Lewis Macdonald MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 06 November 2014 : Thursday, November 06, 2014
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Lab)

NHS Grampian has lost its entire local leadership—executive and non-executive—in recent weeks. Does the First Minister recognise the damage that that has done to staff morale and public confidence in what has historically been an exemplary local health service? In that context, will he undertake to ensure that the next chair of Grampian NHS Board lives and works in Grampian?



Meeting of the Parliament 04 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Lab)

I, too, congratulate Stewart Stevenson on securing this important debate. Children’s road safety matters to us all, and road safety in general has particular resonance in north-east Scotland.

Ron Beaty is an outstanding example of an active citizen. He was affected by a tragic accident to a child on our roads and has worked tirelessly to reduce the risk to other children of suffering in the way that his granddaughter has. In that he is not alone, as we have heard. He has put a particular focus on safety around school buses and highlighted the responsibilities of government at every level.

As we have heard, the matter is not for this Parliament alone or uniquely for Scottish ministers; there are responsibilities at both United Kingdom and local government levels. I understand that Mr Beaty has raised petitions with this Parliament and the United Kingdom Department for Transport, and he has lobbied his local council as well as MPs and MSPs in the north-east region.

Mr Beaty has put a particular focus on this place and those who are accountable to it. I read his comments in The Press and Journal this morning, in which he said that Transport Scotland should

“stop arguing and making excuses”

for not doing more and called on the Scottish Government to use the powers that it has to take the issue forward.

Members have been right to emphasise that this is not just an issue for the north-east, but there is no doubt that our region has a particular issue of danger on its roads. Aberdeenshire has the highest rate of fatal and serious accidents in Scotland, according to Transport Scotland figures for last year, which were published just last month, with more fatal accidents to people of all ages than any other council area. The number of accidents involving children on roads across the north-east is also high, and the need for action is clear.

Local councils are taking the issue seriously. As we heard, just yesterday Aberdeenshire community safety partnership hosted the 10th annual safe drive stay alive event at the Beach ballroom in Aberdeen, supported by the police, fire and ambulance services, NHS Grampian and all three councils in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray. As has been described, pupils and guests alike were gripped by the testimony of survivors of accidents and relatives of people affected by their impact. It seems that the consequences of unsafe behaviour on our roads came across loud and clear to all concerned.

The roadshows are aimed at making young people not only safer and better pedestrians but safer and better drivers when they get behind the wheel. In the 10 years that the safe drive stay alive campaign has been running for, the number of fatal accidents in the north-east involving young drivers has fallen significantly, although there is clearly a good deal more to do.

As we have heard, we need an equal emphasis on making the school bus run safer for all concerned. Transport Scotland’s guidance on improving bus safety is certainly helpful, but the question is whether more can be done to ensure that its recommendations are implemented in full, across the board.

I hope that the minister can tell us what more he can do in partnership and with the powers that he has, and how he hopes to increase the buy-in of partners across Scotland. Families should not have to worry about whether their child is going to come home safely from school. That is the point of today’s debate, and Mr Beaty’s impatience for further progress deserves a positive response to make his long journey worth while.

17:49  

Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Lab)

Does the First Minister agree with Dr Roelf Dijkhuizen, the outgoing medical director of NHS Grampian, who said this week that consultants in emergency medicine want to practise their skills in trauma and resuscitation, not spend their time dealing with minor illnesses and injuries? Does he accept the point that Dr Dijkhuizen was making that the recruitment crisis in A and E will not be resolved until primary care and general practitioner services are adequately resourced in Grampian and everywhere else?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Lewis Macdonald

I am grateful to Mr Stevenson for making that point; he is absolutely right. Earlier we heard criticism of enforcement in the fish processing industry and the same applies. Effective enforcement of the right regulations is good for the industry as well as for the consumer. Mr Stevenson is right to make that point.

The timetable for the establishment of the FSA meant that it was set up in Scotland as one of the first actions of the new devolved Government in 1999. The intention to locate FSA Scotland in Aberdeen was announced by the Scottish Executive in October 1999. The present headquarters at St Magnus house were opened in April 2000.

Professor James and Professor Pennington were only the best known of a substantial scientific research community in Aberdeen, which is what made the city the obvious choice of location for the agency, and which continues to support the work of the FSA in Scotland to this day.

It is striking to see how the institutional landscape of that research community has changed in the period of devolution, but it is even more striking to see how the scientific excellence that supports it remains of the highest order. For example, the Rowett institute is now part of the University of Aberdeen, but it continues to be a world leader in the science of nutrition and health. That was important in 1999 and it is even more important today, given that the bill proposes to strengthen the remit of Food Standards Scotland in relation to dietary health. The Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen is now part of Marine Scotland. It, too, continues to provide best-in-class expertise in a range of areas, such as safe consumption of shellfish. The former Macaulay Land Use Research Institute is now part of the James Hutton Institute, and the former Scottish Agricultural College is now part of Scotland’s Rural College. Again, both those bodies remain important partners for the FSA today, and for FSS in future.

That critical mass of scientific expertise is not gathered in and around Aberdeen by accident. As we have heard, the north-east has an exceptional concentration of primary food producers and food processing industries. That is ultimately what sustains Aberdeen as a centre of knowledge and of regulation.

Geography has also helped FSA Scotland to make a success of its Aberdeen base beyond the immediate city region. Ease of access to ministers and other stakeholders in Edinburgh and London has been important and will continue to be so. Whatever the institutional framework of the policy frameworks of the respective Governments, close partnerships and Scottish access to research excellence and food advisory bodies across the UK will continue to be vital to the effectiveness of FSS.

Another benefit that has been alluded to in part is the fact that food standards practitioners from other parts of Britain have come to Aberdeen and to Scotland to learn from the work that is done here. Not only is that good for those other regulators, as Bob Doris said, but it is also a source of informal influence beyond Scotland, which is very much in Scotland’s interest. I hope that it is something that ministers will also seek to maintain as the memorandum of understanding is put in place.

Quick and frequent transport links between Aberdeen and the northern isles have also been important to the success of the agency. FSA Scotland has had high levels of engagement with food producers and processors in Shetland and Orkney, to the benefit of the agency and those island communities. As a central Government body that is located outwith the central belt, FSA Scotland has had, from the beginning, an outward-looking approach to engaging stakeholders across the Highlands and Islands and throughout Scotland. There is no culture of staying warm in an office close to the centres of power instead of getting out and engaging with the real world. FSA staff have always seen the whole of Scotland as their home patch, and I am confident that that culture will continue in a new agency based in Aberdeen.

Many of the strengths that FSS will inherit from FSA Scotland can be built on in the period ahead. For instance, the Rowett institute provides the scientific basis for the food and health innovation service, with funding from Scottish Enterprise. That brings together partners from across the UK. For example, Marks and Spencer’s “fuller longer” range of foods, which is available in stores throughout the UK, was developed with the active support of and advice from the Rowett institute. That is just one example of the excellent work that is done by the FSA’s partners in Aberdeen and which will continue to be available to the new FSS.

FSS will also want to maintain its strong partnerships with the local authorities in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, as well as with the food sector. I commend local councils for enforcing food safety regulations in the interests of consumers, and I support what Claire Baker and Nanette Milne had to say about the importance of properly resourcing that regulatory activity at all levels.

I hope that the minister will today reaffirm the Government’s commitment to meeting that resourcing challenge, its support for continuing partnerships in Scotland and beyond Scotland and its commitment to continue to deliver Scotland’s food standards from a new headquarters in Aberdeen. With those commitments, I believe that the bill will go forward with support from across the chamber.



Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Lab)

I have a number of perspectives on the debate: I was co-convener of the cross-party group on food in the last parliamentary session, I was minister with responsibility for the Food Standards Agency in Scotland in the session before that, and I campaigned successfully for FSA Scotland to be based in Aberdeen back in 1999. From all those perspectives I think that the existing agency has been a success. It has been engaged with Parliament and other partners, it has been responsive to Government and public policy, and it has been an exemplar that makes the case for locating central Government agencies in cities and regions of Scotland outwith the central belt.

The Food Standards Agency was set up by the incoming Labour Government of 1997 at much the same time as it legislated for the Scottish Parliament. It is no coincidence that the inspiration to set up the FSA came from two leading academic experts in Aberdeen, the microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington, who gave evidence to the committee’s inquiry this time round, and Professor Philip James, the then director of the Rowett Research Institute. Hugh Pennington led the inquiry into the E coli outbreak in Wishaw in 1996, and his report recommended the creation of a new food standards agency. Philip James had a report on how to do that on ministers’ desks within days of the 1997 election, and that report was then implemented to establish the FSA in the following couple of years.



Meeting of the Parliament 01 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Lab)

Will the minister confirm that the planned development of Aberdeen harbour will further support the growth of offshore renewable energy in the North sea? Does the Scottish Government agree that the offshore wind demonstrator project in Aberdeen bay is of importance, not just locally and nationally, but to the European renewables sector as a whole?



Meeting of the Parliament 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Lewis Macdonald (North East Scotland) (Lab)

Certainly, Presiding Officer. For the avoidance of doubt, will the minister confirm his position on the UK Government’s provision of assistance of all types to the Kurdish population of northern Iraq?



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Lewis Macdonald

Does the cabinet secretary accept that the election next year of a United Kingdom Government that would legislate for 16 and 17-year-olds to have the vote would bring that benefit not only to Scotland but to the rest of the UK as well?



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Lewis Macdonald

It is equally wrong to claim that pensioners voted for the union only because they were misled, or that they failed to take into account the interests of future generations. Denunciations of older voters should have no place in the discourse of a modern democratic society. The wisdom and experience of elders is highly valued in many cultures around the world, in part because older people think more than most about what the world will be like after they have gone. It was precisely because of what they judged to be in the best interests of their children and grandchildren that so many older people voted for Scotland to stay in the British union. Future generations will be grateful for their maturity and judgment in doing so.

The truth is that all those who had a vote had a choice before them: independence or a self-governing Scotland within the UK. More than 55 per cent of those who voted chose devolution, not independence. That majority included majorities in most age groups and most local council areas, but Scotland was for this purpose one constituency, and the will of the Scottish people as a whole has been made clear.

The commitments that have been given by the Labour Party and other parties over recent weeks and months will lay the basis for future devolution, which will be delivered following next year’s election.

Alex Salmond said last week that he accepts the verdict of the people, and called on everyone else who had campaigned for Scottish independence to do the same. I am glad that Nicola Sturgeon this morning made a commitment to work with others on developing proposals for further devolution.

I know how tough it can be to lose at the end of a hard-fought campaign; it is easy for a person to believe that they are entitled to win because they think that they have made their case. It is easier still to go into denial or to look for someone to blame when one falls at the final hurdle. However, we all need to accept and move on from last week’s clear decision and work together across parties to secure the changes in our country that will make it an even better place.

14:54  

Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Lewis Macdonald

Kevin Stewart would have done himself a favour by accepting the proposition that I put to him: voters, of whatever ethnic group or national origin, made a decision on the basis of the information that was in front of them, and did so with an intelligent understanding of the issues that were at stake.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
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NoCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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YesDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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NoDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
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NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Lewis Macdonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11525: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11505: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11500: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11492: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11233: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 16/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11096: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10667: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10396: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10346: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10218: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Lewis Macdonald
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23352: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23351: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23354: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23355: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23356: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23353: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23350: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23349: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23149: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 13/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23148: Lewis Macdonald, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 13/11/2014 Show Full Question >>

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