Margaret McCulloch MSP

Welcome to Margaret McCulloch MSP's biography pages

Parliamentary Activities

Member of the Conveners Group

 

 

Search for other Speeches made by The Convener

Meeting of the Parliament 05 March 2015 : Thursday, March 05, 2015
Margaret McCulloch

Even as the Scottish National Party was participating in the Smith commission, it remained clear about its intention to act on the clustering of payday lenders in our high streets with the powers that are at the Scottish Parliament’s disposal. Why is the Smith agreement now being used as an excuse to delay the action on the proliferation of payday lenders that the Scottish Government promised to take in its action plan?



Meeting of the Parliament 05 March 2015 : Thursday, March 05, 2015
4. Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making towards addressing payday lending and gambling in town centres and neighbourhoods. (S4O-04085)



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 03 March 2015 : Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

Why do we not ask Mark Griffin to appear before the committee to explain matters instead of writing to him?



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate on a subject that I believe the Scottish Parliament has had to confront for some time. We cannot defer reform of local taxation again for another term and another session of Parliament. We cannot lurch from one fix to the next, knowing that long-term damage is being done to public services. We cannot continue to tax properties today on the basis of a valuation last conducted in 1991. We cannot pretend that the council tax freeze is anything other than underfunded. As Unison, the leading trade union for local government workers, has said:

“We need to develop a new consensus that provides a long-term solution.”

That is why I congratulate the Local Government and Regeneration Committee on showing leadership on the issue by recommending that an independent cross-party commission on local taxation be established. In doing so, I hope that the committee has brought about the means by which we can finally address the serious, mounting issues surrounding the financing of local government.

Figures cited by Unison indicate that council tax accounts for only about a fifth of the income of our councils in Scotland. There will be variations from one local authority to the next. For instance, there have been times when the income generated in South Lanarkshire has been greater than in its larger neighbour, North Lanarkshire, where the level of need and deprivation is greater. That is because, as others have said, council tax, as a property-based tax, is based on yield from taxing property values, and the values of properties in some of South Lanarkshire’s suburbs are higher.

However, relative to grants from central Government, the overall share of income that is generated through council tax has been declining everywhere, and it will have declined further since the council tax freeze was introduced. A review of local taxation is welcome, but we cannot lose sight of wider issues in the financing of local government. We must be clear about the remit of the commission—what it will do and what it will not do—because council tax is just one income stream.

There have been several reviews into non-domestic rates. One such review, into the cumbersome appeals process, is on-going. More and more businesses are appealing and our assessors and valuation boards are swamped. Many businesses have told me that valuations are completely out of kilter with the property market. The last valuation was postponed and so taxes are effectively being levelled on properties at pre-recession values. Our experience of business rates might offer some lessons for the commission if it decides to continue with some form of property taxation.

I draw the Government’s attention to the impact that changes in the Scottish Government’s grant are having at the local level. For example, South Lanarkshire Council has advised that, while the grant levels for 2016-17 are not yet available, it expects that it will have to revise its budget strategy for the financial years beyond 2017. Its previous budget strategy, from May 2013 to 2016-17, assumed that there would be a consistent level of central funding. That has not proven to be the case.

South Lanarkshire Council has warned that if the Parliament is to make laws that have obvious financial implications for local authorities, that should, ideally, be reflected in their funding. In evidence to the Education and Culture Committee, the council specifically highlighted costs arising from new legislation on additional support for learning as an area in which the council wants to meet the Parliament’s expectations but is struggling because of financial constraints. Those issues are important because grants account for so much of a council’s income.

I draw members’ attention to the work of the Scottish women’s budget group, which I raised with the First Minister during our recent public session of the Conveners Group. The budget group directly challenged the assertion in this year’s budget equality statement that there is “parity” in the council tax freeze. It does not accept that the freeze helps people on low incomes, because of cuts to council services, which those in need depend on most. Therefore, I simply remind the Government and members of the commission of the need to consider the distributional effects of any changes in their entirety. What will they mean for those on low incomes, the people who depend on council services most, women and those who already face the greatest inequalities?

The Local Government and Regeneration Committee has helped the Scottish Government and Parliament to take an important step. It has recommended not only that we examine the issues but that we do it in the right way with an independent, all-party commission.

16:05  

Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

Will the member give way?



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Margaret McCulloch

I support John Mason’s suggestion.



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I am of the opposite opinion. We have a legal team that is here to advise us, and I think that we should take its advice that the regulations may raise a devolution issue. Therefore, I think that we should draw them to the attention of Parliament.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I want to reflect briefly on when we last voted on the bill at stage 1, and on the scrutiny of the bill that we have undertaken in committee. As members will be aware, the then Subordinate Legislation Committee’s remit was extended in 2013 and, as the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, we scrutinise not only subordinate legislation and the delegation of powers, but Scottish Law Commission bills of the kind that we are debating today. Indeed, this is the first time that a recommendation of the Scottish Law Commission has been brought to the Parliament under the new arrangements.

The bill that Parliament is asked to consider has already been passed unopposed and unamended at stage 1 and stage 2, as has been mentioned, and I see no reason for Parliament to reject it at stage 3. I believe not only that the general principles of the bill are sound, but that—as I will explain—there is a demonstrable need to modernise our contract law in Scotland. The bill proposes to clarify how a document can be executed in counterpart, and it will expressly permit the delivery of paper legal documents electronically.

In supporting the bill, I hope that Parliament can give clarity on key concepts in Scots law and practice; reflect changes in technology and business practice; and make a wider contribution to the Scottish economy. The Scottish Law Commission has, in its work, highlighted the need for the bill and demonstrated that there is support for reform across the legal, academic and business communities.

The Scottish Law Commission identified two problems with commercial and contract law in Scotland that the bill could address. The commission highlighted the need for clarity in respect of counterparts, because it is not certain that a legal document can be brought into effect if it is signed in counterpart. The commission also called for clarity in respect of the law on delivery, because it is not clear whether a paper contract can be said to have been delivered if it is sent and received electronically. The commission’s view is that the law as it stands is not fit for purpose. The letter of the law in Scotland is out of step with contract law in neighbouring jurisdictions and with common legal and business practice.

The committee heard evidence that businesses in Scotland sometimes choose to use English rather than Scots law to govern agreements because counterparts are permitted south of the border. That disincentive to use Scots law is compounded by the legal uncertainty over methods of delivery, and it could harm our economic competitiveness. By allowing the use of counterpart signatures as an option to execute a contract and by allowing contracts to be delivered electronically, we could help businesses to make savings on time, travel and accommodation.

As I said in the stage 1 debate, only a limited number of people in a business are authorised to sign legal documents on behalf of the company and the law here currently requires more of them than is required of their counterparts elsewhere. The bill is an opportunity to remove a disincentive to conducting business in Scots law and to make it easier for parties to enter into commercial contracts and transactions. With some small but significant changes, we can bring contract law up to date and make it for fit for purpose. For that reason, I will support the bill.

14:51  

Equal Opportunities Committee 19 February 2015 : Thursday, February 19, 2015
The Convener

I thank the cabinet secretary and his officials for coming along and giving us that information. We will take up your offer and, I am sure, write to you with other questions.

That concludes the public part of today’s meeting. Our next meeting will take place on Thursday 5 March.

10:27 Meeting continued in private until 11:03.  

Equal Opportunities Committee 19 February 2015 : Thursday, February 19, 2015
The Convener

Thank you very much for that update. We appreciate that you are working to a tight timescale this morning, so I will pass you straight over to John Finnie, who will ask the first set of questions.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12521.2 Jackie Baillie: Protecting Public Services and Boosting Scotland’s Economy—As an amendme
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12521.1 Gavin Brown: Protecting Public Services and Boosting Scotland’s Economy—As an amendment
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12521.3 Willie Rennie: Protecting Public Services and Boosting Scotland’s Economy—As an amendmen
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12521 John Swinney: Protecting Public Services and Boosting Scotland’s Economy—That the Parliame
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-12495 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-12491.2 John Swinney: Privacy and the State—As an amendment to motion S4M-12491 in the name of W
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-12491.1 Richard Simpson: Privacy and the State—As an amendment to motion S4M-12491 in the name o
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12491 Willie Rennie: Privacy and the State—That the Parliament notes the Scottish Government’s c
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-12492.2 Jamie Hepburn: Mental Health—As an amendment to motion S4M-12492 in the name of Jim Hume
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-12492 Jim Hume: Mental Health—That the Parliament notes that one in four people will experience
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Margaret McCulloch
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11557: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11478: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10178: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10165: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09923: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09631: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09053: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08594: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08138: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 31/10/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07558: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/08/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Margaret McCulloch
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-04085: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 25/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04059: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04001: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24195: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24196: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04000: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24157: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 22/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24104: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23979: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23980: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>