Nigel Don MSP

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Member of the Conveners Group

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Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
2. Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

To ask the Scottish Government what its assessment is of the proposal to reconsider the Aberdeen western peripheral route fastlink-A90 junction design. (S4O-03722)



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Nigel Don

The minister and I have discussed this quite a bit. Will he confirm that, although changing the Stonehaven junction as suggested would involve a relatively small variation of contract, it could not possibly be undertaken without the planning considerations, which might build in the delays that nobody wants to see? As the constituency MSP, I am not suggesting that there should be any further delay at all.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

Can the minister confirm my suspicion that starting to export is far more difficult than carrying it on? Probably, most businesses struggle to see an overseas market because it is just not what they have done before.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

This has been a long afternoon, but I will join the list of colleagues who have taken us around their constituencies. I hope that we will find that we have not only had a little lesson in geography but that I have gone somewhere interesting.

If I were to take a tour around Angus North and Mearns, I could start with Oatmeal of Alford. That sounds strange, because Alford is not in my constituency, but apparently the business, which produces organic cereals and foods, took its name because the nearest railway station was in Alford. There is now one in Laurencekirk. We find out strange things.

I could pop into Ella Drinks in Brechin for the Bouvrage raspberry, blaeberry and strawberry drinks. I reiterate the point that the cabinet secretary made earlier: we produce lots of berries, which are very good for us. If we do not want to eat them, we can drink them as juice.

My colleague Graeme Dey, who is the MSP for Angus South, is not able to be with us this afternoon, but I know that he would have picked up on Angus Growers, which produces soft fruits across the whole area, including in Angus, Perthshire and Fife, and Mackays, which produces jams and marmalades in Arbroath from those very fruits. I am sure that he would also have wanted to point out the Arbroath smokie and in particular RR Spink and Sons, which was established in 1715 and produces Arbroath smokies.

Coming back to my own constituency, I must mention the Glencadam distillery in Brechin. We have many distilleries in Scotland, but no member has yet mentioned today that those distilleries are where they are because of the water. That is the bit that the industry tends not to transport, although Glencadam has nine miles of pipe to bring in its water from the springs of the Moorans.

Water is also exported from the Strathmore bottling plant in Forfar, which makes use of the fact that the spring is quite literally at the bottom of what must, once upon a time, have been the garden. It is fascinating to see the pipe just appearing out of the ground, and that is, of course, where the water is bottled.

Those local businesses employ people and produce products that we enjoy and export. When I speak to people from those businesses, they pick up on one of the points that the Labour Party’s amendment mentions, which is the need for skills. The food industry uses a wide range of skills that are not necessarily taught at home or in school. As a chemical engineer, I probably have the best qualifications for working in the food industry, because it is about process development and chemistry on a decent scale, which is exactly what I was taught to do.

As other colleagues such as George Adam and Jean Urquhart have mentioned, our generation does not, by and large, know how to cook. It was probably our parents who were the last cookers. Our children frequently have no idea of how to cook, and that is one of the issues that we must address if we are to deal with obesity and encourage the use of fresh food, because we are now dependent on processed food.

I will major in obesity as an issue, but first I will pick up on the issue of pollinators, which no other member has mentioned today. Members received a briefing from Buglife the Invertebrate Conservation Trust that pointed out that bees and their like are an extraordinarily important part of our food system. The cabinet secretary might want to consider, formally or otherwise, whether counting bees could be one of the national indicators. We count birds as a surrogate for biodiversity and fish as a measure of sea health. I wonder whether pollinators, as they are relatively big and countable, could be counted, or at least estimated, nationally as a national indicator of agricultural health.

Lastly, I come to the issue of obesity, which other members have mentioned. I took the advice of one of our national experts on the Scottish diet—members will know that I do that fairly frequently. Our difficulty is that the diet has not really changed much. Despite our best efforts, it is still far too easy for us to be overweight and obese. It is far too easy for us to eat too many calories—and, incidentally, to eat too much salt.

Although the figures might have stabilised, they are certainly not getting better. The Scottish Government is clearly ambitious in trying to tackle obesity, and I commend the cabinet secretary for raising the issue not only in the document but in some detail in the debate this afternoon. It is very easy to talk about our exports and products while ignoring an issue that is central to the nation’s health.

Members have mentioned that tackling obesity is now probably as important as tackling smoking with regard to the costs to our nation. I commend the cabinet secretary for taking the issue seriously and for producing a standard for responsible marketing of food and drink. The industry will not like what we are trying to tell it, but it will have to get on board, as obesity is a problem that we have to sort.

We might need taxation, and we clearly need work on portion sizes, formulation and education, which is already going on. Those areas will all play their part, but the problem will be extremely difficult to crack, and everyone—including industry—needs to get involved. The profit motive is clearly not on our side. We need to find ways of persuading food businesses to go the extra mile to look after the health of the nation and—on occasion—to forgo that profit.

16:34  

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

Good morning to you, minister, and your colleagues. I want to pursue this issue a bit further because models are, of course, always welcome but they are only as good as the original data and, indeed, the algorithms that people put into them. I am conscious, as the minister will be, that the portfolio that we are talking about is one of the highest producers of carbon for the money that we spend. I think that we probably understand that, but you might want to give some explanation of that, minister. In that context, should we put more effort into auditing? I ask that not because I want Government auditors running around the place but because I think that those who receive very substantial sums of money in our communities should perhaps be required to provide some kind of professional carbon audit for their businesses. Quite a large amount of carbon and of public money is involved.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Nigel Don

It will do. We know what you mean.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Nigel Don

I share your enthusiasm for those measures being carried out. Frankly, however, I do not share your optimism that it will happen. My observation of the world is that people do not change until you force them to. The opportunity to act voluntarily provides time to develop the methods, which would be useful. History suggests, however, that there must quickly come a point when people are just told, “You’re going to have to do this.” Otherwise, uptake will be too slow.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Nigel Don

I would like to start with those words “abandoned or neglected”. As I understand it, those terms are not defined in the bill. Presumably they have some kind of legal usage or possibly even a definition. Could you clarify that and confirm why it is appropriate not to define them in the bill?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Nigel Don

Thank you—that confirms that there is an issue here. It suggests that there is a definition to come but it is not there yet. Is that a fair interpretation? Otherwise, the lawyers are going to have some fun with this.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Nigel Don

There is a lawyer to my right—Rod Campbell—who I suspect will come in shortly. My position is that, if I were a member of a community group, I would need to have a working definition. Mr Thomson has just told me about a set of very understandable policy considerations, but I do not need to tell you—other than wanting to put it on the record—that we do not do law by making up policy; we do law by writing it down and knowing what it means.

My concern is that the courts will ultimately interpret the words on the page, not the words that you as officials or ministers or I as a parliamentarian might actually want. I am looking for some insight into how we are going to deal with the issue because I am not immediately convinced that what is down on the page is necessarily what we want. I think that, playing back what you have said, you may not feel that it is what we want either.

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 Nigel Don
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11605: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11466: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09965: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09910: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09887: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09813: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09678: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09353: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09339: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09301: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Nigel Don
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03722: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03688: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03410: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03349: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21123: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03179: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03172: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03114: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03056: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02926: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/02/2014 Show Full Question >>

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