Linda Fabiani MSP

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Appointed Member of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

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Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Linda Fabiani

The Westminster MP in my constituency clearly does not understand what he did last week. I had thought that the Labour Party in Scotland would understand the implications of that vote. Is Jackie Baillie aware that it also endorsed George Osborne’s welfare spending cap?

Tackling inequality is a real priority for the Government because, in common with many economists throughout the world, we believe that equality and cohesion are good for growth as well as for individuals. The ability to share that growth is important. That is why the Scottish Government has taken the steps that it has taken in relation to the Council of Economic Advisers and poverty impact assessments of all its policies.

We are doing what we can to mitigate Westminster’s welfare cuts, with more than £100 million having been committed to that in 2015-16. However, preventative spend is the real issue. Kenny Gibson talked about it as convener of the Finance Committee, but in the previous parliamentary session, when Malcolm Chisholm and I were members of that committee, we did studies about the importance of preventative spending, especially in the younger years. It is a long-term issue. We cannot change such matters overnight.

If we can do one thing for Scotland—even if we cannot agree on its constitutional future or the powers that we should have—it is surely to agree that the important thing is to make Scotland a fairer, better and more prosperous country. Businesses are coming on board with that, and trade unions have always believed it and are working well with the Scottish Government towards that end. Surely the Labour Party in particular—with a history in what used to be a movement—can recognise that in the longer term our country does not need political sniping, but needs us to work together and to agree certain principles on which we can all move forward, regardless of other arguments about the constitution or the results of elections. That is what is important.

We talk about the new politics in Scotland. That is what people expect. An awful lot of people who used to value the Labour Party expect it too.

15:42  

Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Linda Fabiani

I have total confidence in the ability of the Scottish Government’s health team to look at the health service in the round, to work with its partners and to come up with the best possible solution. It is not about picking things out of a hat to get a headline on the front of the newspaper.

We have a good baseline from which to start on our pledge to make Scotland a more prosperous country. Scotland’s economy is on track this year to record its strongest performance since 2007, and we are leading the way with the highest employment and economic activity rates and lowest unemployment rate among all the nations in the UK. In addition, business start-ups in Scotland are at a record high.

Some credit must be given to the Deputy First Minister for managing that in spite of what the Institute for Fiscal Studies has described as spending cuts “on a colossal scale”. The OBR has noted that, under the coalition Government’s plans, total public spending would fall to 35.2 per cent of GDP by 2019-20, to what would be its lowest level in about 80 years.

There are many quotations from many respected agencies. For me, the most telling quotation comes from Ed Miliband who—backed up by his troops marching through the lobby to vote for the Tories’ austerity cuts—confirmed that the Labour Party, too, is wedded to austerity.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

What has always been distinctive about the budgets that have been put forward by John Swinney—and by the SNP Government—is that they are cohesive and look at the overall picture, and propose actions for a purpose. The Government draws up its budgets with partners, where appropriate, whether they are businesses or trade unions. The budgets are based on three main strands: making Scotland a more prosperous country, tackling inequality and protecting and reforming public services.

Again, John Swinney has come forward at this stage of the budget process with a cohesive budget. Unfortunately, the main Opposition party has not been able to rise to the challenge and say, “Okay—we think that there are other things that could be done to bring about fairness and equity in our society.” As always, Opposition members look for something that they perceive to be a political weakness, then harp on about it.

With regard to Jackie Baillie’s speech I say that it takes some brass neck for a Labour politician to accuse others of making overoptimistic fiscal forecasts. Gordon Brown managed to get his borrowing predictions wrong by more than £400 billion and during Labour’s time in office the national debt almost trebled.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

I am pleased to take part in the debate that my colleague Jim Eadie has brought to the chamber, and to give due recognition to Mercy Corps. For 35 years now, as we have heard, Mercy Corps has been carrying out fantastic work all over Europe and the world, with its main headquarters situated in Portland, Oregon. The organisation is quite quiet in doing what it does, and we do not hear about it all the time; it just quietly gets on with things.

I first came across Mercy Corps some years ago when I was trustee of a charity called Just World Partners, which dealt largely in the southern Pacific region. For various reasons the charity had to be wound up, and Mercy Corps came in and took over the small projects to ensure that the recipients of the work that was going on were not disadvantaged in any way. I have always felt that the organisation’s prime motivation is, as we have heard from other members, to give help where it is needed.

I have a particular interest in Timor-Leste, where Mercy Corps is doing a lot of work. Jim Eadie asked that women’s empowerment be at the centre of development. Mercy Corps has done some work in Timor Leste to prove that child nutrition increases as a result of women’s empowerment. I ask the minister to have a look at that work, as the information on it makes interesting reading.

I want to speak in particular about the energy for all programme, which is being run by Mercy Corps through the European Commission in Timor-Leste. Mercy Corps is doing that in the way that it does most other things, which is by partnering with local communities. That is not always easy. It sounds like one of those buzz phrases that everyone uses—“Yes, we partner with local communities.” Quite often, that is not the case, because it is difficult, and it is much easier for such organisations just to get on and do things and have all the local people standing around watching them. That was a problem that blighted international development for some time. Thankfully, we have got over that in the past couple of decades.

In Timor-Leste, Mercy Corps partnered with local committees in a scheme to address the country’s infrastructure problems. Infrastructure is bad there, which is not surprising when we consider the scorched earth policy that the Indonesians left with after the independence referendum.

Only 38 per cent of a population of just over 1 million in Timor-Leste has access to an electricity supply, which, I can say from experience, is not always reliable. In rural areas, 90 per cent of people relied on kerosene until Mercy Corps tried to make a difference by providing solar panels. It set up and partnered with small local companies, providing microfinance where necessary and trying to make a difference in people’s lives. We all know the problems associated with cooking on wood-fired open stoves, which is what most people in Timor do. However, to use kerosene for lighting is dangerous, not only in health terms but because of the horrific fires that can happen.

I could talk about this for ever and I have barely started. One thing that I took from Mercy Corp’s fine report is how honest and up front it is about its achievements. It has included headline lessons in the report, some of which are critical of itself. That is an important thing for agencies to do.

Mercy Corps has hit the nail on the head about an issue that always irritates me. It says that market development programmes require longer and more flexible intervention timeframes, particularly in high-risk areas. Far too often, we go in and say, “Right, in three years we’re going to make these wondrous changes.” Sometimes, three years is not enough. Sometimes, it will be 10 years, 20 years or even 30 years. We need to be realistic about how long it takes a society to turn itself around and be able to do things for itself.

The reason why I know that Mercy Corps has tried to partner with local communities in Timor is because I was speaking to some friends there. Although I heard good and bad reports about what Mercy Corps is doing there, that is proof that it is working, because if everybody was saying that it was fantastic it would be because it was just giving stuff away.

I say well done to everyone at Mercy Corps for the energy for all programme, and I give particular thanks to those working on the ground in Dili and all the rural areas of East Timor.

17:33  

Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Linda Fabiani

Can I come in first next time?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Linda Fabiani

That is fair enough.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Linda Fabiani

That leads to my substantive question, which is about coherence. Practically every one of the witnesses has expressed concerns that the package that has been put forward by Smith is not coherent. I know that two of you are on the stakeholder group, and there may be others, and I am glad that the discussions are on-going. How do you feel about the discussions and how can we go forward.

It has already been said that there is a bit of time before there will be any legislation. My view is that we should treat the Smith agreement as a minimum, because if we are truly talking about achieving coherence, there may well be other things that must come into the package; for example, job creation as well as workfare, and some of the other things that have been talked about in the context of welfare and taxation.

How do you feel generally about the consultation discussion that is going on with the Scotland Office. Is there room for sensible discussion to improve the very rushed package that is the Smith agreement?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Linda Fabiani

I have a voice like a foghorn so it never really matters.

I wonder whether that also applies to general workplace protection in terms of trade unions. I am aware of the on-going discussion at Westminster about thresholds for strikes. I am also aware of the current PCS campaign, because there is a consultation about taking away the right to have union dues paid direct from wages. Is that something that could be dealt with separately from employment law, equalities and other things that we have been quite clearly told will not be devolved?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Linda Fabiani

I have a very quick question for clarification from Dave Moxham, from a trade union perspective. You said that equality law and employment law would have had to be devolved together, which makes sense. Does the same apply to all elements of workplace—[Interruption.]

I am sorry. Did you hear me anyway?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP)

Sorry.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
YesCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12045.2 Jackson Carlaw: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Ric
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Linda Fabiani
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12136: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12005: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12003: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11819: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11798: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11604: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11065: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10869: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10802: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10778: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Linda Fabiani
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03970: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03875: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03813: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03558: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21704: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21706: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21703: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21705: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03247: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03159: Linda Fabiani, East Kilbride, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Question >>