Nigel Don MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

This has been an interesting debate. I come at it from a slightly different angle to others, but very close to where my colleague Chic Brodie started.

Some 25 years ago, I was the technical manager for Unilever’s detergents business in the UK. We bought production from one or two smaller manufacturers, but we had a requirement to get things packaged and sometimes repackaged, and sometimes washed and reworked, which was done largely by Remploy. That was along the M62 corridor; I was not in Scotland at the time and I am not talking about Scottish businesses, but I did see at first hand what Remploy did, so I endorse the view that was put forward by Bruce Crawford about quality. He was not the only one to mention it. That business developed extremely experienced people and was able to retain them.

The other thing that that Remploy business had was flexibility; it had a group of people who would turn their hands to pretty much anything. That was just the way the business operated; it meant that we could take to it a job that was more or less on the back of a lorry and be pretty sure that by the following week the work would have been turned around and the business would have done what we needed it to do. We had a long-term working relationship with Remploy, which worked very well.

Another thing that I saw—other members have mentioned this—is that the Remploy factory was not just a factory where people went to work. It quickly became a community, like any good work place would. For a group of people who are looking for a little bit more support than we need, what happens at work is enormously important. Security and continuity are of huge value. I simply make the point—it is not the first time that I have made it in the chamber this year—that for the bean counters, such work is a good thing to support. When we take people who need social support away from an environment in which they get it, we generate costs for our health service and our social services. Not only is there a cost in it, but we take away those limited resources from other activities. On balance, such things are worth doing in a simple economic sense—never mind the obvious social advantages.

I turn to the points that I think Jenny Marra has been trying to make. She would have got on rather better if, as my colleague Stewart Stevenson commented, she had proofread her amendment. If it had picked up the large point that she has been trying to make—about public bodies that could, reasonably, purchase from supported businesses doing so—the amendment might have been supportable. To say that absolutely everybody must have such a contract is to invite the criticisms that we have heard.

I also make the point that if we require an organisation to form a contract—which I remind Jenny Marra is something that requires agreement by two people who are starting from different places—we end up with the risk that supported businesses will just get nominal contracts that are of very little value to anybody, other than to let an organisation tick a box to say that it has a contract with a supported business.



Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Nigel Don

With respect, I think that that intention is reflected in the Government policy that we have heard. Whether that policy should be written down in a single line of statute is the question that I have just addressed. To be frank, I think that that runs the risk of supporting by a tick-box process rather than a sensible commercial process.

As for Gavin Brown’s comments about whether the money should follow the individual or should be put into the businesses, what we have heard this afternoon demonstrates the obvious answer: it should do both. Let us support businesses in which individuals get sensible support doing sensible commercial things, where subsidising such an approach is economically sensible. I take Cameron Buchanan’s point that subsidies are not necessarily sustainable for ever, but the fact is that our population is not suddenly going to run out of disabled people. I should correct myself; I mean people who have disabilities. Such businesses can be long-term; indeed, they were very long term and had long-term subsidies, and it was all very sensible.

The ideological decision to stop supporting those businesses and to ensure that everything must follow the individual into other businesses has not worked. In fact, I do not even have to disagree on the basis of ideology; having heard the comments from across the chamber, I now have the economic argument. I, too, stood beside Richard Baker on a very cold morning in November or December somewhere outside Aberdeen, and I distinctly remember the utter frustration over the fact that ideology was closing a factory that I know, being in Aberdeen at the time, could have worked into the future. As I have said, the answer to Gavin Brown’s question is that the money should do both things. We can see that, and we just need to strike a sensible balance.

My final point relates to the issue that was highlighted by one of my colleagues—I am sorry, but I cannot remember who it was—of the social responsibility in having, and contracting with, supported businesses. When I was a member of Dundee City Council, I sat on its pension funds committee, and we asked at least some of the businesses—in which we invested pretty large sums of money—about their social policies and their commitment to the environment. To be honest, I should say that those inquiries were pretty minimal in those days.

However, such issues are growing in importance and people are taking them more and more seriously, and there is an opportunity for our pension funds and large investment funds to ask those kinds of questions. The businesses that we are talking about need support where that is appropriate, and the organisations that could procure from them should be asked whether they are trying to do so. If they are not even trying, someone should be asking them to change their attitude.

I suspect, Presiding Officer, that my time is up, so I will leave it there.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

Good morning, minister. I recognise that this is not directly part of your portfolio, but there seems to be a lot of evidence that hard-to-treat houses are also old houses. Those that are not being treated are in private hands and are often rented, which means that the people who own them have the least incentive to improve them. Can you encourage your colleagues to consider whether we should legislate in that area? Legislation is probably required if we are going to get older leased properties, many of which are not even wind and watertight, up to standard.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Nigel Don

The committee heard that, compared with other places, there is a time lag of 18 months after the end of the year before we get the data. Has the minister had an opportunity to talk to the UK Government about whether we can improve that situation? Are there any surrogates that we can use? For example, the tonnage of beef might well convert into methane by some factor and, presumably, we know how much petrol and diesel are sold in Scotland, which we can assume it is all burned. What options have you got to improve the data?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Nigel Don

I will explore that a bit. One issue that the minister mentioned is that, once we have shrunk the amount of carbon that we emit, those who inevitably must do so, such as beef producers, will by definition become a larger fraction of what is left. Are you specifically working on how that amount can be measured and how it can be reduced? Are we moving to the days when, for example, beef is produced in sheds and the methane that goes up to the roof is burned off to CO2 before it is emitted as methane. That would be the chemist’s solution, without having to worry about the engineering one.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Nigel Don

Good morning, gentlemen. It is good to see you again.

I will start with aquaculture, and fish farming in particular. We have heard in the past few years about the expansion of the industry, which makes good sense for all sorts of economic and food security reasons. I notice that you mention it in your report. Will you tell us how you see it progressing and perhaps how far you see it going?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Nigel Don

Thank you for that extraordinarily comprehensive answer, which went into all the spaces that I was expecting I might have to push you towards.

When the committee was scrutinising the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill, it became clear that the further aquaculture goes offshore, the more chance there is of avoiding conflict. Equally, of course, operators want to engage with the communities that will have to work there, and the environmental consequences are also obvious.

To what extent do you need the support of the Parliament or the Government to achieve some of the things that you talked so eloquently about? Do you have all the powers and the enthusiasm that you need to make things work?



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
The Convener (Nigel Don)

I welcome members to the 28th meeting in 2014 of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee. As always, I ask members to turn off their mobile phones.

Item 1 is a decision on whether to take business in private. It is proposed that we take items 7 and 8 in private. Item 7 is consideration of the delegated powers provisions in the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill at stage 1. It is also suggested that we take further stage 1 consideration of the bill in private. Item 8 is consideration of a draft report on the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill. Does the committee agree to take items 7 and 8 in private?

Members indicated agreement.



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
The Convener

Does the committee also agree to take further consideration of the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill at stage 1 in private?

Members indicated agreement.



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
The Convener

Members will also note that, in line with previous decisions of the committee, items 9 and 10 will also be in private.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11332.2 Jenny Marra: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
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NoDefeated

S4M-11332.1 Gavin Brown: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
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NoDefeated

S4M-11332 Fergus Ewing: Supported Business—That the Parliament recognises the economic and social va
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YesCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
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YesCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
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YesCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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YesCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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YesCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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YesCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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YesCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
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YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Nigel Don
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
Motion S4M-09137: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09081: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Nigel Don
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
Question S4O-02808: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02740: Nigel Don, Angus North and Mearns, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/12/2013 Show Full Question >>

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