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 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities (Keith Brown)

Will the member take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities (Keith Brown)

The previous remarks lead us back to the point about why the debate is important. The First Minister said that this is a grave subject, and indeed it is, but I will set out some reasons why the debate is important. First, there is nothing wrong with holding elected representatives to account, as that is part of the democratic process. Democratic responsibility is extremely important, and disdain for it is wrong. We are going to have the third general election since the Iraq war happened. In a democracy, the ability of citizens to have faith in and scrutinise the processes and decisions of the Government is extremely important.

Another reason why the debate is important is that the Chilcot inquiry has become a central element in the public’s ability to know the truth of what happened at the time. It is important that we have a fearless investigation and it should not be hamstrung by a desire to protect very powerful people. There is an old saying in the legal profession that goes, “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” I would say that we should let justice be seen to be done though the heavens, or even the reputations of some individuals, fall.

Labour, which has been talking about the NHS, educational psychologists and various other things—anything but the subject that is in front of us—seems to have forgotten that it is most important to remember the 179 souls from this country who died serving their country during that conflict, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died. They should remain in our minds.

Of course it is perfectly legitimate that we should discuss such an issue. The service personnel and their families are entitled to ask why they were asked to do what they were asked to do. We know that they were not told at the time. In a dossier that could best be described as a weapon of mass deception, the case was made that there were weapons of mass destruction only 45 minutes away from the UK.

The old saw, “Ours is not to reason why; ours is but to do and die,” cannot be the limit of the service personnel’s human rights. They have explicitly forsworn their democratic right to object to, or refuse to do, what they are asked to do and they do as their elected Government asks them to. Even if they think that their political masters are stupid, venal or naive, they have to do what they are asked to. However, more than anybody else, they surely have a right to know the arguments, processes and reasons—and even the deals that were done before they were sent to put their lives in danger.

As I have thought about the matter over the years, I have tried to imagine how service personnel felt having been told that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, having seen friends die in the pursuit of that conflict and having seen comrades disabled by their injuries. Would it have been more horrifying to them to find the weapons of mass destruction or to find that there were none, having seen the carnage that had preceded?

We have now found out that the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction was a false prospectus. The idea—which was always preposterous—that they were 45 minutes away from being a threat to the UK is increasingly preposterous. Everybody realised that at the time.

Our service personnel are individuals. They are often characterised, as people such as Ian Lang did disgracefully in the referendum debate last year, as being of the same mind, but they are not. They are individuals and have different views on things. However, I think that they would be of one mind in wanting to know why they were given one reason for being asked to put themselves in harm’s way—that is, weapons of mass destruction—and then, after many of them died, given another reason. Regime change was the excuse—the fig leaf—that was used after the war to try to justify some of the actions. I hope that the Chilcot inquiry will remove that fig leaf when it eventually reports.

Who wants those answers and why do we discuss the issues? We have heard the answers from some of the other speeches. Rose Gentle wants the answers. Is that wrong? Should she wait to have another debate on the health service or educational psychologists? Does she not have a right to have her views represented in the Parliament as well? The family of Allan Douglas also wants to have answers, as Kevin Stewart said. There is also the deafening silence of 179 deceased souls. They want to have answers as well and why should they not? Why should they wait for longer than the entire second world war to have them?

We heard from Kenny MacAskill about the alacrity with which the Nuremberg trials were carried out because of the gravity of what had happened and because the need to try to get to the truth of the events very soon after they happened was huge. However, I heard somebody on the Labour benches say in a self-congratulatory tone that Labour called for the inquiry. Aye, but that was six years after the war had taken place and, as Willie Rennie said, after the Labour Party had had a chance to vote for an inquiry three or four times and refused to do so. It took that long. How much information was lost in that time and how many personal testimonies could no longer be found because of the delay?



Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
Keith Brown

First, I deprecate the analogy that Alex Fergusson drew between the hepatitis C investigation and the Chilcot inquiry. The two do not stand comparison.

Of course the inquiry must be conducted in the correct way—everybody understands that. The point is: why has it taken six years for it to happen and why did Chilcot say at the start of 2011 that it would be done in a few months? The important point is that it has been delayed unreasonably. In the House of Commons today, Alex Fergusson’s colleague David Davis pointed the finger expressly at Whitehall. I might be wrong, but I think that Jack Straw said the same thing. They are saying that something is going on to delay the process, other than the Maxwellisation that we have heard about.

It is a scandal. I would have liked Alex Fergusson to have attached a higher priority to the needs of the families of those who died or those who were injured than he did to issues of process. Their needs are far more important, and the UK Government should have shown some urgency in its handling of the matter. It is unfortunate that that is not happening.

I believe that it is very important for the Parliament and the Scottish Government to note the huge sacrifice—it is sometimes the ultimate sacrifice—that members of our armed forces make in preserving our safety and security. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the actions of individuals, there is no doubt that, as the First Minister said, our service personnel and their families deserve our complete support. We betray rather than serve the interests of those people if we try to sweep the issue under the carpet or endlessly avoid debating it, as others have suggested that we should do. As part of the support that we provide, we should provide those service personnel who returned and the families of those who did not with the answers that they deserve, and we must do so without further delay.

For those reasons, I am proud to support the motion in the First Minister’s name.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities (Keith Brown)

The Scottish Government’s plans for a devolved air passenger duty will greatly assist the Ayrshire economy and the wider Scottish economy. We are committed to an initial 50 per cent reduction in APD and will move to full abolition when public finances permit. That will help all of Scotland’s airports to compete more fairly and to secure new and existing routes.

Our analysis has suggested that a 50 per cent cut could deliver more than 1 million additional passengers annually. It will enable Glasgow Prestwick airport to approach airlines more confidently in the pursuit of new route opportunities. Ryanair has indicated that, if APD was abolished, it would double its passenger numbers in Scotland, which would provide significant benefits to passengers, businesses and our tourism sector as well as to the airports involved.

We have urged the United Kingdom Government to act on the Smith commission recommendation and devolve APD now. That view is shared by Scotland’s main airports, which have written to each of the Westminster party leaders to urge quick progress.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Keith Brown

It is incumbent on us to act as quickly as possible when we have the power, but the first thing that has to happen, as Willie Coffey knows, is that the power has to be devolved. We continue to press the UK Government to devolve APD as a matter of urgency.

A number of studies in recent years have shown the negative economic impacts of APD as applied by the UK Government, and Scotland’s airports frequently tell us that APD represents a barrier to route development efforts. We have seen from the sale of slots and the withdrawal from routes the impact that APD is having on airlines. The chancellor’s recent decisions to remove the two highest APD bands from April and to abolish APD for children under 12 from May have attracted good UK media coverage, but the economic impact on Scotland is expected to be limited.

The devolution of power seems to be slow. It was first agreed in 2009, but it has followed the same kind of process as the Chilcot report—both processes started in 2009, but neither has really produced anything yet. It is not so much a breakneck pace as a brass-neck lack of action on the UK Government’s part.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Keith Brown

I have answered that question previously. I cited the example of Ryanair, which has said that it expects a higher increase at Edinburgh airport—I think that the passenger numbers involved are about 1.5 million. Ryanair has forecast a million new passengers for Prestwick, if APD were completely abolished, and doubling the current numbers has also been mentioned.

In contrast to the comments made by Mr Johnstone’s colleague Gavin Brown, who questioned the benefit to flights going from Scottish airports of any reduction in APD, the fact is that, if we make it easier for people to reach their holiday destinations from Scottish airports, we will improve the economic performance of those airports as well as the situation of all the jobs that support the airports’ operation. The York Aviation study gives us that evidence, as does Ryanair. We are confident that, if we can get on and do it, and if the UK Government ever gets round to devolving APD, we could see huge benefits for Prestwick and all of Scotland’s airports.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities (Keith Brown)

I had the chance to visit North Lanarkshire in my previous position as Minister for Transport and Veterans to witness the progress on the rail network in the area as part of the Edinburgh to Glasgow improvement programme. However, I have not yet had the opportunity to meet North Lanarkshire Council in my new role.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Keith Brown

I am more than happy to meet John Pentland to discuss the issues that he raises. Some of them are impacted by the Glasgow and Clyde valley city deal that has been struck, of which North Lanarkshire Council is, of course, a key part. As the member will be aware, the council has prioritised a number of projects as part of the city deal. I have not yet seen an approach involving the growth accelerator model, but I am more than happy to discuss that with the member and others whom he wants to bring to the meeting when it takes place.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Keith Brown

Perhaps Neil Findlay’s colleagues should not have voted for the Tory austerity programme at Westminster, because that is the source of the cuts.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Keith Brown

Perhaps Neil Findlay could also take up the issue with his colleague Liam Byrne, who was the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and who left a note with the last word of the previous Labour Government saying, “There is no money.”

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12182.1 Alex Fergusson: The Chilcot Inquiry—As an amendment to motion S4M-12182 in the name of N
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12182 Nicola Sturgeon: The Chilcot Inquiry—That the Parliament calls for Sir John Chilcot’s offi
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12176 John Swinney: Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the gene
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12160 Kezia Dugdale: Women Offenders—That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish G
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

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