the company. The contract also sets out the franchisee’s extensive corporate social obligations to the community it serves. That is important, because a railway does more than provide a journey opportunity—it spreads and generates economic vitality and prosperity across communities.

That is why this contract is a good one. It does more than simply provide rail services; it seeks to help get Scotland on the move, economically and socially. We have struck a deal with the franchisee to ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies over the entire life of the contract. Over and above that, we have struck a deal to ensure that every person, whether they be directly employed or employed through a subcontractor, will have at least the living wage as a salary.

We are committed to delivering a safe, well-founded, properly resourced service as well as an audit process that ensures that the franchise process that we have just gone through stands up to scrutiny. It has been our intention to ensure that we get the best possible deal for fare payers and passengers, and I believe that we have done so, despite being obliged to go down the franchise route. This contract offers a better Scotland by providing improved services to rail passengers, whether they be residents or visitors, providing security for our railway staff and enabling economic opportunities for all in our cities, towns and rural communities.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Keith Brown

The statement that we have just heard shows why the Labour Party, far from being taken seriously as a potential Government, is not even taken seriously as a potential Opposition any more.

I struggle to understand exactly what the Labour Party’s position is. George Foulkes says explicitly that we have the powers to nationalise the railways in Scotland, which is patently false. For 13 years, the Labour Party had the ability to change things, but it refused to do so. We have also heard the endorsement of the franchising process from prominent Labour politicians.

Perhaps the idea is that some things change. It is interesting that, as recently as a few months ago, the Labour Party’s own publication entitled, “Powers for a purpose—Strengthening Accountability and Empowering People” said:

“The Co-op Party report argues for a new approach”,

which Labour supports,

“in the longer term (i.e. after the end of the new franchise starting in 2015)”.

The Labour Party is all over the place on franchising. The reason why we are hearing such thunderous accusations is that it is embarrassed by the fact that we have ended up where we are.

The Labour Party asks why the franchise went to a publicly owned Dutch railway company. That is a natural consequence of legislation that allows public sector bids from other countries, but which refuses them from Scotland or the UK. It is the Labour Party’s legislation; the Labour Party laid the tracks for how we have to do the franchising, although I very much hope that that will change. We will continue to argue for the change.

Mark Griffin said that I have said one thing and done another. I have written to the Secretary of State for Scotland three times arguing for that change. I would like to have had Labour support in that, but we have not had it.

If Labour had wanted to change the process, it had the chance to do so. I do not dispute where the trade unions are coming from in relation to the matter; they have always held that position. They have never had the ability to change things. The Labour Party has, but it refused to do so. It should take responsibility for the consequences.

We have run a proper process and we have got a good deal for the people of Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Keith Brown

I agree with Alex Johnstone’s comments about FirstGroup. It has done an excellent job and we have seen real growth in terms of patronage.

I do not share Alex Johnstone’s enthusiasm for franchising, as he well knows. It is an expensive process to go through and it is expensive for the companies involved. It presents an unequal playing field, as it does not allow public sector bids. I have argued that for some time.

Alex Johnstone asked about the situation with the five-year break clause in the contract. The break clause can be activated by either side—the Government or the company—and can be activated for any reason. However, there is no way that I intend to use “inappropriate reasons”, as he called them, to exercise use of the break clause, nor do I intend to “exploit” the break clause. The break clause has been put in because circumstances can change, and we have to be wary of that fact. All the tenderers for the contract knew that.

Alex Johnstone also asked whether I support, and will continue to support, the progress and ambitions of the contract. Of course I will. There are huge benefits to the contract, which is the result of very hard work by Transport Scotland officials, and of the Government laying out exactly what its expectations were, including those regarding cyclists and fare payers, who say that they are suffering because of high fares, especially throughout the rest of the UK. We have taken action on that already and we will take further action. I am sure that Alex Johnstone will be very interested in the £5 fare from Aberdeen to Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh or Dundee. The fare must be applied for in advance and there are restrictions to it, but it addresses the fact that some people want the cheapest possible fare.

I hope that despite some of Alex Johnstone’s comments he, like me, will be fully behind the success of the contract, for the benefit of passengers and of the staff who will deliver the services.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Keith Brown

Stewart Stevenson is exactly right. It strikes me that people like Mark Griffin have to try to get over the fact that they were on the winning side in the referendum. Power over these things rests at Westminster. There is no guarantee of powers—I do not know whether Mark Griffin signed the petition to make sure that we get extra powers. If we were to delay or cancel the contract, that would impact on the new trains that we are ordering, on fares, on the benefits of the new services—reduced fares would not apply—and on the enhanced benefits for staff, including there being no compulsory redundancies in the whole term of the contract and the living wage being paid to every member of staff, whether they are subcontracted or directly employed. Those are real advances for the people who serve the customers. There are also real advances for the customers themselves.

People in Scotland will be interested in the Labour Party’s opposition to this material advance for fare-paying passengers and the staff who provide the services.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Keith Brown

I am aware that James Kelly came late to the chamber. I do not know whether he heard my previous responses. He may have missed the fact that Labour’s position is that we should look for a new approach after the end of the franchise that we are about to sign. That is the same as the position that he just outlined.

The Labour Party is all over the place on the matter and it is not being taken seriously because it has changed its position so often. It was the party that was happy to have franchising: Lord Adonis referred to franchising in glowing terms. The Labour Party did not change the situation when it had the chance; it did not change it through the Calman commission and it did not change it through the Scotland Act 2012. It did not even argue for that change.

A few months ago, Labour was arguing for us to let the contract; suddenly its position has changed. That is because the Labour Party is embarrassed by its past failure to act. We have acted to protect fare-paying passengers.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Keith Brown

I am more than happy to give the assurance that there will be thorough community consultation. The project, because it has infrastructure elements, involves various parties, including local authority partners. I will provide in writing the details on cost and the parties that are involved, and I will also underline the reassurance that I have given on community consultation.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
NoDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Keith Brown
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
Motion S4M-08173.2: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07553: Keith Brown, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/08/2013 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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