Murdo Fraser MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Is it true that contractors that are working on the new women’s prison project in Greenock will be told tomorrow that the project will not now go ahead?



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Presiding Officer, I have a point of order in relation to the answer that the First Minister gave me in connection with the future of the proposed women’s prison project in Greenock. Given your statement to Parliament on Tuesday about communications and announcements being made by the Scottish Government first to the press and not, as they properly should be, to the Parliament, how can you assist members who wish to see further information on that topic being announced to Parliament and not in some other fashion?



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Murdo Fraser

Mr McDonald occasionally makes a living as a stand-up comic, and that was about par for the course. I was simply quoting some interesting statistics that show that, against historic trends in which we have been matching or exceeding the UK’s performance, in the third quarter of 2014—uniquely—the trends went in the opposite direction. I would have thought that, were the member concerned about those trends, he would be reflecting on the events that took place in the third quarter of 2014 that had an impact only in Scotland and not elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

As a number of members have pointed out, with the setting of new tax rates, this budget is of historic significance. I welcome that. This is what a grown-up Parliament should be like, where we are debating not just how we spend the money but how the money is raised and how the tax rates are set. I look forward to the Smith commission proposals being implemented so that we can have a much more rounded discussion on the setting of tax rates.

We need to put the budget into context otherwise the SNP will continually complain about Westminster cuts. I was in the chamber yesterday when Alex Neil said that Westminster had slashed to ribbons the Scottish Government’s budget. The reality is that the 2015-16 budget is, in real terms, the second highest budget that the Scottish Government has ever had to deal with. According to SPICe, the only budget that was higher in real terms than the budget that Mr Swinney is dealing with today was the 2009-10 budget. In each of the past 16 years, with that exception, the budget was lower. That does not exactly represent the savage cuts or the slashing to ribbons of the budget, which are phrases that we sometimes hear from those on the SNP benches.

There never seems to be any shortage of money when it comes to the Scottish Government’s preferred projects, whether that is the extra money that it announced yesterday for health—incidentally, it is playing catch-up on the position taken by the UK Government—or, for that matter, the £10 million that was produced as if by magic for the V&A project in Dundee. There is no great sign of a cash shortage.

When it comes to taxation, the LBTT changes that were previously announced by Mr Swinney would have hit many aspirational families hard. For example, anyone buying a house costing more than £254,000 would have paid more. My colleague Gavin Brown previously proposed an amendment that would have helped every house buyer in Scotland and which would have been fully funded following the chancellor’s stamp duty cut, handing the Scottish Government an extra £64 million a year. We welcome the changes that Mr Swinney announced today. I listened with interest to the detail and I will take away the proposals and look at them. Gavin Brown was entirely right to say that they merited a cautious welcome.

Mr Swinney is always talking about the competitive rates regime that we have in Scotland for business. We welcome that, too. We strongly supported the small business bonus scheme. However, we are not so keen on some of the more recent developments, whether that is the empty property relief or the phasing out of the retail levy. We have not seen the Scottish Government mirror the changes down south to give an additional bonus to retail premises. We are also seeing the proposed introduction of rates, all on the sporting interests, to take £7 million a year out of the rural economy. We may have a competitive advantage, but I regret that it is being watered down.

This is not the budget that the Scottish Conservatives would have set out, but aspects of it are welcome. We will be happy to see it proceed to the next stage to allow further discussions.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
2. Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to promote major events in Scotland. (S4O-03922)



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Murdo Fraser

The cabinet secretary mentioned the open golf championship, which is coming to St Andrews in July. What will the Scottish Government and its agencies do specifically to ensure that we maximise the economic opportunity for Fife that will result from that event, which will attract a worldwide audience of many millions, and to ensure that as many of those people as possible come to visit Fife in the years to come?



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

The Deputy First Minister started his speech this afternoon with his usual summary of the economic situation. He was right to say that there is good news. There is an old saying that success has many fathers. In this chamber we have got used to the tussle between Mr Swinney, trying to claim credit for the economic successes, and representatives of the coalition parties, on this occasion represented by Mr Rennie, trying to state that it was all down to decisions taken in Westminster, where most of the macroeconomic levers are held.

However, Mr Swinney was a little bit partial in his quoting of today’s statistics. We saw two new economic indicators published today, one of which was the unemployment figure. Mr Swinney is right to say that the level of unemployment is still lower in Scotland than in the UK as a whole, but unemployment in Scotland went up 7,000 in the period from September to November. We also saw the economic growth figure published, and although the rate of economic growth in Scotland is still rising—it is 0.6 per cent—it is now lower than the figures for the two previous quarters and, for the first time in 2014 statistics, it is lower than the figure for the rest of the UK.

Those two economic indicators for the third quarter of 2014 suggest that we are not doing as well as we were or as well as the rest of the UK. What event happened—uniquely in Scotland—in the third quarter of 2014 that may have had that economic impact? We have, incidentally, seen the same economic impact on retail figures, house prices and economic confidence among small businesses. Perhaps, in trying to claim credit for successes, the Deputy First Minister needs to reflect on the fact that the referendum, which was his party’s initiative, may not have been entirely beneficial to the Scottish economy.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The Convener (Murdo Fraser)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I welcome all the members, our witnesses and those who are joining us in the public gallery to the first meeting in 2015 of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee. I remind everyone to turn off—or, at least, turn to silent—all mobile phones and other electronic devices so that they do not interfere with the sound equipment.

We have received apologies from Chic Brodie and Joan McAlpine, although Joan hopes that she might be able to join us a bit later. We are joined by Bruce Crawford, who is here as a substitute member. I welcome him.

We have a change in committee members, so I pay tribute to those who have left us. Richard Baker and Margaret McDougall were members of the committee for some time. We thank them for their contribution to the committee’s work and wish them success in their new berths in the Parliament. I welcome two new members—Johann Lamont and Lewis Macdonald—and thank them for joining us.

Item 1 on the agenda is a declaration of interests by our new members and then by our substitute member. I invite them to indicate whether they have any relevant interests to declare.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The Convener

Under item 2, does the committee agree to take item 4 in private?

Members indicated agreement.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The Convener

Item 3 is evidence for our inquiry on the economic impact of the creative industries.

I place on record the committee’s thanks to those who attended the event that we held last Wednesday evening. A number of committee members were there. It was a useful opportunity for us to learn from people in the sector about some of the challenges and issues that they face as well as an enjoyable opportunity to explore and experience some of the products that are on offer.

A range of themes came out of that event—some of which we can explore in this evidence session—including the diversity of the sector, the existing levels of support and the challenges that are being faced. Some of those themes have been highlighted in recent submissions to the committee.

I welcome our panel. Paul Durrant is the director of business development at Abertay University; Brian Baglow is the director of the Scottish Games Network; Colin MacDonald is the games commissioner for Channel 4; and Chris van der Kuyl is the chairman of 4j Studios. I thank you all for coming along.

We have about 90 minutes for this evidence session. Given that we have received quite a range of written submissions, I will not ask you to make opening statements. I am sure that we can pick up the points that you are keen to get across in your responses to the questions that we ask.

As there are four panellists, I ask members to direct their questions initially to one specific panellist instead of throwing open their questions, in which case all the panellists would want to have a say. If other panellists want to contribute to the discussion, they should catch my eye and I will bring them in as best I can. I exhort members to keep their questions as short and to the point as possible. If answers are similarly as short and to the point as possible, that will help us to cover the broad range of topics that we want to cover in the time that is available.

I will start with the issue of the lack of a national strategy or vision for the sector, which is covered in a number of the written submissions including Brian Baglow’s submission. I raise the point because it is reflected in quite a lot of the evidence that we have received. Colin Anderson, the managing director of Denki, sets out in his submission his view that

“The primary issue affecting the Digital Media sector ... at the moment is the lack of a commonly held vision and clearly defined long-term strategy that all government agencies, departments, investors, businesses, etc., can use as the basis for aligning their endeavours.”

He goes on to expand on that and on why he thinks that there is a need for a national digital network for Scotland. I think that you agree with that point, Brian, because it is in your submission, too. Can you explain why you think that that is the case and what needs to be done to address it? I will bring in the other panellists afterwards.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The Convener

Thank you. I am keen to get the entire panel to comment briefly on this.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
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NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

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
YesDefeated

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

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

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
YesCarried

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
AbstainCarried

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Murdo Fraser
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12141: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12098: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12076: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11887: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11756.1: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11741: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11670: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11574: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11440: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11382: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Murdo Fraser
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24165: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23985: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23986: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23984: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03922: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23754: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23755: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23703: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23704: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23702: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Question >>

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