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 (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 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 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 (North East Scotland) (Lab)

Last week’s referendum was the biggest exercise of popular sovereignty in Scotland’s history. As John Swinney has just said, record numbers of people registered to vote and record numbers took part.

I met some inspiring voters who were born a century or more ago, when only adult male householders over the age of 21 had the right to vote. They were determined that their voices be heard. Many other voters, such as my younger daughter lona, were born in the past 17 years, after we agreed in our previous referendum that there should be a Scottish Parliament. Every vote in last week’s referendum was of equal value and, in response to the question whether Scotland should be an independent country, a clear majority voted no.

Scotland and England have shared a common head of state and head of Government for over 400 years, and we have shared a common Parliament for more than 300 years. Last week, for the first time, the whole of the people of Scotland were invited to vote on whether to sustain that union and we, the people of Scotland, have determined for ourselves that our country should continue as part of one United Kingdom.

The 2 million people who voted no were not, as has been suggested, merely the largest minority in an electorate divided among no voters, yes voters and non-voters; they were, rather, a clear majority of those who chose to take part. Alex Salmond yesterday described the Scottish assembly referendum of 1979 as “a botched job” because non-voters were counted as if they were against the majority view, with the result that

“the side that gained the most votes was unable to have its wishes put into effect.”—[Official Report, 23 September 2014; c 3.]

Those who lost last week’s vote should not make the same mistake that was made in 1979. They should accept the result as the sovereign will of the people of Scotland, expressed by a clear majority of those who chose to exercise their sovereign rights.

The idea of popular sovereignty has deep roots in Scottish history. The community of the realm of the 1300s or the 1600s was a much smaller and more limited elite than the mass electorate of today, or even that of 1914. The point about popular sovereignty is that it is the final word. Those who support the sovereignty of the people must not then pick apart the results to find a narrative that suits them better.

Two million people voted for Scotland to stay in the union. They did so because that, in their judgment, was the best direction for Scotland to take. They were not “gulled” or “tricked” into making that judgment; nor did they do so only in response to the issues that got most attention in the short campaign. Polish voters in Aberdeen, for example, voted for Scotland to remain in the UK for much the same reasons as most other Aberdonians voted no.



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

I will give way in a moment.

They, too, value the benefits of Scotland’s membership of the wider British union. Yesterday’s claim that Poles voted no through fear is an insult to their intelligence and a slur on the integrity of those who argued that our nations are better together.



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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