Mary Scanlon MSP

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Search for other Speeches made by Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

How will the First Minister ensure that the £100 million for attainment will be effective—we all want that—when Audit Scotland states that there is no evaluation of council spend on education and improvements in attainment?



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Mary Scanlon

Finally, despite all the issues that we have raised, I put on record our appreciation of the excellent work that is done by teachers across Scotland, including in Paisley, and in every subject, from science to languages. We value each and every one of them, in Paisley and the rest of Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Mary Scanlon

Well, I do not think that the minister can argue too much about a reduction of 30,000, given the minuscule increase of 82.

I remind George Adam that what is a problem for Paisley can occasionally be a problem for the rest of Scotland too, so I thank him for his contribution.

One important point concerns maths being the language of science, and the fact that fluency in numeracy is critical for success in all STEM fields. It is surely unacceptable, therefore, that we have lost 383 maths teachers as part of the 10 per cent decline in numbers since 2007.

With regard to numeracy, every member in the chamber should be concerned about the findings in Audit Scotland’s report. The finding that 2 per cent of primary 7 pupils are not working at their expected level of numeracy is perhaps within what is acceptable, but what I find shocking and unacceptable is the finding that, two years later in S2, the percentage of pupils who are not achieving their expected levels of numeracy is not 2 per cent but 35 per cent. What is happening between primary 7, in which 2 per cent of pupils do not achieve the numeracy standards, and the point two years later at which 35 per cent do not?

I would have more respect for the Government if it had come to the chamber and said that those are the issues that it is addressing. Those issues have been highlighted not by political parties but by Audit Scotland.

Liz Smith made the point about teachers, which is particularly relevant where there are shortages. There are hot spots, as the minister said, and there are unique areas. One such area is Moray, where the council has done everything possible to advertise for teachers. It has had to close schools and send children home, as I know, given that my granddaughter is being educated at Mosstodloch primary school. There are 11 teachers in the area who are spouses of personnel who are based at RAF Lossiemouth. Those 11 teachers were qualified in the English system. Surely to goodness in that unique situation, something could be done by the GTC and the Government working together to ensure that every child in Moray gets the opportunities that they deserve.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Mary Scanlon

Let me just finish, please—it is quite an important point, and I will have to repeat it.

There has been a reduction of 30,000 STEM places in colleges on the SNP’s watch, but never mind—the Government has set a target to change that, and within one year it has brought back 82 places. That is what a target means: pretty well nothing, aside from a few thousand.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

I am pleased to close the debate and I thank all the speakers for their positive contributions. There was plenty of heat in the previous debate, but it is fair to say that perhaps we had a little bit more light in this one.

There is much in the SNP amendment that we agree with, but more still needs to be done to address the central issues that have been raised today. In Dr Allan’s summing up, there were much more encouraging signs of that than there were in his opening speech, and we are delighted about that.

Like others, I have listened seriously to the concerns that the STEM industries have expressed about the state of science education in Scottish schools. As Liz Smith said, it is expected that by 2030 7.1 million jobs in the UK will be science related, and current projections from the Science Council indicate that about 650,000 of those jobs will be in Scotland. We can all agree that we want children in Scotland to be able to take full advantage of all those opportunities.

Dr Allan talked about setting targets for teachers. It is not just about setting targets. We hear about the setting of targets in the health service and everywhere else. That is welcome, but it is the achievement of the targets—the supply of teachers—that we are looking for. It is very easy to say, “I set a target.” That is good and it is welcome, but the achievement of the targets and an adequate supply of teachers would be even more welcome.

In the 2012 SEAG report, the Scottish Government recognised that life sciences and the energy sectors are industries that are key to economic growth in Scotland. Projections for growth in STEM have also been confirmed by those industries, which is why it is imperative to capitalise on the opportunities that that growth presents for all our young people, particularly women, to take advantage of that potential for economic growth.

Iain Gray and Liz Smith in particular made excellent speeches, especially on the STEM education gender equality issue and on highlighting potential career options for the future. Whether or not Iain Gray had a members business’ debate on the topic recently, I think that if something is worth saying, it is worth saying quite a few times. This issue is so important that we felt that it was worth bringing back to the chamber for wider debate, and we make no apology for that.

I remind members that female scientists have excelled in politics. The UK’s first female Prime Minister was a scientist, and I think that very few in the European Community would pick an argument with Mrs Merkel, who was a research scientist in a previous life and has brought first-class scientific analytical skills to politics with considerable success.

Christian Allard reminded us in his contribution that languages are important. Yes, the debate was about science, but it was well done nonetheless. The learned societies have raised some excellent issues, and Larry Flanagan from the Educational Institute of Scotland raised concerns in evidence to the Education and Culture Committee about teachers who train in Scotland and then fast-foot down to England—I do not know why.

I thank Iain Gray for showing us this week’s New Scientist. We need to understand the issues better, and we need to understand what is happening and why in the area that he discussed.

Ruth Davidson highlighted the issue of college places in STEM courses, which are down by 30,000 on the SNP’s watch—but never mind, because the Government has set a target to redress that.

Dr Allan rose—



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Mary Scanlon

As the self-styled species champion for the freshwater pearl mussel, I am aware of the 50 per cent decline in its population, which proves that neither the Government nor the public agencies have done enough to protect the species and are still not providing adequate protection, despite the legislation going back as far as the minister said. How prepared is the Scottish Government for referral to the European Court of Justice and subsequent fines for not providing adequate protection for the pearl mussel?



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
6. Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

To ask the Scottish Government what is being done to comply with the habitats directive to conserve freshwater pearl mussels in the River Spey. (S4O-04036)



Meeting of the Parliament 19 February 2015 : Thursday, February 19, 2015
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

I, too, thank Patrick Harvie for securing this debate on young voters and for welcoming the excellent work of the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee. I think that we all share the concerns about voter turnout, and Patrick Harvie’s analysis was excellent.

I have known Stewart Stevenson for a long time. I put on the record that I thank our own Stewart for another of his truly unique, excellent and memorable contributions.

I did my fair share of hustings across the Highlands. John Finnie and I almost started to share cars—I think that I did more hustings with him than I did with any other parliamentarian. We met 16 and 17-year-olds not just in schools; they also attended meetings in village halls; they joined in with the street stalls; and they were at the highland games, the agricultural shows and the many other gatherings to debate and join in the referendum campaign. We had a great team of young people in Moray, some of whom were still a few months too young to vote in the referendum. They were certainly much more informed in the political debate than I ever was at their age.

The Scottish Conservatives fully support the call for the franchise to be extended to include 16 and 17-year-olds in all elections, and we were pleased that the Prime Minister’s signature on the Edinburgh agreement allowed 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum last year.

I noticed that an article in The Guardian on 7 January stated that the Prime Minister

“said he would be open to leaving it to MPs in the Commons to decide whether the vote should be extended to 16- and 17-year-olds.”

The debate down south is interesting, too. The article also said that a number of Tory back benchers,

“including former minister Damian Green, have expressed support for reducing the voting age”.

That is very healthy, and I think that we all understand that that is their decision, not ours.

The Smith commission, of course, is now taking the next step in lowering the voting age for 16 and 17-year-olds in Scottish Parliament elections. That will be in place for the 2016 election, as we implement the first stage of the Smith commission’s historic cross-party agreement on the devolution of further powers to Scotland. That will give us all the powers in relation to the Scottish Parliament and local government elections here.

Whether a person was for or against giving votes to 16 or 17-year-olds, no one could fail to be impressed by their participation and understanding of the issues relating to the referendum. They made their own case. The questions from school pupils on the currency, European Union membership, international crime, defence, terrorism and even MI5 could not fail to impress. The 16 and 17-year-olds were not passive bystanders in the debate; they were at the heart of it.

I attended hustings in schools from Tobermory to Gordonstoun with Richard Lochhead. At both Elgin high school and Gordonstoun school, the attendance was around 300. I noticed that a member of staff at Gordonstoun wore a yes badge. From that, I assume that that school placed no restriction on freedom of expression or, indeed, freedom of speech. Unfortunately, Highland Council barred us from taking part in a debate at Kingussie high school. We resorted to the village hall, which some pupils were allowed to attend at the end of their school day.

That is unlike what happened in Scottish Borders Council, where schools were encouraged to hold debates during school hours given the transport and travel issues in rural areas. It is also worth mentioning that South Ayrshire Council provided a session for young people who had recently left school and were in the skills towards employment project to improve their employability. The council brought those young people into the debate, too.

Conservatives would not wish to dictate to local authorities how to conduct their approach in schools to referendums or national elections. However, we trust that all local authorities will reflect—as Patrick Harvie said that they should—on what they did during the referendum: what worked, what did not and what they would do differently next time round. We have to respect the democratic status and responsibilities of councils.

I note that the mock elections in schools in both Aberdeenshire and Moray predicted a no majority at a time when the polls were emphatically predicting a yes. It seems that the 16 and 17-year-olds predicted the outcome much more accurately than many of the pollsters did.

12:56  

Meeting of the Parliament 18 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I appreciate that you were not in the chair for question time, but I seek your advice regarding who determines whether a question is irrelevant and whether it is the Presiding Officers or, indeed, the ministers. During question time we heard from Fergus Ewing, who determined that a supplementary question was not relevant. That was not ruled as being out of order by Deputy Presiding Officer John Scott.



Meeting of the Parliament 18 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

Some tenant farmers on the Crown Estate in Moray are concerned that their voices will not be heard during the consultation process moving towards more devolution of powers from the Crown Estate. Will the cabinet secretary ensure that within Moray the rural portfolio, the tenant farmers and local stakeholders will be involved in the process?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12423.1 Alex Rowley: Commission on Local Tax Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-12423 in the n
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NoCarried

S4M-12423 Marco Biagi: Commission on Local Tax Reform—That the Parliament supports the establishment
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NoCarried

S4M-12385 Liz Smith: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament agrees that a solid grou
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NoCarried

S4M-12395.1 Fergus Ewing: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in the
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-12395.2 Patrick Harvie: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in t
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12395 Murdo Fraser: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—That the Parliament notes with concern the l
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NoCarried

S4M-12385.3 Alasdair Allan: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to motion S4M-12385 i
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NoCarried

S4M-12382.3 Mary Fee: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion S4
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12382.1 Gavin Brown: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12382.2 Willie Rennie: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to moti
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Mary Scanlon
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12316.1: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12278: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11975.3: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 05/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11973: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11901.1: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11627: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11398.1: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11327: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11326: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11145: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Mary Scanlon
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-04061: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24489: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04036: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24331: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24332: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24330: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24329: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24298: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24299: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24156: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/01/2015 Show Full Question >>

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