Mike MacKenzie MSP

Welcome to Mike MacKenzie MSP's biography pages

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Mike MacKenzie

Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Mike MacKenzie (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)

I must first compliment the cabinet secretary, for it is thanks to his ambition and drive in implementing our food and drink policy that the sector has undergone a revolution since 2008. That work has paid off beyond all reasonable expectations, with a growth in turnover of 14.4 per cent between 2008 and 2011—the strongest growth of any sector in Scotland.

Targets on turnover and exports have been exceeded, with a 51 per cent growth in the value of food and drink exports between 2007 and 2013. By any standard, that is a remarkable success story.

I have had the opportunity of witnessing that amazing phenomenon at first hand across the Highlands and Islands, and I have seen a huge improvement in the variety and quality of the food and drink available.

Presiding Officer, please allow me take you on a brief culinary tour of the Highlands and Islands: a two-day whistle-stop food fest. Arriving in Argyll via the gateway of Inveraray, we could breakfast at Loch Fyne Oysters and sample the amazing array of high-quality seafood and the other foods available.

It might be best then to fortify ourselves with a dram in Campbeltown where the Springbank distillery is the oldest family-owned distillery in Scotland, and—I understand—the only one that still carries out the full process on one site. We should also visit its sister distillery, the Glengyle distillery, which is the first of a number of new distilleries built in this millennium. Heading north, we could fortify ourselves further—if we needed it—with some Islay malts, and then on to Oban and lunch at the Eusk restaurant.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Mike MacKenzie

I was assuming that neither of us was driving.

We should lunch at the Eusk restaurant, which has a selection of great local foods available that are prepared to a consistently high standard. Before leaving Oban, we should call in to speak to the inspirational John Forteith, who has performed a remarkable service for local producers and local caterers alike and helped to launch brands such as Argyll venison as well as organising local food-and-drink trade shows.

Next, let us take the ferry across to Mull and sample some Isle of Mull cheese; some of the excellent biscuits produced by the Island Bakery; and some handmade chocolates at the Tobermory Chocolate Company.

At this point, Presiding Officer, I suggest that, being busy people, we recruit the services of our friend and colleague Stewart Stevenson and ask him to fly us to Stornoway to sample some of the world-famous black pudding, which has now been granted protected status by the European Union. We will then fly onwards to Orkney, where we will be literally spoilt for choice among high-quality local produce, from locally made crisps, cheese, ice cream and oatcakes to the finest roast beef that I have ever tasted and the best steak that I have had since the one that I had in France a decade or so ago. Indeed, it is hard to find a butcher on Orkney who has not won a prestigious award for the quality of their meat.

After an evening meal in one of Orkney’s many quality restaurants, we could take the overnight ferry for Shetland. Shetland is the place for fish—at which it excels above all parts of the Highlands and Islands—but also for wonderful oatcakes and cheese.

For breakfast, I recommend the smoked haddock and free-range eggs. I have never tasted better. Before we head home, we could have lunch in Frankie’s fish and chip shop in Brae and a quick trip up north to the island of Unst to the UK’s most northerly brewery, the wonderfully named Valhalla brewery, for some of Sonny Priest’s heavenly beer.

In the short time available, I have inevitably missed out more producers of excellent food and drink than I can possibly mention. There is much more to sample and feast upon.

Scotland’s high-quality, locally produced food and drink add greatly to the visitor experience and, therefore, bring quality and added value to our important tourism industry. They add to Scotland’s exports, which are vital in shoring up the UK’s balance of trade deficit. Local consumption of local food and drink saves on food miles, which helps to reduce our greenhouse gasses. Our healthy food contributes to our health and wellbeing. The provenance of our food and drink enhances Scotland’s brand worldwide.

There is no doubt that food and drink are a success story for Scotland. However, the really good news is that we have barely scratched the surface. There is much more to be discovered. It is hard to think of a part of the Highlands and Islands—or, indeed, the whole of Scotland—where new producers are not emerging and recognising the added value of bringing their quality produce to markets at home and abroad.

For many years, we failed to recognise the many opportunities afforded by our wonderful food and drink. Thanks to the Government and the cabinet secretary, that is no longer the case.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Mike MacKenzie (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)

Good morning, cabinet secretary. I am sure that you will be gratified to learn that Norman Kerr, when he gave evidence to the committee, was very complimentary about the Scottish Government’s approach, drawing comparisons with other nations of the United Kingdom and giving a strong indication that Scotland had a much better approach to fuel poverty. However, do you agree with his sentiment about the extent to which Scottish Government funding is designed to be complementary to UK initiatives and funding streams and his view that the uncertainty that seemed to prevail with the UK funding streams made it very difficult for the Scottish Government to design complementary schemes, particularly in rural areas? I think that one of the committee members said last week that off-gas-grid measures are particularly difficult to implement and present significant challenges and that, for instance, the UK ECO does not do well in rural areas where those off-gas-grid and hard-to-treat property issues prevail.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Mike MacKenzie

Norman Kerr raised some eyebrows among committee members when he expressed disappointment that a fair number of local authorities—he was not keen to single them out by name—had spent none of the first year’s allocation of the home energy efficiency programmes Scotland funding and, in fact, were struggling to implement schemes and spend the money. Although the Scottish Government had made that money available, action had not been taken on the ground and the money had not been spent, perhaps because councils were not ready to implement schemes. However, Mr Kerr complimented the Scottish Government on showing some flexibility in allowing them to carry over that funding. Do you agree with his analysis, and could any more be done to help or encourage councils to get that money out there to tackle fuel poverty?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Mike MacKenzie

Cabinet secretary, your comments about energy market reform and uncertainty leading to a slowdown—we hope that it is just a slowdown—in renewable energy projects and investment seem analogous to the points that I was trying to make.

The UK Government has sent unfortunate market signals that give rise to uncertainty, such as changes to the solar PV proposals, drastic reductions to feed-in tariffs over a short time and the prevarication and inordinate length of time that it took to bring forward the domestic renewable heat incentive. Given that Scottish Government funding is designed to be complementary and that there is a crossover between renewable energy and fuel poverty—for example, some community projects use profits from renewable energy to mitigate fuel poverty in their area—such uncertainty must create difficulties in designing Scottish Government funding streams that work well.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Mike MacKenzie

We have heard about fuel poverty in the Western Isles, but from recent reports we know that there are high levels of fuel poverty in Shetland and Orkney and across other parts of the Highlands and Islands. Do you share my concern that the extra 2p per unit in electricity bills for consumers across the Highlands and Islands would exacerbate an already difficult situation?



Meeting of the Parliament 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Mike MacKenzie (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)

Will the member take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Mike MacKenzie

Will Alex Johnstone take an intervention?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 05 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Mike MacKenzie (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)

I am an MSP for the Highlands and Islands.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 05 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Mike MacKenzie

Thank you, convener—you will not be surprised if I articulate a view that is somewhat contrary to the views that are expressed in some of the submissions that we received. In doing so, I want to put firmly on the record that I do not condone any such illegal activity in any way, shape or form.

However, in preparing for the meeting this morning I was reminded of an article by the distinguished economist Professor John Kay, which I read a number of years ago. In the article, Professor Kay suggests that Government taxation policy does not help us with the problem at all—in fact, it often causes it. He uses the example of tobacco and cigarettes, and suggests that economists have long known that when taxation or duty gets above a certain level, the effect is to kick-start smuggling. It can be plotted quite accurately on a graph.

If we look at the figures, we can detect that the cigarette and tobacco smuggling industry leapt from an almost negligible baseline in a way that corresponds with the Government setting taxation beyond a certain level. That is mirrored in other areas. We also know that, when VAT was increased to 20 per cent on construction repairs and improvements, that kick-started the black economy and empowered it in a way that had never been seen before. I know about that from my work, certainly anecdotally, as small businesses complain to me day in, day out that they are undermined, particularly in the construction sector.

I will not labour my point further. To what extent is Government policy on taxation helpful in that regard, and to what extent is it deeply unhelpful?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

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

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

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

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
>> Show more
YesCarried

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Mike MacKenzie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11616: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11614: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11513: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11512: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11493: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11309: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11240: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11146: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11055: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11003: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Mike MacKenzie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03640: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00814: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03586: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03505: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03458: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21868: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21759: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03330: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03324: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21061: Mike MacKenzie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Question >>

Further information

Email our Public Information Service for more information.